Saturday, June 8, 2019

Superior Talks About Bridges Differently

The Two and the Fifty-Three.

If you're not from Superior and your main interaction with the town has been to drive through it, that's what you call the respective bridges here.  Because Google Maps or Mapquest or the Rand McNally road atlas would label it that way.  (For the kids reading this, a road atlas was where you'd pay someone to print out a statewide Google map and put in a huge book form.)

But try and say that in reference to either bridge to someone in town and you're likely to bet met with a blank stare.  I've spoken to more than a few Superior lifers who say they couldn't even tell me which highway goes on which bridge because no one here refers to them that way.

"The Bong and the Blatnik."  That's what you'll get.  And if you ask which one is which, you'll be met with a blank stare or a "well, one of them is the high bridge."

Okay y'all, Ive been on both of them and let me tell you, they're both really high.  I mean, I think one is higher than the other, but at the point when I'm driving, there is really only one height I'm primarily concerned with.  I'm really high above the water and I would prefer not to find out exactly how high.  I'm not trying to look across the bay and ascertain which one is highest so that I know what the locals are talking about.

I guess the high bridge is the Blatnik.  Which I can never pronounce correctly either.  I have had this conversation at least a half dozen times.

"No, Blaht-nik."
"Ok, Blot-nik."
"No, Blet-nik."
"Can I just call it the fifty-three?"
"Nobody calls it that and I'm not even sure if that's right anyway.  It's the high bridge."

Which brings me to another point.  I used to kind of snicker at the name "Bong bridge."  Once I learned about the heroism of Richard I. Bong's service to our country, I refrain from such juvenile behavior.  So this is my one and only time I will stray from that commitment here.  From the perspective of an outsider who's having trouble keeping the bridge nicknames straight, it would be a LOT easier to remember if the one the locals designate as the "high bridge" was the Bong.

As it turns out though, the Bong Bridge replaced the Arrowhead Bridge, which used to be pretty much right at the level of the water.  So from that perspective as you'd drive on it, the Blatnik was easily the higher of the two.  It's little tidbits like this that fascinate me.  "The high bridge" is a local parlance that made its way into our lexicon based on something that doesn't exist in the same form anymore.  It's one of those pieces of local jargon that, if you're from here, well everyone knows this.  But if that hasn't seeped into your consciousness from lifelong cultural osmosis, then there's no way you'd get the information unless it's explained to you.

Ah, the life and times of trying to understand this town.  So it goes.

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