Nowadays (that has to be a word) folks just don't swim unless they can see the bottom of the pool but in the days growing up in the Osage we swam with the fishes. In particular I remember in the heat of summer mom would rally the troops and we took off through the pasture to the pond east of the house. It was a catfish pond because it was too muddy for a bass pond and when you walked into the pond you could feel the mud squeeze up between your toes. In fact I bet the mud was over a foot deep because when you would take a step there was a suction around your feet making it hard to walk much less run into the water. This is the same pond I wrote about where Larry and I went to play hockey during the winter. Anyway generally Debbie, Larry, Mom and I would go but it seemed more often than not another family would be with us or at least their kids. I can remember Mom would always be wearing a brown swim suit and Dad never went swimming. Many times you could feel the fish bumping into your legs and occasionally trying to nip at your toes and fingers. Maybe we were noodlers and did not know it, HUM? The other great part of the swim was the water was soooooooo cool but the cool water was generally about 1 to 2 feet below the surface. The surface water was quit warm like bath water and the air temperature was normally in the 90's. Isn't is interesting how water just a few feet below the surface can be so cold to down right cold? I don't know why but I guess it was just that I trusted my folks judgement but I never had a fear of swimming in that muddy water and I gave little thought to when I saw a water moccasin (snake) in the pond.
Now back to Dad, it was interesting that he never learned to swim but what folks did not know is Dad's oldest brother (Arvin as I recall) had drown when he was about 18 years old and my grandad was so torn up about it that he never let the boys go swimming again and the young ones never even got a chance to learn. I guess it might have been Grandma Olson that stopped the swimming but after losing one son they were not going to take a chance again.. Tragedy can change a families life. Speaking of being over protective there were five sons still living and all five were in WWII at the same time. Now that is what I would call stressful.
Back to swimming. We also would go swimming in the creek behind the house (west of the house) but generally it was too shallow of water to swim in but you certainly could go wading and there were a few small pools of water but not enough room to swim in. Now that was true for Beaver Creek but the old Salt Creek had plenty of places to swim and when in high school we boys found ourselves in the creek often. In fact there was always a contest to see who would go swimming first after the new year. As I recall it was either Rick Cottle or Steve Chrisco who generally would win this one. If I had to pick the most daring person it would have to be Hugh Allen Jones as he could never risk a dare and in fact if you wanted to suck him into some deal all you would have to do is challenge him by suggesting that he was chicken (scared). He always had guts and again that is why he was a Marine.
Oh well, I gotta go as I am on the way to Texas for a little work. Yes I still work and if you want to know more look at www.garylolson.net.
So what do you learn in the Osage?
- Fear exists if someone around you teaches you fear -
- Sometimes there is a snake in the grass metaphorically speaking
- Tragedy is not what defines you/me but how you react is what defines a person
Thanks for listening,