Richard Holstad reports on his climb up the water tower -
Another one for the books was climbing the good old water tower …. If I came home to Northwood and the water tower was gone, it just wouldn't be home. I've said this so often that if it were possible to remove the layers of paint from the water tower - one layer at a time – it would display a priceless documentary of our “glory days”!
I recall soo many adventures involving that water tower – Mike Lien told about climbing the ladder, someone saw him in the act, and called Arnold, Mikes’ dad. Mike had just begun his ascent of the water tower when he was discovered and the call went out to his dad ….. Mike got to enjoy the thrill of the climb, not knowing his dad had even been contacted and was on his way over to meet him when he came down. In Mike’s words, when he was making the descent and realized his dad was waiting at the bottom, he wasn't sure what would be worse: to face his dad’s wrath or to jump from a high level to his own demise.
The first time I climbed the water tower was an eye-opener pretty much from start to finish. It is one of those things like diving off the high board at the swimming pool the first time. People can describe it, advise you what to do, coach you, you can imagine how it will be - but until you actually do it …….. you don’t know diddle.
For instance, no one explained to me that the last 15 feet or so the water tower ladder tilts backward --- it feels like you are hanging on to a ladder that is not perpendicular (90 degrees) to the ground like the first section. But it is actually more like past perpendicular (110 degrees) to the ground, so that if you lifted both your feet off the ladder rugs, they would swing out and you’d be dangling by your hands ……. I wasn't counting on that sensation, especially at the very top.
So, to get yourself from the ladder to the platform, it is not a simple climb up and step onto the platform like you’d first anticipate …. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THAT AHEAD OF TIME ?!
That was S-C-A-R-Y with a capital S-C-A-R-Y! So I placed my hand above my head to reach up to the platform ….. still trying to figure out the proper maneuver with my hands and feet to make the transition onto the platform -- I was hesitant to just grab the platform and leave the ladder because my feet would swing out and away from the ladder. And the way my dad taught me, bless his heart, no matter your situation you need to always keep in mind that you need to reverse the this process when it is time to come back down again.
My heart is beating faster even now just telling you this …… I swear to you these are true stories.
So I got my strategy in mind on how to transition to the platform – there was no way to avoid that breathtaking moment when you transition from using your hands and feet to when you are holding on only with your hands to pull yourself onto the platform. It didn’t require super-human strength by any means. I just kept thinking about the fall if something went wrong…….Got the picture?
So I reached up to grabbed the strongest possible crosspiece of the platform ……. I HAD NO IDEA THAT TWO PIGEONS WERE SLEEPING RIGHT THERE -- AND WHEN I PUT MY HAND UP ON THE PLATFORM, THEY BOTH SPOOKED AND FLEW RIGHT INTO MY FACE!
To this day, I can’t explain why I didn't totally lose my MoJo right there -- and let go of everything!