A Summer Day – by Jim Evans

(March 1998)


When I was about twelve years old, a typical summer day would go something like this. I would get up at about 9:30 and get on my bicycle and ride over to Powell, which was about three fourths of a mile away. Along the way I would stop and talk to anyone that was around. It might be a neighbor sweeping the walk, since I knew them all, I stopped and said hello and made small talk. Sometimes, it was a farmer along the way that was working in his field or garden, that I would stop and talk with – in our small town we were all friendly. When I came to the creek I checked out the swimming hole that was just below the bridge that I crossed on my way to Powell. If anyone could be seen near the swimming hole I would get off my bicycle and see who was there. I was sure I would know them if they were swimming in our regular spot. Back in those days I knew ninety-five percent of the people in Powell by name and recognized the faces of many more. My next stop would be the grocery store. Although there were three stores in Powell for most of my early life, Groner’s was really the only one as far as most of us were concerned. I hope to devote a whole page to tell about Groner’s later but back to my typical summer day.

At “the store” I would park my bicycle and see who was there. Usually there would be some people sitting on the bench out front just hanging out and drinking a “coke”, the soft drink that is, we had never heard of the stuff they call coke nowadays. I would usually go in and get me a “coke” too and come out and join them. It did not really matter to me if they were grown men or someone my age, I talked to them all, they were all my friends and they would share my conversation.

One person who was a regular at “the store” was Mr. Norman Gill. Norman owned the Gill Lumber Co. which was just a half a block away from “the store.” About every hour in the summer Norman would walk up to” the store “and sit and drink a “coke.” Now, Mr. Norman Gill was one of the few people in Powell that could afford to buy and consume soft drinks that way. A soft drink was a luxury item. Times were hard and spending money on soft drinks were wasteful. Most children were not likely to get one soft drink each week and some probably did not get one per month. Since I was a paper boy, I usually had some change in my pocket and I could spend a nickel for a coke now and then. (Soft drinks had always been five cents ever since I was born.) But Mr. Gill drank them every day-several times a day! The Powell people said Mr. Gill would die young, since it was a known fact back then that all soft drinks were hard on the human body but “cokes” would just “eat up your stomach”. We keep waiting for Norman to die and he just kept on drinking “cokes.” Year after year we waited, knowing all the time he did not have much longer to live. Well I finished my years at Powell High School, got married, had children and finally Mr. Norman Gill died. He was about ninety years old and I think he still drank “cokes” till the end.

Well back to my typical summer day. When I could not find anyone else to talk to at the “store”, I would ride by bike through the neighborhood and past some of my friends houses till I found someone at home. I would stop and talk, but my real aim was to get them to get on their bike and head for the swimming hole. Usually, I would find somebody that would go and we would work at finding a third person, since it was more fun with about three or four swimming at a time. Next we would try to decide which swimming hole we would go to. The one I passed on the way to Powell was called “Brown’s Swimming Hole”. The others had names like “Big Boy” “Deep Bend” and so on. We knew them all and before the day was over we might likely try a couple of them if we were so minded. Each hole had it’s own personality. “Browns” had a big log that laid right out in the water and very nearly spanned the entire creek. We could dive off the bank, swim over and sit on the log and not have to climb out of the water very often. At Brown’s ( Mr. Horace Brown owned the property), we were a good block away from the road and underbrush pretty well kept us covered. We could see cars running down the road but they would have a very hard time seeing us. Also Brown’s had big stump on the creek bank Which made a good place to put our clothes to keep them off the ground. We would take bets to see who would be the last one to hit the water. Imagine three or four naked boys diving into the creek, then imagine them all sitting on the log in a row. We were happy as could be swimming without clothes and felt quite brave as we possessed a complete lack of modesty.

One day Mr. Brown surprised us. He just came walking along the creek but not where we would have expected him. And along with him were two girls, his daughter and her friend. They came walking out of the woods that were across the creek. This was not Mr. Brown’s land and I still don’t know why they were there. The place they were walking in was like a wilderness. We got underwater fast! And we stayed underwater until they had ventured far away. We had been surprised and our modesty had quickly returned. We really expected to have to deal with our parents about being nude on Mr. Brown’s property but nothing every came up about it. Incidentally his son sometimes swam there with us. No one ever used a bathing suit in the creek. We could all dive and swim. And I can never remember any of us getting into a fight. It was great fun and great exercise. After an hour or so we would be tired or bored and we would put on our clothes and get on our bikes and go our separate ways. By now I was starving and it was likely lunch time so I needed to report in at home. Mom did not worry just as long as I showed up on time for lunch.

After lunch I would sit around awhile killing time. After a while, a friend would usually come walking by that was just as bored as I was with all these idle summer days. We would likely pass ball awhile then head off to the creek again. Cold creek water can be very refreshing on a hot boring day. We would sometimes walk through a field that was across the road from my house to get to one of our favorite swimming holes. “Big Boy” was the only deep place to swim in the whole creek. The water there was about six and a half feet deep. Years before, someone had installed a very long rope attached to a high limb in a big tree beside the creek. The rope was huge and in very good condition, so we performed nude acrobatic stunts on nearly a daily basis. We would climb on that rope two or three at a time and swing over the water. The rope swung sort of down the creek rather than across the creek, so we could have a really long ride and a high ride! One thing different about “Big Boy Swimming Hole” was if you were going in there , you should be able to swim because the water was over your head. One day we were swimming there and a group of young non swimmers came and started swinging on the rope and dropping off. I saw the first one in come up and then he started sputtering in the water and I realized that he couldn’t swim. I jumped into the creek and came up behind him swimming and sort of lifted and pushed him over to the bank where he could walk out. It was a serious matter for he could of drowned, but he was laughing and having the time of his life. No sooner did I get him to the bank than another kid jumped off and was out there in the deep water sputtering. There were about six of these kids., and maybe out of the bunch there were two that could swim. But all of them were jumping into the deep water just like they could swim. I would no sooner get one to the bank and another one would jump in laughing- just like there was no danger. I tired quickly! But no one else had the swimming- strength to push them up and out. By now I was frantic, because I knew someone was going to drown and my energy was gone. By now, I was screaming at the top of my voice for them not to get back on the rope. Finally, after what seemed like a half an hour, they quit swinging on the rope. And, they all left just as quickly as they had appeared. They went away laughing , for they had had a good time. I was glad they were gone because I had had a miserable time! Till this day I still don’t believe they ever saw the slightest danger or realized that “Big Boy “could have caused their death.

Well back to my typical summer day. After the afternoon swim, I had to be home by three o’clock to run my paper route. The paper route took about and hour and a half to two hours to carry and I would not be home until around five o’clock.

Perhaps someday I’ll write about my paper route, for after all, it’s a story of it’s own.

(The house I lived in was on Beaver Creek Drive just across the little side street from the present day location of Temple Baptist Church. ” Brown’s Swimming Hole” was just below the Brickyard Road bridge over Beaver Creek. ( This property is still owned by some of the Browns).  Groner’s Store was in the building now occupied by the Northwest Glass Co. The Gill Lumber Co. was located on the site now occupied by the garbage dump on Emory Road.)

(I wrote this in 2004 at the request of my daughter Jan. She wanted me to write down some of these stories for her children.)

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