It took a lot to really scare me when I was a child but the event with the swinging bridge sure did that. This bridge was at the mouth of a creek, which emptied into the Cumberland River. At that point the creek was wide and deep and looking down from that swinging bridge, it seemed a long way down to the water. I had always avoided that bridge because, at that age, I was already afraid of heights. However, as kids will do, I accepted a dare to cross it along with several other kids. We took turns walking over the bridge, holding on to ropes on each side. The floor of the bridge was some kind of wire covered with boards. When my turn came to cross, one boy on each side started the bridge to swinging. There I was out in the middle scared within an inch of my life. I saw no recourse but to get down and crawl and I decided right then and there to kill both boys if I ever lived to get over the bridge. When I finally got to the end, both boys had disappeared. I saw nothing of them for quite some time and by that time, I decided to let the whole thing pass into history for fear my parents might find out, especially if I got into a fight over it.
Another frightening and dangerous thing which I did quite often was to cross a pasture as a shortcut to a pond where I loved to fish. I had to climb a fence to the pasture, watch for a big red bull, and gauge the distance from my point to the other fence against the distance the bull could run after me. When the bull was a certain distance away, I would climb that fence and run like the wind to the other fence and climb it in a hurry and be on my way to Hopson’s pond to fish. I always carried a Pepsi Cola, a candy bar, and a can of worms, all of which impeded my speed. A few times, I misjudged the distance to the bull and just barely got over the second fence. I still wonder why someone at the nearby gas station didn’t tell my parents who would have banned my fishing expeditions for good. This shortcut didn’t save much time but it kept the folks at the gas station from getting a clear picture of my transgression. Maybe that’s why my parents didn’t know about it.
When you read of these two dangers, remember that all kids in Canton roamed freely all day and our parents never dreamed of such dangers.
Now I will tell you of the really worst thing we did. The Cumberland River was about a block or two from our homes and we were tempted to swim in the river. None of us were very good swimmers and were only ten or eleven years old and never realized the dangers. We did know that to take bathing suits, if we even had any, would be a dead giveaway so we stripped down to our underwear. We knew that there was a big flat rock underwater, which went out several yards, and we would wade out until we could feel the current, which came up to the big drop-off. Once the current swept us off our feet, we would swim to the bank, if getting there could be called swimming.
I have written at some time in the past, but it bears repeating, about the hysteria between two of us when we were baptized at a later time. We were a bit older but knew the danger the preacher was leading us into when he waded out on that flat rock. I remember that I went first and I tried to keep on the bank side of the preacher but he kept pulling me forward. I well remember looking at my friend Junior who was next in line to be drowned. His mouth was wide open and he had a terrible look of fear. I sure thought my time had come and I couldn’t tell anyone about the danger. I would have been quite willing to put that preacher on the outside to drown in the current.
Strangely, none of us ever got hurt, not even a broken arm. In thinking back to those times, I imagine we were no different than kids who lived in our little village before our time. My husband told me of things that happened in his hometown on Little River and they were pretty wild, too. I might add that no smaller children were allowed to tag along on our ventures and that cut down considerably on the possibility of parents knowing.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632. I can’t possibly respond to each of your Christmas cards but I do certainly appreciate hearing from you. If you would like one of my books about gardening, please include a check for $12.50 and I will send it in time for Christmas. The book is called “Going Through the Garden” and is a month-by-month guide.