By Rick Houser –
I have written before about my friends Herb and Charlie Marshall and how we kept ourselves entertained and busy as we were growing up on Fruit Ridge back in the 60’s. It really never mattered what time of day or season of the year it was, or whether we were working or just playing, we almost always found a way to make it better. They had very creative minds and inventive ways to cause whatever we were into to come off as real as it could possibly be, and whatever we were into it was always special.
I got to thinking about one summer after a very wet and rainy spring that was keeping the water table higher than usual and we had more spare time from work and more time to wander up and down the roads. One day it began to rain on us and we took shelter under a small bridge underpass. As the rain became steady and we realized we were going to be there for a while, we also realized that it really wasn’t all that bad a place to be. It was high enough for us to stand up in and roomy enough for us to move around in and most of the rain water stayed to one side of the culvert, leaving a good two thirds of it remaining dry. Also, at the end where the water dropped out there was a pretty big sized water hole that was maybe three to four feet deep and maybe twelve feet in circumference.
To me this just looked like a pool of water (I never have been creative). But to Herb and Charlie and their imaginations they saw a swimming hole. Not only that, but we were standing in a cave. At first I just saw a culvert and a pool of rain water but with their convincing I began to see the roomy, cozy cave and our own personal swimming hole at our convenience and only one step from our cave. Yes, the scene was coming to life in my mind and once the mind sees something the rest of a person is sold on the idea.
When the rain stopped, Herb and Charlie kicked off their shoes and yelled “cannonball” and jumped into that pool of water. Maybe the sound of the water splashing brought me back to reality but a fear shot straight through me. I said out loud “hey guys, I can’t swim!” Both asked me “what did that matter” as the water was maybe only four feet deep at its deepest and I didn’t have to know how to swim. That didn’t convince me.
I was scared and I guess they could see that but they just kept talking to me and reassuring me that they would never let me get in a dangerous spot. Slowly I put my feet into the edge and waded a little. As I walked in I moved in a little deeper and they would ask if I was having any trouble or ask how was I doing but never rushed me. After what seemed a long time to me, I was standing in the deep spot of the pool. Mission accomplished! I had conquered my fear of that water hole.
For days we would load up our bikes and take food and beverages so that we could enjoy the great outdoors a bit longer. We packed hot dogs, buns. and some mustard along with chips and vienna sausages and maybe some snacks or some old cake or pie, and with the small sticks we gathered and the box of matches that we snuck out to build a fire, we cooked out just like any other camper of that day. Actually we were just three boys trying to cook over a smoking sputter of a fire under an old concreate bridge that had a pool of muddy water. But to us we had created a campsite/swimming pool reserved only for the three of us. The imagination is truly one of the greatest gifts the good Lord ever gave man and with Herb and Charlie, I learned how to let that gift work for me.
This of course is just one of the creations to occupy time that came into our lives. There really isn’t a way I can recall them all, but this was just a sample of how we took really nothing and turned it into not only something but something we considered special. I learned through these two that if you don’t have something, it didn’t really mean you couldn’t have something. Just put your mind to work and when you look at something, don’t look for what isn’t there, but look for what you can see is there and more than likely it is there. Thanks guys!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.