In the summer of 1953 it was time for the boys in the neighborhood to find a good place to get cooled down from the summer heat.
Some of the neighbors had already found a good place to swim on Johnson's Branch.
The creek ran under the old street car lines (the Interurban).
On the creek was a large concrete culvert with two large arches, 10 feet high by 8 feet wide, each with concrete floors.
The creek was located about 1/3 mile east of the Clay/Putnam county line. The water flowed south through the culvert and had washed out, on the north side, a nice swimming hole, about 20 feet by 20 feet and 2-3 feet deep.
Our neighbors, the LaFollettes, had to walk about 1/4 mile or less to get to the swimming hole, through a field and some woods, along a nice path all the way.
One day while about half a dozen of us were swimming, suddenly, there stood "Pap" Fred LaFollette in the east arch of the culvert.
Now, Pap had a health problem, a blood disease, and was pretty pale but always in good humor.
It was a surprise to see him there.
Then, he dove in the deepest part and, as we were all watching him, we began to notice he never came back up.
Seconds, then a minute went by, then several minutes. Then we began to holler for him and went through the water, kicking our feet, trying to locate him.
Finally, his son, Frank, went over to the water's edge, where the brush hung over the water. There was Pap with a big grin on his face.
He sure pulled a good one on all of us that day.
We were not mad at him at all. We were just glad it was only a prank and ole Pap was havin' some fun.
In the summer of 1954, my buddy, Gene Hassler, and me had found a big swimming hole at Reelsville. This one was a dandy.
It was located where the Pennsylvania Railroad trestle crossed over the Big Walnut River in Reelsville.
Just to the south side of the trestle, the water went from a riffle to a nice deep hole about 50 feet by 30 feet by 9 feet deep.
Some of the local boys had found a 2-by-12-by16 foot board that had fallen off the trestle and placed one end of it under the heavy rip rap rock that the railroad had dumped around a pier. The other end of the board stuck out over the river 4 or 5 feet.
On a hot day, 10-15 people would be there, swimming and diving.
One hot summer day in 1954, my buddy, Gene, and I rode our bikes from our homes on the Clay/Putnam county line to the Reelsville store, about 2 1/2 miles, for a little refreshment.
Then we thought we might go swimming on the nice railroad trestle swimming hole.
We had to ride our bikes over the steep Reelsville hill but we had a little problem because Gene's bike had no fenders and no brakes.
Gene, a 6-footer, had no shoes on but he could use his feet to brake; they were tough. He could press against the tirevor put both feet down on the ground, and this worked if he was not moving very fast.
He went to the top of the hill and devised a plan.
I was to go down the hill first.
At the bottom of the hill was the Big Walnut River bridge. The bridge was offset from the top of the hill and was mostly out of view except for one end.
I was supposed to yell back up to Gene when I reached the far end of the one-way bridge and tell him if all was clear on the bridge.
Down the hill I went and over the bridge. Just as I was ready to give the all clear to Gene, up the ramp came a loaded logging truck.
I barely made it through the bridge in time. I looked back up the hill but the truck was in my way with the engine roaring. I couldn't see Gene anywhere so I went on to the swimming hole, which was only about 250 yards further.
I was hoping Gene saw the truck in time and didn't try the hill.
After about 15 minutes, Gene arrived at the swimming hole. He had blood, cuts and scrapes on both knees and his elbows and hands.
It was about 90 degrees in the shade that day but Gene was much hotter than that.
I was in the water and he was standing on the bank, glaring at me.
"Where were you at?" he yelled. "You were supposed to yell back up the hill, you @@##$%^#!"
Later, he said he took off down the hill, got close to the bridge and met the logging truck coming through.
He stuck both feet down on the road and then went end over end, sliding down the road on his hands and knees. Ouch, ouch ouch.
Gene finally calmed down and got in the cold river which stopped the bleeding.
That cold river water might have kept me from being killed that day.
Our ride back home was rather quiet.
Moral: Sometimes our most careful, calculated plans at the top cannot foresee what might come through at the bottom, which could cause, pain, heat, cursing and fear.