Once we moved on from Royal Land we headed toward something I was really looking forward to, Buck Walter Stadium. At one time Meridian had a minor league baseball team. Actually, looking into it, it seems as if the town had more than one team over the years. It looks like the baseball tradition began in 1893 with the Meridian Bluebirds and ending in 1997 with the Meridian Brakemen. During the times in between there was the Meridian Ribboners, the Meridian White Ribboners, the Meridian Mets and Metropolins, the Scrappers, the Eagles, the Peps and the Millers. That is a lot of teams. This stadium had captured my imagination. I thought, “What a great thing to see and learn about!” Well, I was half right and half wrong. So, before we go any further, I want to apologize to the parents of the two kids that were with us. No harm came to them but it was a lesson that I am not sure that they wanted them to learn.
I had been researching things to do this past Sunday when I actually stumbled across this place. I had no idea if we could even find it. Turns out, I found it. I had no idea who to contact and really didn’t think too much about it. I actually thought that it probably belonged to the city because it was actually the old fairgrounds. At any rate we pulled up in a not so great section of town and parked the truck. We made sure to lock it as we got out. At this point I really wasn’t sure that it was worth it. There were weeds everywhere and a broken gate with a POSTED sign right next to it. Well, right then and there we made our first mistake, we ignored the sign and we trespassed on private property.
We made our way inside the gate and were instantly transported to another world. It was almost eerie. There was not a lot of noise and the buildings were still there, empty shells looking as if someone was going to be waiting inside them. There was debris everywhere and you could see where others had been here before us and not been exactly respectful. Things were broken and scattered about. Pieces of buildings were missing and vines crawled over everything. We did see the history fading into ruin. You could almost hear the long ago crack of a bat, the roar of a Sunday crowd and the umpire calling “Safe!” as someone crossed home plate. But under it there was a sadness. The emptiness of history being forgotten. For lots of years men did great things here…more than I realized at the time…but I was about to learn.
A little while into our adventure I decided that we really needed to go. I just felt nervous and being there felt wrong. I mean we didn’t have permission to be here and we were breaking the rules, so we left. As we got ready to get into the truck a white SUV comes screeching up and this man gets out yelling for us to “back away from the vehicle!” Well, I thought that he must be security so I did what he asked and instructed the kids to do the same. After some time has passed, and after him stating that he is going to make sure and press charges which could be as much as $500, the police arrived. Now I had always heard that if more than one police officer shows up someone is going to jail. So, one car pulls up, then another and finally a third. “Great, I am going to jail” I thought. By now I am hoping that he will just charge me and not the kids. By now I am feeling like a real piece of work and by now I am (according to the kids) looking like I am going to cry. For the record, I did NOT cry.
The police start to get our information and tell me that it is a misdemeanor. I am thinking, “does that still mean jail?” I NEVER get into trouble. I try NEVER to do anything wrong because I am so bad at it. If I lie, I get caught. If I do something bad (or illegal) I get caught. After a bit one of the officers says that we are free to go and we will probably be hearing something soon and that I could speak to him if I wanted to. By this time I had figured out that this guy was the landowner, YES I wanted to talk to him. I told him how sorry I was and what we were doing. I told him how wrong I was but that I had seen the pictures and wanted to take a few for our book. At this point he indicated that maybe I should take a picture of the police cars so that they would remember what happens if you trespass. I guess I deserved that remark. I was interested in the history of the place though. As we spoke he began to tell me a few things about the property.
This property is actually pretty cool. You see one of the things that happened there was that the plane the Key brothers flew was christened there during the 7th inning stretch of a game. That plane now hangs in the Smithsonian. You should totally look up the Key brothers. The technology that they came up with to fuel their plane in flight is still used today by the military in much the same way it was designed back then.
Another interesting bit of history about the property is that there was a world record set there and the man I was speaking to was part of it. There used to be a merry-go-round on the site and 16 people set a record for the longest continuous merry-go-round ride. Something like 384 hours. I have looked for it online, but I can’t find it. I do believe the man though, he has the merry-go-round horse that all the participants that completed the record signed. He said it usually sits in his living room, but right now is sitting in the Temple Theater.
Once we were done talking we were free to go. I was still rattled because, I don’t get into trouble or do much wrong. This is the reason why. I felt like a horrible person. The kids learned that I was willing to take the responsibility for our actions and also what NOT to do. I learned to follow my instincts. We got really cool pictures and learned a bit about history though. So, it was the best part and the worst part of the day.
I will say though, that my adventure did not end there though. I mean, we did go on to other spots after that but I work with someone related to the man who stopped us and I consider him a friend. So, I felt like even more of a heel. I had to go to work Monday morning and confess what I had done. Well, I felt like I had to anyway. That was the hardest part of any of it I think. I had to let him know that I was sorry for disrespecting him that way. And for the record, I did cry then. I am a horrible criminal, and I can’t understand why; if that is how crime makes you feel; people continue to be criminals. Feeling like a horrible person is not a good time. Even though I technically did not really commit a horrible crime I didn’t know that. I felt like…well let’s just say it wasn’t good. So, we definitely made a memory; one I am sure will be extremely funny in a few years. Right now all it did is solidify who I am and what I believe…Be a good person. Do the right thing. DON’T trespass!!! In the man’s defense though, people had burned one of the buildings in there and were stealing all the copper and scrap metal from the place so I understand why he was so angry. Lesson learned!!! And he actually turned out to be a fountain of information that he was more than willing to share.
All in all, was it worth it? Probably. Next time though I will make sure to do everything possible to find a number to call. Someone told me that I am like a photojournalist and that property was like a shiny bauble to a crow, irresistible. I would say there is some truth to that. I guess I am a photojournalist. I AM chronicling our adventures. Next Sunday we are going somewhere easy to get to, cool but safe. Until tomorrow here is another look at what we found on the craziest part of our adventure. And NO, I did not get any pictures of the three police cars that were at the scene of the crime, and as of today I have not received any notice that I am being charged with a crime. Maybe he thought that the ordeal was lesson enough. I sure hope so!!