So I was thinking about the Evansville stockyards on my drive into work this morning.
When I was a kid, sometimes Grampa would take us with him when he took hogs into town to the stockyards. These trips are among my earliest memories; we were still living in the trailer, and we moved out of the trailer when I was three. I'm realizing that most of my earliest memories are tied to one geographic location, which is more or less where the trailer stood.
Anyway, the stockyards. I don't remember the stockyards themselves, rather than just Grampa's old red truck with the high-sided back that he used for hauling hogs into town, until I'm maybe six or so. The stockyards had loading docks for trucks to back up to, then a series of interconnected holding pens to move the hogs up to the scales as they became available, as well as some walkways. Over the pens, up in the rafters, there were catwalks.
We (us kids) didn't always go up in the catwalks. I think it depended how long Grampa had to wait for the hogs to get to the scales and get paid. I don't even remember how us going up in the catwalks got started, but we weren't sneaking around, just keeping busy. You could wander over most of the stockyards via the catwalks, which I think were accessed by stairs from the scales office. It was a bit of a maze, and we got kind of lost over the cattle half of the stockyards once, prior to which it hadn't occurred to me that the stockyards were for more than hogs. Sometimes to keep going you had to jump a gap of a few feet, which seemed quite far when you're six or eight.
A lot of random memories are tied into the stockyard trips. The vending machine at one of the feed stores that had grape soda of a brand no one else carried. Stopping at a gas station (now closed) for candy based partly on how much Grampa had gotten for the hogs. Spilling a whole package of Sixlets in the truck.
The stockyards closed sometime in the 1990s, a victim of the city having grown up around it, the declining local livestock economy, and probably other factors that I wasn't aware of at the time. Grampa died in 1998, about five months before I met my now-husband and graduated from high school. Experiences like this probably fed into various parts of my personality, but at this point in time what I'm wondering most is, who's going to take my niece exploring, and where?