Dad and Memories of the Tappan Zee Bridge

Westbound on the TZB and, we thought, headed right for the water/Courtesy of Ian C. Ligget (photo July 2008)

Westbound on the TZB and, we thought, headed right for the water/Courtesy of Ian C. Ligget (photo July 2008)

Nearly everyone, including me, has stories to share about the bridge — when it was built, when it first opened, childhood trips, teenage years, watching the water, exploring the structure, years between then and now. During my journalism career I’ve written about different aspects — toll increases; movable barriers; accidents and escapades; and local first responders’ thoughts.

Here are two memories, one childhood, one college, about the bridge.

My parents took my little brother and me upstate for weekends in the Catskills. The bridge was less than a decade old, tolls were much less, and motorists tossed their money into coin boxes. (Years later, when I became a driver, I sometimes missed: that meant stopping, opening the door, and searching for money that fell sight unseen. Wished the boxes had extended to the driver’s window.)

Mom and dad told us the bridge went towards the water, and our kid imagination went wild. We were sure we’d drive right into the Hudson River. So the first time we were on the bridge, at that crucial “going to get soaked” point, mom told us the bridge doesn’t really go into the water.

Still, she said, my brother closed his eyes, just in case. He’d learned to swim at camp, yet wasn’t fond of pools. Probably not rivers, either. And when he opened his eyes, we were past the dunking point, and I forgot what happened next.

* * * * *

Returning from a trip upstate and, seeing the bridge, knowing we were home. The SUCO bus left Oneonta at 4 p.m., and arrived at the County Center at 8:30 p.m.; the Tappan Zee Bridge was in view by maybe 8:10 p.m.

And then there was the time I missed the SUCO bus. Dad walked with me through a blizzard to the nearby train station (roughly half a mile, and a nice walk in good weather). We’re talking snow. He then rode with me to New York City so I could catch a bus to campus. A five-plus-hour trip from Port Authority.

* * * * *

Dad loved, and gave his all, to us, his family, his friends, his country. He served in the U.S. Army, sharing stories of his days in the South Pacific, and in Rome, NY, where he made airplane parts.

My parents married less than eight weeks before the Tappan Zee Bridge opened. Dad passed away 24 hours before the final transit task force meeting. That was 108 long days ago.

I miss him so much and talk to his picture every day. And as I hesitate about whether or not to post this, I hear dad’s voice gently encouraging me.

Happy Father’s Day to you and yours.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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