I remember playing
in, and around the river most of my younger days. We were always
looking for craw-dads and other river life. One most remarkable moment,
was when David Honaker and I watch Sam Eades fly his small plane
between the two middle arches, under the bridge. A fellow would get
into trouble for that these days, if anyone were foolish enough to try.
Winter would bring more fun, with the river frozen over. We played on
the ice, listening for it to crack. Almost tempting it to do so, as we
would slowly walk to where the ice met the water, and run back when the
ice gave its warning. Once we wrapped rope around our bike tires, and
rode up passed Camp Greenbrier. I had always heard stories of how the
river would freeze so solid, you could drive a truck across the river,
although I never saw that.
In my teens, besides girls, we discovered boats. Some of us had them,
and the ones who didn't, rode along. And of course, we fished the
river. Buddy McClung and I had a boat built, and this was probably my
first financial venture with another person. Like others, we took the
boat below the bridge from time to time. And when the river was low,
and we would have to get out and pull it back up the river. We decided
to wait until the river got a little higher so we could row it up. The
current was too strong, the boat turned sideways and sank in a second.
We gave the boat back.
The river has always presented itself a perfect model for any
photographer, or just the casual observer. In the summer, looking up,
or down, the river is beautiful. As the sun would set, you could
look up steam from off the bridge. The water was so still and dark.
You could see the reflection of the dimming sky, only being disturbed
by an occasional fish feeding on the insects that came out at night.
And in the winter, the water looking almost black by comparison to the
wet snow that covered the ground and all the branches of the trees.
When it would flood, it was awesome. I remember standing on the
bridge, watching the muddy waters filled with debris, beat against the
pillars. I also remember my folks, and others being flooded out of their
homes twice in a decade.
The river has brought joy and sorrow, serenity and beauty, excitement
and danger. It was there long before anyone I ever knew, or heard of,
took their first breath. I dare say it will be there long, long, after
I breath my last. Has the river had an effect on me? Naw, ..not much.
Roll on old fellow. What else do you have to do?