Monday, December 29, 2014

Old Swimming Holes

Several days ago, I drove by one of the places that as children, I used to swim. It threw me back to the time of my childhood and the several spots in local streams that we swam. There was only one large swimming pool in the area and it cost money to go there to use the diving board, changing rooms, and it even had a slide. I think we may have visited it two times. It was called Maple Grove, Cutty’s and it is called Pine Acres.
What I really wanted to comment on were the deep spots in streams where we would gather on hot days. The first was located beneath a bridge, between Normalville and Indian Head, Pennsylvania. It was the closest to home and it was the challenge swim. We made the challenge to swim in the deep and shaded part of the stream. The waters flowed from melted snow and ice as well as from smaller streams and springs. This water had little chance to warm as its course wound around rocks, shaded by the trees that overhang the flow. We boys would challenge each other to be in the stream before the beginning of May while the water was still icy. We had to build a fire before we swam here, even later in the year when the sun was hot.
The one most frequented was the farthest away. We would walk to our friend’s home along the way and together and hike together. Once all eight of us did pile on an old Ford tractor and ride there. It was probably three miles from our home, but it was more fun because it was a larger dammed area and there were usually others there. The water was warmer because the water was slower moving covered a larger area.
The final place I’m going to mention is very close to Indian Head. There used to be an open field where kids would gather to play softball. There was no backstop or outfield fencing, only green briars and weeds. The draw to play ball here was the nearby creek. It was a secluded spot, dammed by kids and only twenty yards from the ball field.
Playing ball under a summer sun was hot work for kids and the water of the stream was cool and refreshing after however many innings we played. Entering the wooded bank of the stream, we shed our inhibitions and our clothing to “skinny dip.” The plunge into the water was an exhilarating experience. It was a glorious feeling. Hidden from prying eyes we swam and dove like otters, frolicking in the cool shade and water.
The only drawback was when a train would roar by on the far bank. Every naked boy would head to deep water and watch the train roll by with water lapping beneath our chins. The engineer would smile and wave. We were sure that he knew what we were doing. After all, he had been a kid once, too.

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