I Bet We Can Sit On These. . .
One of my daughters’ favorite family stories involves our frequent fishing trips when I was a kid. Almost every weekend, weather permitting we went fishing in Atlanta Kansas at my dad’s uncle place. It was exciting making the trip out there because we always passed a wide patch in the road called ‘Smileyburg’ and the name really tickled me. Rock creek ran through my great uncles land and evidently it provided some good fishing. He also owned the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, a gorgeous horse, aptly named Red, because of the color of his coat. I coveted that horse and wanted to ride him more than anything, but only got to once, when I was a bit older and Red wasn’t quite so wild.
The fishing was pretty good out there at Rock creek and dad tried in vain many times to get me to take an interest in it, but I didn’t like it. My dad and I had discussions about that. Maybe I just really didn’t want to sit still long enough because there was always something else to do, skipping stones, exploring, swimming; the creek was a paradise for a kid. But I think the real reason I didn’t like to fish is because the one time I caught a fish, it had swallowed the hook and my dad and grandpa really had to work hard to get the hook out of its mouth.
I watched this solemnly as they tugged and twisted, eventually cutting the barbed end off the hook to get it free. I stood there and watched and felt horrible for the fish. Dad told me they didn’t feel it, but I wasn’t sure. I knew I would feel it if that hook were in my mouth! From there after, when they would try to get me to fish I would retort, “I know I wouldn’t like having that hook in my mouth and I don’t think the fish does either!” I still feel that way.
By far my favorite thing to do out there was swim. It was pretty shallow most of the time and this one place on the creek where we would go had a sort of cove along the side, and it was a natural swimming hole. As an only child, I loved it when friends would come with us and one weekend I got lucky with a couple that mom and dad were friends with came out and brought their 5 kids with them.
Normally, I had little tolerance for these kids. Our parents played cards often and when it was late, we kids would have to go to bed. All five of them went to sleep in the same way; they banged their heads against the wall. Not terribly hard, but loud enough that even as another kid, I found it weird and distasteful.
But this was different, it involved swimming and so my tolerance was high. I could forgive many things when swimming was involved. My mom always told me that dad had me swimming before I walked. I don’t know if that is really true, but I’m surprised I don’t have gills I love water so much.
We always had to wear life jackets out there to swim if one of the adults weren’t swimming with us, which I was highly indignant about. So this one time I got to thinking about those life preservers. They were the old bright orange type that went around your neck and had straps that fastened around your chest and waist. I got to looking at them and somehow the idea came to me that we could sit on them to float if we tied them around our butts and legs.
The other kids were up for this adventure too, so we did it and headed out to the water. Please note that not a single parent had paid any attention to us, even as we waded out at this point.
As we awkwardly walked out into the water, first one pair of legs, then 5 more turned upside down in the water. The life jackets had turned us upside down!
My mom and the other mom had looked up from what ever they were doing to the sight of 6 pairs of legs kicking wildly in the water. They rushed out there and grabbed two kids at a time and pulled us out, yelling at us like crazy.
A couple of those wimpy kids were crying, but I had the time of my life. What I hadn’t understood of course that it might have been the last time of my life. All I could see was that we had an adventure and a couple of those kids were crying like babies!
Sheesh. . .