I guess I should not have had a space between Man and Hole and when I write Manhole, more accurately manhole covers; I am of course not talking about part of the human male anatomy. I’m talking about the covers of access holes in roads and sidewalks that provide portals into other, not so often traveled realms. Some mundane, some electrifying, and others where no creature with a sense of smell should venture.
I’m not sure when my obsession for manhole covers began; but lately I have been thinking allot about them. I believe the reason may lie in my love of history and appreciation of vintage items. 1930s Northern Electric Rotary Telephone, 1946 Marconi Radio, Telefunken Stereo Console, etc.. My house is a testament to my love for vintage and I’m lucky to have a wife that shares if not in the love, in at least the appreciation.
Think about history and the people’s lives that rotated around the manhole, how many people have passed by or walked on their covers. For instance the manhole in this picture. I found this manhole cover in San Diego across the street from the Space and Naval Warfare Center and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to the south. So what right? Well you have to look in the past to see why the manhole is there in the first place. The clue is the date; 1944 cast on to the cover.
Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in San Diego, already been producing the B-24 Liberator bomber for France in 1940 and employed 25,000 people; this number would swell to over 45,000 as America entered WWII and the need for planes expanded. Consolidated Aircraft Corporation manufacturing facility in San Diego is now the home of the Space and Naval Warfare Center where I found this manhole cover.
Over 45,000 people every day, 365 days per year past or walked over this manhole cover between 1944 and 1946 and still after WWII though Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more this lowly manhole stands a marker in time as history is made and re-made. Just think of the sounds, music, passing conversations, joy and heartaches this single manhole cover has and still witnesses. A unnoted tenacious record bearing witness of man’s failures and achievements until one day cast as side as scrap, lost to time and with it the history endured.
In every city and every town is a manhole. A small piece of history that still lives on today; some slightly worn with time, waiting for those who want to hear and see the history they hold.