I wanted to send you this in honor of Veterans Day.
Bellaire Bridge Calls Me Home…from a memoir written for my Dad
By Nancy Allen
My dad was born in Moundsville, West Virginia, the oldest child of Pap a coal miner and Katherine a Russian immigrant. The mines and the steel mills were always by the Ohio river where the heart of the city beats and flows. Everything in the valley runs along side the Ohio River, and the only way that you could get across the river to West Virginia was, and is, the Bellaire Bridge. It’s main design depended on complex cantilever trusses. Cantilever trusses are the strongest steel trusses and this web of trusses were crucial in holding up this bridge for decades. This bridge that crossed over the vast Ohio River with its frequent floods. Miners and steel workers used this bridge to walk to the West Virginia mines and mills across the river, my Dad and Pap included.
I looked up at the Bellaire Bridge and in that split second, the sunlight hit and shone on the door of an abandoned coal mine. The door lit up, and all that I could see was the sunlight reflecting off it. Then I heard my father’s voice clear as a bell “Nancy, you have to cross that bridge in order to bring the sun up. I crossed that bridge every day and I brought
the sun up, and now it’s your turn to cross that bridge.” It seemed ironic that here I was at a major cross road in my life, not knowing what was around the bend, and now I was back at the very place where my Dad had started his journey. It is strange, there are bridges at the beginning and also at the end of our two journeys.
My Dad’s whole life was spent crossing bridges, persevering through many dark valleys in order to bring the sun up. In that split second, in that flash of sunlight, I finally saw what he had been trying to show me all of those years. My Dad spent his whole life building bridges. He was, and still is in my heart, the very best bridge builder that I ever knew. Bridges connect the hearts and souls of cities and rivers…bridges connect our hearts and souls and bring hope and healing to others.
Today I choose to build bridges and to look for those shafts of light in the darkness. To embrace them and to carry them forward…to bring the sun up every day. Thank you Dad, for everything that you taught me and for the precious sunlit diamonds that you brought me every day. I love you Dad!
We appreciate you sharing your story with us. Oftentimes, we forget how we create the memories for our children. We expect for them to be all right in the world. Your story is a testimony to all.
This was printed in November 20, 2011 – December 3, 2011 Edition.