Monday, June 25, 2012

Hillbilly Vacations

 This really is my blog, not his, but here he is. The Hillbilly that I love wants to tell you about why a hillbilly needs to be tough for family vacations.

About three weeks ago, I wrote a blog posting that my wife entitled "The Hillbilly Knows No Fear".  This was to have begun a series of posts that wound up being interrupted by my cherry picking and what I called the Cherry Chronicles.  So now I am once again back on subject.  Hurrah!

As you may have realized from many of my posts, being raised in the country left me with major periods of time that were unsupervised.  Due to that and my upbringing, I became a little tougher, less fearful, and I experienced some strange things.  Boys will be boys!

For instance, I made myself a trapeze in the barn loft.  I did all kinds of neat tricks and exercises on that -- unsupervised!

 My friends and I would make forts in the hay and have corn cob fights.  These were large field corn cobs, not those wimpy sweet corn cobs.  They could really skin your head.  I know this from personal head wounds.  But if it was raining or cool weather, it was something to do and was a lot of fun.  Of course it was more fun when you were the one doing the head skinning!  Kind of makes you wonder what other parents were thinking by letting their kids come visit.

After school (country school –1 room), while waiting on my dad to pick me up, two other boys and I were playing cowboy and Indians.  One of the kids had a real bow and arrows.  I got shot with a target arrow, right below my eyebrow.  Since it bled fairly heavy, that stopped the game.  Being afraid of getting in trouble with our parents, the arrow became a stick upon which I fell and hit my head.  Hey, it was wrong; I lied, but I was only six or seven years old and I eventually told them.  Okay, it was years later!

 At any rate, in looking back, I realize these experiences helped make me tough, and I had to be tough to survive vacation with my parents.  And that is what the next few postings will be about.

The first two vacations that I recall were at Lake of the Ozarks at a place called either Red Arrow Lodge or Red Feather Lodge.  Forgive me for not being precise.  I was 16 months old the first time and about 3 1/3 years old the second time.  I have mostly images.  One of them is climbing up and down steps going from the lodge to the lake.  Apparently that was particularly entertaining to me the first time we were there, and I kept my sisters busy and apparently somewhat entertained while doing so.

Another memory is of my family and others being on a dock fishing with cane poles and me wondering why everyone was catching fish but me.  But according to my mom, I caught my first fish at 16 months of age --- Eat your heart out Roland Martin!  She said I kept saying "Got a fis. Got a fis."  She said I sure enough had one.

Another memory is being in a boat with the family, and the other lasting memory was of the owners’ daughter.  She was about my sisters' age and spent a lot of time with them while we were there.  I distinctly remembered her as being blonde, slender, and pretty. Hey, I am a guy and apparently was even a guy at that age!  I, by the way, have talked to my sisters about this to see if my recollection of her was correct.  They said yes, she was blonde, petite, and pretty. I guess that some things just stick in your mind!

The next vacation I remember was down around Thayer, Arkansas when I was about six.  My mom gave me one swimming lesson there.  She held me in her arms on top of the water and had me perform swimming movements.  After a short time, she basically declared me a swimmer.  Go forth and swim!  In retrospect, it seems like a formula for failure.

However, at about the age of 7, I fell off a bridge into deep water.  I thrashed around and went under a few times as I drifted downstream.  I was screaming  for help!  People were stopping their cars on the bridge! People were panicking and running around wondering what to do!

Everyone was wringing their hands and crying out what to do, --- except for my mom.  She never got up from her seat!  She didn’t even quit fishing!  But, after this went on for what seemed like hours, (probably 30 seconds), she called out,“Swim," and I thought, "Oh yeah –I was once pronounced as being a swimmer."  And so I did!  I swam back upstream, against the current, over the deepest and most dangerous section of the water to my dad. He, at least, was kind enough to look frightened and sympathetic.  I suspect that my mom was smirking!  So, I guess the swimming lesson worked -- kinda! Everyone who had panicked then laughed either in relief or at me.  Who knows!

I’ll end by saying teach your children to swim!  And let me suggest more than one short lesson.  Swimming has saved my life more than once and let me save my younger cousin who didn’t yet know how to swim.  Those are stories of their own that will eventually be told.

Vacation stories that are still coming are "The Island," and "Bears and Photography"!

From the Hillbilly’s Corner!      

 I guess hillbilly swim lessons are different from other swim lessons. My dad, who also was born in Missouri, said he learned to swim when he fell off the rope swing over the river at the wrong spot. His brothers hollered, "Swim!" So he did. Sure would have saved me a bundle on my kids' swim lessons if I'd known that was all there was to it. 

So...does anything in your childhood resemble The Hillbilly's childhood? Anything at all?

What do you think of hillbilly swim lessons? How did you learn to swim? I had a few lessons, and then I kind of taught myself in the shallow part of the public pool.

  Hanging out at Yeah Write this week.