Festival of Bridges #5 ~ Bridge to a Better Life

This contribution to The Festival of Bridges comes from Sandy Penny, a woman I am fortunate have come to know over the last year or so through blogging. I love her way with words and her ability to bring us to unfamiliar places and make them feel like home. Sandy’s website can be found here

Bridge to a Better Life

There are so many ways I could talk about this bridge, but I want to keep it personal.

McKinley Bridge Crop
McKinley Bridge crossing the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri to Venice, Illinois

The McKinley Bridge stretches across the mighty Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri to Venice, Illinois. It connected my small town, Venice, with the huge Gateway to the West, St. Louis, where the famous St. Louis Arch was being built as I grew up.

I could see it going up, piece by piece from my second story bedroom window. But I lived across the river in a town of only about 5000 people, and my life was very different from those who lived in the big city.

I went to a small school, only about 500 students through all the grades, Kindergarten through grade 12. I had 28 students in my age-level class. But, we had a great school with lots of things small schools didn’t have back then. We had olympic style gymnastic training equipment, a brand new gymnasium, marble floors, a classical music room, a state of the art language lab, and some of the best teachers in the state. How could we afford all those wonderful perks?

McKinley Bridge belonged to Venice, and it was a toll bridge. All those tolls supported our little town, and most especially the school.

There are other things, like how we would climb the train trestles and dodge into the balconies as the trains roared by a few feet from where we stood. And how traffic had to stop on the bridge if a train needed to cross. And it was an electric bridge, so electric trolleys on rails could cross it too.

Such powerful impact on my childhood, and a bridge to a better life in so many ways. It’s now is disrepair, and has been turned into a bicycle bridge, and that’s still good work for an old bridge.


The Festival of Bridges is running until October 31st. Submissions are welcome in words, image, music about bridges, loosely defined, that have special meaning for you. Email your contributions to me at: jeantubridy@aol.com. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Old Haunts

Today has been a busy day and one on which I spent time in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Clonmel is a bustling town and a place which was ‘home’ for eight years of my life ~ years when I was studying and working in Dublin but travelling back and forth to see my parents and new found friends.

On my way home this evening, I stopped off on an old bridge, Sir Thomas’ Bridge, which is about two miles outside the town and one which was the half-way point for many a walk. As I watched the River Suir flowing swiftly along, I couldn’t but think of all the ups, downs, currents, floods, ripples and waves that have unfolded since I last stood there in the mid-1980s.

River Suir from Sir Thomas' Bridge near Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
River Suir from Sir Thomas’ Bridge near Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

Our Little Lost Bridge ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 307

Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection
Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection

Today, I want to tell you about one of the first submissions I got for this Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection. The very fact that it has taken until now to write about it gives some indication of  how stunned I was to receive it.

Garrarus Beach, as many of you will know by now, is one of my most deeply treasured haunts and it’s where I go swimming all year round. For years now, I’ve been exchanging waves with a man out walking his dog on the road to the shore and I’d noticed a few times when the sea was maybe a bit on the rough side that he seemed to wait very unobtrusively to be sure that I was back safely on dry land. That was something I really appreciated.

Somehow, it never entered my consciousness that this man,who is such a part of  my precious relationship with Garrarus,  could be a reader of my blog. For one thing, I can never get any signal for phone or internet in that area! Nor, did I think that the Garrarus area could have a more delightful little  stone bridge than the one that stands at the turn off from the ‘main road’ for that last lovely stretch down to the beach.

So imagine my surprise when I received this email from the man whose name I now know is Liam:

Hello Jean,
I just stumbled on your blog Social Bridge recently.
I am enjoying your writing and photos especially the ones of Garrarus Strand.
I am very fortunate to live on the road that leads down to the Strand and the dog and myself  visit at least a couple of times a day.
I am attaching a couple of photos of another bridge in Garrarus.  Sadly it was knocked down about thirty years ago by a cement lorry.
This bridge was directly across the road from our house and was the start of the lane that runs up to the next road.
I just learned recently that our old friend Oliver Cromwell is said to have travelled this lane on his way to attack Dunhill Castle and would have crossed this bridge…..

Garrarus really is a special place and I feel so privileged to live here. I look forward to your treatment of our little lost bridge.



Well, Liam, I can feel Garrarus calling as the clouds have lifted and the sun is pouring down.  Thanks for telling me about ‘our little lost bridge’ and for taking the trouble to meet me on this one!