Thursday, July 28, 2011


Posted to OGR on 03/06/2011

As I was driving through my neighborhood the other day, it struck me that all the driveways were the same, made from concrete poured into a frame. And that started me to wondering when the last time I saw a driveway in the city or suburbs that was not made of concrete. It has been a long, long time.

When I was growing up in Florida, our driveway was constructed of many different materials over the years. We started off with one made from pine needles; it was cheap and convenient but when it rained a lot, it got muddy and messy. One day we raked up the needles and lay down oyster shells. They were plentiful in Florida and made for a driveway that would stay dry in wet weather, but they were hard on bare feet and had to be replenished every couple of years; the weight of the cars broke the shells down and they mixed with the sand below. Pine bark replaced the oyster shells but it had the same problems and broke down quicker, even if it looked nicer.

Then my dad decided to go industrial. He brought home a truckload of roofing shingle parts; mostly the trimmings and edges. They came in strips about an inch wide and three to four inches long. Back in the late 50s and the early 60s, they were the rage; you saw shingle parking lots in front of stores and many of the homes in the neighborhood sported shingle driveways. Those suckers were indestructible and that was part of the problem. In the heat of the summertime those driveways baked in the sun and coalesced into a big hunk that captured anything that fell onto them, pine straw, leaves and twigs became permanently imbedded in the interlaying shingles. Eventually that would have to go. But not before I did.

I think it was my second or third trip back home from college when I was greeted by a bright shiny new concrete driveway. It lay there in all its permanent glory, pristine and proud, on top of remnants of all the driveways that preceded it. Dad told me that it was a lot of work to get the old materials dug out and they couldn’t get it all. But as in all things on this earth, Mother Nature has the last word. Every fall the pine trees cover the concrete with their needles. It almost looks as if the driveway was made of pine needles again. If we let the needles lay on the concrete too long the tannic acid mixes with rainwater and stains the concrete. Oh MY!

Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley

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