1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



My Yearly Swim
A Short Sermon On a Wet Subject
John McCurdy ‘04

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 alone!

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 be back!

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.