OVER THE HUMP: HAMBURGER HILL
This week’s Hump Day hill story is not about the setting of the infamous battle in the Vietnam War.
This was the name given to a rutted, steep hill that sat right behind the local McDonalds in the town where I grew up.
Hence the name.
There it is, up there in the shot taken from Google Maps Street View.
There was one, well-worn path that led down the face that dumped out right into the vacant lot next to the Mickey D’s.
One of those vacant lots full of old shopping carts and tires.
My town was, and still is, quite unglamorous.
I never understood why there was such a well-worn path because we never saw anyone actually take it on.
It couldn’t have been more than 50 feet high but the thought of coming down that steep hill on our cobbled-together BMX bikes struck terror in our tiny hearts.
We’d tackled far steeper hills, even back then when we were 8 and 9, but this hill came with its own legend.
Rumor was that one kid tried it, crashed and crushed his trachea on the little cross-bar on his BMX handlebars.
He made it all the way home but his Mom, not knowing how to perform a tracheotomy, watched him die right there.
Probably just urban legend, but it freaked us out. And gave us all an excuse to get bitchin’, checkerboard cross-bar pads.
I remember years back when I stopped into town to visit my parents.
As I cruised by this hill I remembered that my bike was on the roof.
I slowed down and started to consider conquering this thing, once-and-for-all.
Then my wife and kids asked why I was slowing down (it’s not the best neighborhood, I’ll tell you. Never has been).
I gave them the short version of the story and, well, let’s just say that I shall not be conquering this hill.
And if that poor kid actually existed, I guess I owe him thanks.
Or it’s quite likely that the hill would have a new legend. And local kids would point to that filthy hill and say “…heard about that old dude who tried to ride down Hamburger Hill and died?…”