As a youth I often traveled the
mile or so up the Greenbrier River from Alderson to the towns swimming
hole, “Rock-bar.” Along the bank of the river one could nearly always
find the remnants of a used cake of some kind of soap, if not, one could
scrub with sand and then jump in the river and wash it off, it was a
ritual that has continued for years.
As the years went along and other
things made demands, I went there less and less, but I always managed at
least one trip and now I always took my own cake of soap, now it is
Kirk’s Hard Water Castile that I have used for 40 plus years. Not the
same cake, of course!
Yesterday I made my annual excursion, the air and the water is chillier
now than once it was and the rocks of the bank and river bottoms haven’t
gotten a bit softer since a year ago, but finally I’m in deep enough
water to swim out to the rock.
I sit on the rock and remember the countless games of “King of the Rock”
and the diving contests and the duckings and near drownings by the
larger kids. I sit there and I lather up and I wonder if the high school
class ring I lost at this exact place a week after I had gotten it is
still somewhere down among the rocks of the bottom.
I can, in my minds eye, see so many of the people from my past,
sunbathing there on shore, skipping rocks, enjoying a hot summer day
along the Greenbrier.
I look upstream and there is the “Saddle-rock” as we called it, the spot
where the older youths went to get away from both the adults and the
younger kids. The spot where one went when with a girl and wanting to be
One needed to be a more than adequate swimmer to get to the Saddle-rock,
one had to be familiar with the river and the deep waters that lay
between the two rocks. One could wade out to the Rock from the shore but
that was just not the sort of thing one did! One swam up to Saddle-rock!
There was, however, a hidden rock between the two places and it was a
simple matter if you knew where it was, one could then stand there a
moment and rest and then swim on.
I wondered if I could find that rock after all these years and so, like
the old fool I am, I started swimming up the river; just when I started
to panic, I realized that I was touching the resting rock in the middle
of the deep water! Memory had served me well. A moments rest and I swam
to the Saddle-rock, lay on my back and looked at the blue sky and the
mountains surrounding me. In a few moments, I told the ghosts of years
past goodbye, and began the swim back downriver, but now I knew that I
had not forgotten where the rock to rest on was located and I was
confident I still had what it takes, even if not a whole lot of it! I’d
Walking slowly up the bank toward my car, I suddenly realized that I had
just reaffirmed a lesson of life, that one has many resting places, but
one must know where to look. One learns of those places from parents,
from our teachers and our church and in possibly the hardest of all
ways, by life itself.