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Shamrocks, Trolls, Angels and DrunksAllan and the Troll

In 1978 we moved to a new suburb north of Detroit. We lived exactly between Twenty-Three Mile Rd and Twenty-Four Mile Rd. in New Baltimore, Michigan. Twenty-Three Mile Rd. had shops and stores and strip plazas and all the things that attend subdivisions. Twenty-Four Mile Rd. was not developed and was just a gravel road with some farms along the way. Also along the way there was a small bridge that narrowed to one lane where the bridge went over a creek. It was a good place to stop and toss stones.

On many summer evenings my little son Allan and I would go for a walk heading for St. Mary's Cemetery on Twenty-Four Mile Rd. His 19 year old brother Kerry had been buried there the past winter. It was only a mile or two and it made for a good destination in the evening with a four year old little boy. We took our time just strolling along. Allan had lots of questions about all the things he saw along the road. He wanted to know why Jersey cows were brown and why Holstein cows were black and white. And if a bird perched on a fence post he needed to know what kind it was. There were seldom any cars that used Twenty-Four Mile Rd. so we strolled and meandered along tossing stones at trees and fence posts and felt free to walk wherever we wanted.

As we approached the bridge I once again told Allan the story of The Three Billy Goat‘s Gruff. . He liked to hear me tell how the billy goats went "trip, trap, trip, trap" over the bridge and how the troll would come out and shout, "Who is going over my bridge?!” I told Allan that we had to be careful going over the bridge so as not to disturb the troll. Once there and standing quiet I told Allan that the troll must be out visiting other trolls and that it would be okay if we tossed some stones into the creek. He liked to stick his head through the railing and see the reflection of his curly-curly blonde head.

Coming back we went through the same procedure with the bridge. But sometimes if it was starting to get dark and he was tired, he wanted me to carry him over the bridge. Of course I did. He was so precious and I did not want any troll to get him -no sirree!

When Allan got his bachelor’s degree there was a friends and family get-together. Sometime during the evening Allan sat down beside me. After a minute or two he said, "You know, Dad," and I turned to see him smiling, "Remember when we used to go for those walks on Twenty-Four Mile Rd.?" I smiled, nodded yes and he went on, "Well I was thirteen years old before I figured out there wasn't a troll under that bridge“.

We really laughed. I didn't remember Allan ever laughing so hard. He stopped laughing and said, "I'm going to have kids some day and I'm going to take then to that bridge on Twenty-Four Mile Rd. and have them toss stones into the creek and I'll tell them all about the troll and I'll remember my big brother and you.”

He's still precious.