Things were different when I was growing up in Northglenn. At twelve years old we had freedom kids now could only dream of. We could travel as far as our bikes would take us as long as we made it back to our block before the street lights came on. It may come as a shock to some reading this, but we didn’t have to tell our folks where we were going or check in either. As long as we made it home before the street lights came on our summer whereabouts where never questioned.
Michael got to my house around 10 am and we battled it out playing Tecmo Bowl until lunch time. After my mom fixed us a couple sandwiches we hopped on our bikes and headed towards the tracks. We flew down 110th past the American Legion and right across Irma which for us back then was a busy street. As soon as we crossed over to the east side of Irma it was a whole new world. After we passed the little section of industrial buildings it was a 12-year-old boys heaven. Bikes jumps on both sides of the tracks, a creek lined with steep cliffs with deep enough pools to jump into, and fields of cattails with scattered trees loaded with birds to pop with pellet guns. Needless to say there was tons of cool stuff to do back there, but for whatever reason that day we seemed to be bored with most of it.
We stopped over by the cave where there was an old bench seat out of a pick up to plan out the rest of our day. We always felt cool hanging out at this spot, but knew we had to keep an eye out for the older kids coming down there to party. Back then cellphones weren’t a thing and bullying wasn’t looked at as a national epidemic. So, when the older kids kicked our ass we couldn’t immediately call our parents and even if we could they’d tell us to either toughen up or quit hanging out where we were getting our ass kicked. Sorry for veering off track there… anyway, after a few minutes we decided we’d head over to the creek by the softball field and catch crawdads.
After a five minute bike ride we found ourselves staring at the creek next to the softball field in disbelief. They’d cleared out a huge portion of what used to be woods next to the creek and started building what looked to be a pond! It wasn’t filled yet, but there were rocks outlining the area where it looked like the pond would be. All that looked to be left was flooding the creek and filling the area up with water. We couldn’t believe something this big had been happening right under our noses without neither of us having the slightest clue.
We ditched the bikes and started running down to a little area spot on the creek they added some pipes to. It only took a few steps for us to realize between the construction and recent rain this entire area they cleared out was muddy. Now Michael and I were no strangers to the mud around here and never let a little rain keep us away from catching snakes or crawdads, but this wasn’t like the normal mud we were used to. Normal mud the biggest concerned we’d have is our moms yelling at us for getting our shoes and jeans muddy. This mud felt like you could lose a leg in it. It slowed us down, but we kept doing the Sammy Winder walk until we were at the edge of the creek.
Immediately I screamed “Mike dude do you see them” he quickly replied no. “Dude look next to that new pipe sticking into the water” again he replied no. Then I heard Michael scream “they’re @%#’ing huge”. To this day I’m still not sure how they got there, but in a little pool in our creek there was two carp that looked to be well over twenty pounds apiece.
Without saying a word we both took our shoes off and jumped into the creek trying to catch those giants. Neither one of us had a clue what we’d do with these carp if we caught them, but that’s the kind of thing you worry about after you catch them not before. We both thought it would be easy to grab at least one carp from this pool in the creek… it wasn’t. They didn’t have much room to get away from us as that little spot on the creek was only a few feet deep and maybe 6 or 7 feet wide, but they were so damn strong even when we did wrap our hands around them they either got away, or when we lifted them they just smacked the hell out of us until we dropped them. It only took the carp a few minutes to figure out they were safe inside the concrete pipe we first spotted them by. We sat on the banks and waited for them to come back out. After a half hour we decided to head home and come back tomorrow morning with fishing gear.
We started making our way back to our bikes when we realized we probably should have taken the same way up as we took down. We were starting to sink down into the mud faster and faster with each step. At first it was funny then it got scary really quick when we started sinking down past our knees. Being an anxious person to begin with when I finally felt like I was stuck I lifted my feet out of my shoes and ran as fast as I could up to safety. I looked back down to see Michael up to his waist in the mud and crying. To make matters worse it was starting to get dark…
I made my way back down to Michael and tried to my best to help get him unstuck without getting stuck myself. We tried and tried, but nothing seemed to be working and now it was dark. It was scary but there was plenty of light from Irma and JC Ballfield. I told Michael I’d be right back and started running up to the softball field.
Before I could get to the softball field I ran into a few of the teenagers who coincidentally kicked our ass a few weeks when they caught us hanging out by their cave. I didn’t want to tell them anything thinking all they’d do is go down and either make fun Michael or worse. When they saw the expression on my face though things changed. They asked me if I was okay and I replied no and told them what happened. Long story short they ran down to Michael and two of the older kids ripped him out of the mud no problem. They carried him up to our bikes and sat with us for a few minutes even offering to walk us home. It sounds goofy but that was the first time I realized why I always took so much pride in being from my neighborhood. Although the older kids always tormented us just like we tormented the younger kids… We always protected each other in a weird way. Not sure that’ll make sense to some of you younger kids, but the older guys will get it.
We rehearsed our story the entire walk home knowing our parents wouldn’t believe us. We were both covered in mud, I was shoeless, and it was all because we were chasing giant carp with our hands in a soon to be pond no one knew about...We walked into the house with our tails between our legs hoping they'd understand our unbelievable story, but hell if we weren't there to witness it we wouldn't have believed it either!
I slowly opened the door thinking my dad would be right there with Michael's mom Joy to chew our ass. Much to our surprise no one was waiting for us. After walking around the house no one was even home. Our first thought was they formed a search party and went looking for use... then we heard laughter in the back yard. We went out back to see my parents and a handful of other neighbors out back drinking beer having a great time. We walked out there thinking the music would stop and we'd get a public ass chewing, but it never happened. My dad noticed us and then asked if we wanted hot dogs. That was it.
In shock we walked back inside... and immediately started game planning on going back the next day and catching both of those damn carp.