1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Rock Bar
Dan Duff

These days when the sun boils down and the temperature gets unbearable, I trek out the back door make myself comfortable on a raft in the screened pool. My grandson is the pool boy and has cleaned and checked the water to make sure that is safe for me. I have an extra tall glass of ice tea and the latest crossword puzzle, and I am ready to relax for an hour or so.

It doesn't take long of relaxing before I find myself staring up at the smattering of clouds and thinking of a little spot outside of Alderson where all this could be done without the expense of building and maintaining a place to swim..............

A mile or so out of Alderson going east on route 3 past Camp Greenbrier, there is a place designated through the years as Rock Bar. It has been the unofficial municipal swimming pool for the town of Alderson for as long as the town has existed. If you grew up in Alderson or spent more than a week there during the summer months, you know where it is. The only thing that marks it along that stretch of road is a pull off parking area that might hold four cars if they park real close. You have to know the path well because it is steep and you must hold on to the brush that grows up on the highway embankment in order to get down to the river. It opens up to what truly is a rock bar that gives you room to spread a blanket and build a small fire if you wish. Well, you know.

About now you are thinking of an event in you life that took place there. Maybe you want to tell it and maybe you wouldn't dare. There are stories that would scorch the paper they're written on. There are stories that would put us all to sleep while we read them, but to the people to whom they belong, these stories stir the mind and cause the heart to beat a bit faster than usual. Rock Bar is the place where boys discovered girls. Girls discovered how to dominate boys. Hearts were broken when romances didn't happen. Hearts were broken after romance did occur. Some discovered how that girl or boy of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare. There were couples who promised to lover each other forever, and forever turned out to be two weeks. There were couples who asked for hands in marriage. I do not recall any weddings taking place there, although not for the want of it. There were families started there. Reasons for divorce occurred there. All the emotions of human endeavors occurred there including death.

When I was growing up in Alderson just about everyone who went to Rock Bar walked. If you were extremely lucky someone who recognized you would stop and give you a lift. There were times when people who did recognize you would drive on leaving you to walk the mile or so in the summer heat. There might be 15 or 20 people there and maybe two cars parked along the road. It was a place to go and cool off during the dog days of summer.

Water tag and rock skipping was some of the favorite games. I wasn't very fast so I was soon tagged by whoever was “it.” I was a pretty good water skipper and some of the best palm size flat river rocks could be found around the bank. I once saw a guy skip a rock all the way to the opposite bank. A feat I tried but never accomplished.

I am almost ashamed to say that I did not learned to swim at Rock Bar. I could dog-paddle and could make my way to the big rock out in the middle of the river. I was about 10 and had gone to the Ronceverte pool. It was great to be able to see all the way to the bottom and they had diving boards. I would dive and swim under water or dog-paddle my way to the edge of the pool. My two older brothers were there and wanted to know why I didn't know how to swim. After some lame reason that was not much more than a lie covered over by an excuse, they ushered me to the deep end and tossed me in. I started to swim but soon reverted back to dog-paddling. No sooner did I get to the side, when I was again ushered back to the deep end. By the end of the day I was swimming like a pro. Well, maybe more like a new born calf trying to take its first steps. I hated my brothers that day, but later I loved them for it. Nonetheless the next time I went to Rock Bar I was swimming to the rock.

All those years of training would pay off with the right of passage that every teenage boy in Alderson dreamed about. A time when he would be making the annual trek up the railroad tracks deep in the night to cut the docks that were moored in the middle of the river at Camp Greenbrier. Well, that's another story for another time.

“My story,” you ask? I could fill pages on pages with them. It has been so long and my mind works in such a way that what I wrote may or may not be what would be true or what would be just a story.

..............well its time for me to go take a pill or two and see what's for dinner.