Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Swim On The Chattahoochee

(Note: It seems I can't link anymore, so just find her on the left side and check her out. I mean, look over the writing.)

My Tennessee Mountaintop gal over at <a href=""> Mystic Mud </a>, who is the mother of 10, a caretaker to a bevy of animals and an awesome writer, suggested -- Tell us a story about your childhood, from back in the day when kids were kids and ran wild and free doing and exploring. How many brothers and sisters did you have and what did you do for fun - there's got to be a funny story or two!?

Well, I can say that I was raised about a half mile from the banks of the Chattahoochee River in a little community call – of all things – Riverside.  Back then, in the late 40’s and early 50’s, Riverside was in Fulton County but not part of the City Limits of Atlanta.  That didn’t happen until the mid-50’s.

Anyway, when we moved into our 6 room house, my dad and mom, two older brothers and a sister and mom pregnant with my younger brother, there were two horses in our back yard, with two barns.  The neighbors had chickens, pigs and cows and there were still two outhouses.

The greatest thing was that across the street and all the way down to the river bank was woods.  My second home, especially in the summer time.

I learned to swim in that cold, swift moving river.  And I learned to fish from some of the men in the area who spent a lot of time down there, too.

I remember two times specifically that the rive tried to get the best of me.  Once was on a very hot summer day when me and a couple of my buddies were down on the bank goofing off.  It was so hot and the water looked so good and we were deep in the woods where no houses had been built yet (now there are million dollar homes in that area and a park on the other bank.)  Tommy and Richard walked on up to the area where boulders had made a kinda dam.  The river was smooth and calm on the north side of the rocks and a little rough on the south side with many borders spread out.  But where I stood, the water was calm and inviting.

I yelled to Richard and Tommy that I was going to take a dip to cool off.  They had the same idea, but they were going to wade out on the rocks.  Not me! I stripped down to my birthday suit and went in head first.


The water was so cold that it shocked me into stiffness and I went to the bottom.  Luckily it only lasted till the pain set in and I raced to the top and to the side of the bank.  I never realized how hyperthermia shock worked until then.  I even hurt when I got on the bank.  And then I realized how close I came to dying.  From then on I would splash water on my body and wade in and duck down to get use to the cold before diving in again.

The other time was when I was out in the middle of the river swimming like I was going somewhere.  Then I happened to see a bolder pass me from behind and going forward.  So I started swimming harder to catch that bolder, but it was outracing me.  Then I realized I was in the main current and heading down river.

My first instinct was to panic and yell to the guys for help.  But I remembered some comments from my Boy Scout leader, made while sitting around the camp fire one night…panic will kill you.  So I stopped swimming and thought about it a second…then started swimming with the current and angling toward shore.  I finally was able to sand up in waist deep water and climb on shore.  I had to walk barefooted back about a half mile through the woods and the bank to get back to my clothes and the rest of the guys.  Tommy said he saw me swimming downstream, but though I knew what I was doing so he didn’t say anything.  Lucky again!

That is just a couple of times that I couldn’t tell my mom about, not that she would have cared anyway.  There were many other adventures on that river bank but this post is long enough.  But I think you get the idea. 

I did stupid stuff even as a young kid - and I haven’t grown out of it yet.


Janie Junebug said...

Wow! I'm glad you remembered what you learned in scouts.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, we did a lot of stupid stuff as teens, it's a miracle we are still alive. How old do you have to be to outgrow stupid? Apparently 58 is not old enough for me yet.

Mystic Mud said...

I think all little (and big) boys come with a guardian angel - they have to or most of them wouldn't make it to adulthood! You were lucky, both times. We have a creek near us that we swim (and bathe) in and in the spring and fall when it is still hot out the water can be ICE cold, so I can see where it could take a person by surprise. You just don't think water could be that cold when it is hot outside.

Did your lesson about panic help you to not panic later in life? I'm not the type to panic, but after reading your story I wonder when/how I learned it wasn't helpful. It kind of drives me nuts when I see people flip out and start to panic - it never makes thing better.

Great stories, Coffey....thanks for sharing:)