Saturday, October 9, 2010

Swimming Hole

Chores were complete that sunny summer morning. School was finished for the year and now we could decide how to spend our time. I spent a lot of time walking the Union Pacific tracks that ran behind our home. The ore that spilled from the railcars was interesting. Iron pyrite was worthless but the sparkling crystals looked so rich that about half my rock collection was composed of the shiny rocks.

The swimming hole was about a mile from home so I had to have permission from Mom to go that far to play. It was far enough away to make the trip something special. Mom couldn't keep her eye on us that far away. Walking south on the tracks for a little less than a mile, I came to the creek. A bend in the stream had cut into the clay bank leaving a cliff about fifteen feet high where the more daring boys would jump into the creek. Arriving before the swimmers had muddied the water, I could watch the large fish swimming in the hole below the cliff.

Even on these hot summer days the water was very cold. I was satisfied to jump off the bank, float around and watch the better swimmers jump from higher on the cliff. Becoming engrossed in the diving, I was swept into the shallows where I stubbed my toe and bruised my tender feet. We hadn't brought a towel to dry off but playing in the warm sunshine soon dried our skin. The swimming suits took longer to dry.

Going back years later, I could hardly recognize the spot. Russian Olive, willow and Chinese Elm trees have grown along the bank; the cheat grass has surrendered dominance to weeds and taller grasses that reach above my waist. It was never a residential neighborhood but the few surrounding homes are now gone, replaced by industry and businesses. Just this year one large industrial company was replaced by apartment buildings. Perhaps as time passes the old neighborhood will again ring with children's voices but it will never be the same. The times when your doors were left unlocked and neighbors shared snacks with neighborhood children will never return, I'm afraid. I don't think my grandchildren have ever made a whistle from joint grass but I, likewise, never played video games when I was a child.

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