After you read the story, look for a way to win a copy of my book of memoirs, "A Heritage of Faith."
The Old Swimming Hole and Other Adventures
My husband grew up in the country near Fort Worth, Texas. When I hear his stories, I am amazed that any of the Nobles boys made it to adulthood.
Their dad was a foreman on a cattle ranch, so Charlie and his brothers, Ed and George, had endless land to play on. In the winter, they shot squirrels and rabbits, and trapped coons (and sometimes get a skunk), while during the summer they swam bare-naked in the creek for hours every day.
They liked to trap small animals like squirrels and rabbits and sell the skins to make a little extra money to buy Christmas presents. One cool, crisp autumn Saturday around Thanksgiving time, Ed and Charlie trapped a skunk and skinned it. They went home, but their mother would not let them come into the house. She gave them their dinner, but made them stay far away from the house. Even after a bath in a tub out in the yard, they still stunk. The boys went to the barn, and there they stayed for the night. The smell was so bad it made their mother’s nose hurt, even with them in the barn and her in the house. The next day their mother washed their clothes and made them take another bath in the old washtub. It helped some, but not enough.
On Monday when they went to school, all the kids were standing around the potbelly stove trying to warm up after a two-mile walk to the one-room schoolhouse. With the heat of the stove, the skunk smell that still remained on the boys' bodies intensified. The Nobles boys stunk so badly that the teacher sent them home, telling them not to come back until the stink was gone.
So they discovered an added perk to trapping wild animals. They got a couple days off school and could go out in the woods to trap more animals to make even more money for Christmas. They avoided the skunks after that experience, though.
The three brothers were each a couple of years apart. Ed was the oldest, then Charlie, then little George, who wanted so much to be like his big brothers. During the summer, the boys loved to swim with all their friends at the swimming hole near their home. Ed and Charlie had learned to swim, but George had not yet learned.
Since George wanted to be with his brothers so badly, they improvised a plan for him. They had an old, wooden sled that they used to pull wood to the house so their mom could heat up the old cook stove, and they taught George to lay his body over it and float in the water.
While his brothers and their friends swam and played, George entered from the bank, sliding into the water on his sled and staying close to the shore. His brothers had told him to stay close to the bank, and he tried to obey, but sometimes the sled drifted off. He would paddle with his hands to get back to shallower water whenever that happened. With two years between each of the boys, their ages were nine, seven, and almost five at the time. All the boys in the group tried to look out after George, since he was the youngest of all of the eight or nine little boys who played together on Silver Creek back in the mid to late 1930’s.
The Nobles boys and their friends would run to the water, strip off all their clothes, and take turns jumping in by using a long limber branch hanging from one of the trees. What fun it was to drop into the cold water. They whooped and yelled as they dropped in, immediately swimming, diving, and dunking each other.
Then one day, one of the other boys accidentally upset the little sled as he jumped into the water, and George was knocked off. Not knowing how to right himself, George struggled to get hold of the sled again, but it kept going down deeper. After a minute, one of the boys saw the empty wooden sled and said, “Where’s George?”
Panic set in as the boys dove down in the muddy water, searching frantically for their youngest companion. When one of the boys found him and drug him up on the bank, they all crowded around, each wearing only his birthday suit, trying to think what to do to help their little companion.
Now every boy was quiet. Nobody shouted or played. It was a serious moment as several naked boys stood looking at George. He lay very still, not moving at all.
They had no idea what to do, but suddenly one of them flipped George over on his stomach and began hitting him on the back while others pumped his arms. Water began to come out of George’s nose and mouth, and when he coughed, the happy boys shouted and yelled. They knew their little friend was going to be all right.
After that day, the boys were more careful when they jumped in the water. They watched for George every time. Day after day they played in Silver Creek, but they never told their mother about what had happened when George had nearly drowned.
They taught George to swim, and he no longer needed his little sled. As he grew, he was as good a swimmer as any of the others.
They played every summer day in the creek, and every winter they hunted for small animals using traps and a 22 rifle, one that today would require an adult’s supervision.
It was ten years before the boys told their mother about that day. They knew that if they told her, she would not allow them to go to the swimming hole again. George was all right, so they kept it to themselves until they all were grown and past the days of getting a whipping for what they had done.
The three boys were best of friends all through their lives. George died a few years ago, but Ed and Charlie talk on the phone every week, since they now live in different states. Charlie moved to Missouri to pastor churches, and Ed remains in Texas close to the place where they all grew up. They built a lifetime of memories when those three little boys lived on the ranch with their parents, growing up wild and free.
Using this as an example, try writing your story. Begin with a good memory, add a few descriptive words, and try to work some conversation in.
Please comment on this page with your thoughts about writing memoirs or about blogging . Every Friday, as I write, I will ask for comments. Then, in mid-April, I will tally the comments and draw a name to receive a copy of my book "A Heritage of Faith." Tell me what you think or just say "Pick me!" to get your name in the drawing.
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