Steam Tunnels

As suspected, our dropping temps are creating all the more reasons not to be outdoors any more than necessary.  A bank teller made me laugh today when their in the drive-thru.  He asked how I was, and I said, “Cold! But at least I started wearing my long underwear, but after today, I’m thinking about getting another pair to slip over my existing ones, so if I start looking a little bloated, don’t be alarmed.”  He laughed and said, “I think I’m gonna have to git me a pair.”  What made me laugh to myself is not being sure if he wanted to look bloated or to keep warm.

I did manage to get another home sold today which was only on the market maybe a week.  It was listed with another agency, but as chance would have it, I had a buyer looking for a winter project, and believe me, that house is going to be a challenge, but at least he’s got the money and experience to do it right.  Thank goodness it didn’t get purchased by one of our rental barons.  I just placed my sold sign out this afternoon and I’m sure I’ll be getting a call from one of the neighbors asking who purchased it.  I’ll have to assure everyone who calls that it’s going to get restored, and for them to be all the more thankful for it.

While working at getting a sold file to closing, I couldn’t help but mention to the seller that the person who did their appraisal, created all the more work and precious time lost for everyone involved.  We both agreed that there are all the more people in certain professions and government positions who do little or nothing to warrant their salaries, but just so to make everyone think they’re worth their pay, they create un-necessary dust storms and hurdles to jump over just so to “prove” their un-earned paychecks.

We also talked about those wannabe “heroes” amongst us who oft times create additional problems just so to later be the ones to “fix” them and then set themselves out as heroes.  My stern reminder was, “For years I’ve told people that I absolutely never want to take a hero’s position because most don’t realize they’re the first ones who get shot at, so don’t ever think you’ll see a bronze statue of me standing in a park covered with pigeon shite because that’s the last thing I’d ever want as any sort of tribute.”

A certain nameless professional was chided today for not responding to an email I sent early this morning and expecting an answer back as soon as it was received and read.  Waiting an entire work day until 15 minutes before closing time didn’t set very well with me, and anytime someone tells me how “bizzy” they are, bristles me all the more.  The question was finally asked, “Joe, are you mad at me?”  My only answer was, “I’m not mad at you, but very disappointed.”, and then continued on with my business at hand while refusing to get into any sort of senseless dialog about my disappointment.  Perhaps someday the lightbulbs for such people will actually go on to where they’ll realize how downright rude they can be in their business dealings and practices.

The photo I posted tonight is of one of many steam tunnels Alliant Energy is having opened and then filled in by one of our area contractors.  Most of our residents have no idea they’re even there because they’ve been shut down many years ago.  Believe it or not, I can clearly remember Interstate Power’s coal powered steam plant that was located just across the street north from Hardee’s parking lot which is now a small park on the banks of Willow Creek.  It was built to provide hot water heating to an area encompassing our current Historic Downtown.  There were particular dates that the steam plant would go into operation, along with dates they’d be shut down, so if there would be very cold days before or after, you’d be out of heat.

Now back to those tunnels.  They were built to house the hot water and returning cold water pipes that were connected to all the houses and commercial buildings in that plant’s reach.  Can you imagine the miles of in-coming and out-going water pipes that had to be laid and maintained?  Believe it or not, there are still underground walkways leading from existing buildings to those tunnels.  Thank goodness, the connecting tunnel from my building to that steam tunnel was closed years ago.

When our old office building was still standing at 409 N. Federal, there was a door beyond a door in its basement which lead to a steam tunnel, and believe me, it was really creepy when it was opened once for me by Roger Holtz, just to show me what was behind that curious door which was always remained locked.  I said to him at the time, “I don’t even want to think about how many dark deeds were committed or hidden in all those tunnels.”  He laughed at the time and said, “I’ve seen some pretty big rats running around down there.” Of course yours truly had to have the last words by responding, “Were they two-legged or four?”

Now just imagine yourself as a child in the backseat of an old Chevrolet while being driven past that steam plant on a cold winter’s night, and looking out the window and seeing copious clouds of steam and smoke rising from that coal-fired plant.  It could’ve been a great backdrop for an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see those gray and white clouds of smoke and steam rising.

Tonight’s one-linger is:  Everything you are against weakens you, while everything you are for, empowers you.

Joe Chodur

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