This is the second of my Father’s stories as told to me in his later years. As my brothers noted, the stories have grown in embleshments and drama. My reply to them is this, I have reported them as faithfully as I recall them but we all know that memory is a slippery illusion. So on this frosty winter day, I will relate a swimming story.
Bruce lived across from a creek fed pond that was the swimming hole for many Northville children growing in the 1920 and 1930’s. When Bruce and his friends were 12 or so, they wanted a more exciting swimming experience.
One day, John Springer and two buddies invited Bruce to go swimming in a new swimming hole.
“Get your bike,” John ordered.
“Where are we going?” asked Bruce.
“You’ll see,” replied John.
They rode down Seven Mile to the old abandoned gravel pit. In the middle of the piles of gravel and sand, was a deep depression filled with spring water.
The boys stripped down to their birthdayy suits and jumped in. The water was cold and refereshing on a warm summer Saturday morning.
After racing each other across the water, the dares started.
“I bet I can hold my breath for 2 minutes!”
“I can stay under for longer than that!”
“Who has a stopwatch?”
” We’ll just count the seconds aloud.”
The boys took turns drawing lungfuls of air before diving to the bottom.
One of the larger boys floated easily and had a difficult time staying submerged. He lasted a minute and a half. The second boy swam along the bottom and lasted over 2 minutes. Finally it was John’s and Bruce’s turn. They both dove down to the bottom. John started to swim towards the shore underwater. Bruce thought that swimming would deplete his air supply. He looked for something to hang on to.
There were several pieces of large equipment submerged in the center of the water hole. Bruce followed a back hoe’s shovel arm down to a hand hold near the bottom.
Counting to himself, he stayed for longer than three minutes. Almost out of air and lungs starting to burn, Bruce started to the surface.
Before he reached the air, something held his leg tightly. The harder he pulled, the tighter it held him.
Finally with a light head he swam to feel his leg. A loose cable was wrapped around his ankle. swimming down to loosen the cable, he released his leg and shot to the surface.
Gulping the warm summer air, he vaguely heard the cheers from the other boys. Bruce had stayed under for four minutes.
None of the other boys had seen Bruce in distress. He was too numb to tell them what really happened.
They returned to the shore, retrieved their clothes and drove their bikes home.
When Bruce entered his Mother’s kitchen, Grandma had her back to the door.
“Get ready for dinner,” she said without turning.
He bolted upstairs shivering with the cold and the near excape. Drawing a hot bath, he lay in the bath for several minutes. Finally, he got out, dressed in dry clothes and joined the family for dinner.
“I never told my barents or friends what happen,” he confided,”It will be our little secret.”
I wondered how many times he told this story and what evolved in the plot?
From my book Leaf Memories
Old growth is precious.
Densely packed with rings of knowledge.
End of the line…but not quite.
Though the old tree is gone, the seedlings remain.
Not exact copies, but having the same inner core.
They grow strong and tall.
Encircling the memory of the stump.