I was never a malicious or a destructive kid, but I was curious. I liked going places where I wasn’t supposed to go just to see what was there. One place of particular fascination was the local steel mill. This industrial site had an eight-foot fence with a barbed wire top that surrounded its 40 acre setting. The main gate had a guard posted there, 24 hours a day; however there was one gate that nearly always remained open. It was the gate where railroad cars came in with scrap iron.
The scrap iron cars never seemed to be on any particular schedule, but every once in a while a freight train would come in and drop off several cars of scrap and then retrieve the cars that had been emptied earlier in the week.
The mill operated six days a week but only the maintenance crew worked on Sundays. The scrap yard was unguarded so my brother and I would sneak in and wander through the piles. We weren’t there to steal anything, though a couple of cannon balls were liberated for the reason of historic preservation.
Our presence there was more to see objects and try to figure out what they were. Every piece there had a history and a purpose. We would find the most amazing things. We had no idea what they were but their design was simply amazing. It was like going through Brautigan's forgotten works. We could spend hours there.
During the next week the piles would all be moved into the mill and recycled into things that would be recycled again several years in the future. The following week the newly arrived freight cars would be unloaded and we would have a mountain of new objects to find on the next Sunday.
All the years we visited the scrap mountains we were never found or chased from the property. My brother got a job there as a mechanic years later. He ended up working on the electromagnetic cranes that lifted all that scrap metal into the foundry.