Wednesday, December 12, 2012
My grandfather had farmed a fairly large farm south of Springfield, MO from way before my mom, his oldest daughter, was born. He was way before his time, and not even grandma could tell us why he had done it. He had a large pond in the back forty (over the hill), had it fixed up with picnic tables, two shelters, horseshoe pits, a basketball court, a big and a small grilling pit, etc. The pond was fixed for swimming when it was built and my mom, her brother and three sisters had visitors at the "Swimmin' Hole and Grilery" (when my brother and I first visited, the old wooden sign was still hanging) almost every evening in the summer as all the "youngin's" finished with evening chores and other hot and boring stuff considered important by the grown-ups (my uncle was probably the one who planted the seed of humor that has grown to a big tree with me - he called them "g r o a n - ups", with the accompanying sounds and his imitations of certain neighbor men and women).
By the time my mom had grown up, moved to California, got married and had two son's (8 and 5), my uncle had just started high school. When we visited, we were often allowed to hang around the big kids (until it got dark - I never could figure out why until many years later).
After my uncle graduated from high school, the"Swimmin' Hole" was only used the summertime when my brother and I came out to "help" grandpa at mowing time, and occasionally when some of the little brothers and sisters of the "old crowd" asked to use it. My grandfather never said "No", and slowly the kids from the other farms quit asking permission.
One evening, before my brother and I had arrived for the summer (we'd gotten that two weeks gradually stretched out to two weeks after school ended until two weeks before it started), grandpa decided to go down to the pond and make sure the overflow was clean (the pond was fed by a small spring) and the cows had kept the grass cropped down (so you wouldn't inadvertently step on a copperhead or cottonmouth water moccasin).
My uncle (who told us this story) was with him that evening.
As they neared the pond, they heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As they came closer they saw it was a bunch of young high school and college girls from around the area, skinny-dipping in the pond. Grandpa made the young women aware of their presence and the girls all went to the deep end of the pond.
One of the girls shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave! Go away Mr. Taylor, and you too, Jimmy!"
My uncle had no idea what came over grandpa that night, but grandpa yelled right back, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim or make you get out of my pond, I only came to feed my alligators."
He didn't have a burlap sack in his hands, nor was he carrying a bucket, but the girls (OK, young women) heard "alligators" and they nearly walked on water to get to their clothes and into their cars. (Alligators aren't native to southern Missouri, but sometimes someone would bring a couple of gators up from Louisiana. If they were able to make a gator nest, they could survive until they got big enough to start bothering stock. Then someone would take Mister's Smith and Wesson out to introduce to the gators.
My uncle never could tell the story without cracking up, and when he was telling stories with the other men with their pint canning glasses filled with "wwwater" (that's what they called the moonshine a neighbor always brought), grandpa's face would get darker (red looks darker in the moonlight) and he'd "take a walk and stretch my legs - just for a bit".
Dang. Wish I could have been there to see all those silly girls running around and screaming.