1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


 Alderson Boys vs. Camp Greenbrier
(Or where the hell is the dock)?

John McCurdy 2005

            A favorite leisure-time activity of the high-school age boys of Alderson was trying to find ways to make the lives of the young men at Camp Greenbrier for Boys as miserable as we could.  The Camp Greenbrier guys were seen as upper-crust snobs from the tidewater section of Virginia, and many of them were just that. We viewed them as our rivals for the favors of the Alderson young women, and saw it as our duty to protect the ladies from the blandishments of the interloping rich boys from afar.

One Alderson boy, who lived just across the river from the Camp, would at odd intervals, row over during the campers lunch or supper hour, and steal everything that wasn’t nailed down! Several other fellows who had strong throwing arms, delighted in standing outside the Camp fence and pelting the Camp area with rocks. Another bright young man found that, with his older brother’s tennis racket, he could lob the hard pears from a tree on East Maple Avenue deep into the Campgrounds!

The owners of Camp Greenbrier weren’t too cooperative in those years either, for example; they used the Greenbrier River for swimming and canoeing, but they did not, of course, have ownership of the River, however they acted as though they did, telling anyone who attempted to use the river near them to get out!

Bob Carter, Bunk Rowe, Bill Bryant and I decided that something needed to be done to make Camp Greenbrier know they were not the Kings of the River! We decided to cut free the large dock they placed each year, in the river to use as a swimming and diving and sunning spot! The dock, we imagined,  would then float away causing confusion and consternation on the part of all Camp people, present and future, and enshrining us in the Alderson Hall of Fame as defenders of the community’s honor!

We spent several days plotting and planning our operation. We were aware that the Dock was secured by cables running to large trees on the river bank, and that bolts and nuts were used to secure the cable to the dock, what we did not know was, whether or not the bolts and nuts were badly rusted.  The Dock floated on a number of large metal oil barrels and had maybe two feet of space underneath.  We could find concealment under the dock.

We knew that we must approach the dock from the water, we decided that the best way would be to enter the river above the Camp, near what was then known  as  the  “Patton Swimming Hole”,  float  through  the  rapids downstream and approach the Dock from the upstream side! One of us then would stay in the water almost at the bank and watch for any camp folks who might spread the alarm. The others would undo the nuts and bolts that secured the cables and free the dock. We knew that the weight and size of the dock, (about 30 X 30 feet) , would prevent it from moving quickly and we would have plenty of time, after the Dock was freed, to then swim downstream to “Markley's Swimming Hole” now known as the “Alderson Mini-Park”.

We needed transportation, we enlisted “Lib” Housby and took her into our confidence, and she agreed to help!  A few nights later, in her Dad’s Oldsmobile, she took us to “Patton’s Swimming Hole”, and dropped us off to begin our mission of reprisal!

It went like clockwork, down the rapids in the cool July water, floating, bumping along like four little innocent otters until we finally reached the head of the Camp Greenbrier pool and then very silently and vigilantly underneath the Dock. One of us had brought a wrench or pliers and the undoing of the first cable took only a few minutes. When it was released the Dock swung outward in the river and for a moment we thought the movement might cause problem or even an alarm from Camp. No problem. The last cable was loosened and we very quickly counted noses and ever so quietly began the long swim down to “Markley's”.

Dear “Lib” was there to pick us up;   behind the bushes along the riverbank,  we changed into the dry clothing we had left in her automobile, then slowly, just as if she had been doing this sort of thing all her life, Lib drove us each home to the safety of our beds.

The next morning, of course, we couldn’t wait to see what had happened to the Dock. It was wonderful; the bridge had many folks on it, looking down at one of the piers and wondering who or what had happened. A number of Camp Greenbrier Canoes were nearby, with the occupants scratching their heads . We were elated...

Bill Bryant slipped away from us, went up to Camp Greenbrier and got a job helping get the Dock back home, talk about making opportunities. He worked the rest of that summer. and several more  at the Camp, a great example of opportunism at work.