Jimmy Ray Lee’s old stories…One swim hole left

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jimmy Ray Lee’s Old Stories: One Swim Hole Left

There is not a one of us that does not like to be reminded of pleasant memories of the past. Jimmy Ray Lee has put some of his “rememberings” down on paper so they wont be lost forever. He describes to us the “one swim hole left.”

Lee begins his story with,  “For the last few years, every time I cross Whitesand Creek Bridge and look up the creek I think to myself, ‘what is happening to the water?’ The creek is slowly drying up at the bridge and all you can see are tall water weeds and a small stream of water.

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About 45 years ago, when we had time off from all of our farm work, we would stay all day on old Whitesand. We had a swim hole behind the preacher’s house and on weekends there was always a crowd there. That was the place in our day to be.

It was always a sight to see someone, who had never had the privilege to take a plunge in the old swim hole, jump in that cold clear water and see the look on their faces and hear the words that come out of their mouth when they surfaced. All of us who were used to the cold water would laugh and poke fun at them.

A lot of times when I cross the creek on my way to town I think about all the good times my family and friends used to have about two bends up behind the preacher’s house at that the old swim hole, knowing that it’s impossible for that to ever happen again. For one thing, a lot of the people that were with us have either moved away or died and now if we were all standing on the bank and went in we would not even get our feet wet.

Whitesand Creek has been around probably since God created the world. I have had my grandpa tell the same stories to me that I would tell my wife and children (clear and cold).

A couple of years ago my son and nephew went to the old swim hole. It was filled in with fallen trees and water grass, and like at the bridge, just a trickle of water.

I have come to realize that Whitesand Creek is probably like everything else. The older it gets, the weaker it becomes and sooner or later the mud and limbs and the tall water grass will clog the water channel and it won’t be long until the water stops flowing and like life itself, it ends.

About a month ago, my son and nephew and a couple of their friends decided to see if they could follow the stream of water and maybe find some of the old springs that provide water for the creek. When my son got home that evening he was as excited as if he had found the Eldorado.

‘Daddy, you have got to go tomorrow; you just got to go in with us. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, a deep clear blue hole of water, freezing cold. Please come go with me,’ he said and I told him I would one evening.

Sunday evening after church, my wife, daughter, granddaughter and I decided to go to the creek. My son and some of his friends were already there. We followed the oil well roads to where we found their trucks and got out and walked into the woods. I thought I knew every foot of that old creek, but I was in an area I had never seen before. It was as if God Himself had hid it. It reminded me of stories I had seen on television of the Amazon forest. There were huge trees, limbs and leaves nearly blocking the sun out and smaller vegetation everywhere. You had to pick your way through. We could hear the boys laughing and talking and that’s the only way we knew how to get there.

As we walked further into the woods I had another thought—this is probably what it looked like generations ago. My great, great grandfather may have hunted or fished, or even the Indians could have camped or hunted in this area. Who knows. Even the Creator Himself may have visited the area from time to time for a cold drink of water.

We finally made it to the swim hole and my son was right. It was clear and blue and I thought I saw a little ice forming on the side of the bluff. All the boys were hollering, ‘Hop on in, it’s not cold, it’s just right.’ Hearing the boys say that reminded me of my daddy saying that years ago when I was their age going in the creek.

I knew the water was cold and the only way I could go in was to jump in and stay in like I did many years ago. I thought about it, and thought about it, and said it’s now or never, and I dove in.

I wished I knew how to explain the feeling I experienced as I hit the water. I swam about 20 feet under water and when I surfaced, with water in my eyes and ears, for about five seconds I could see and hear the ones of years ago all gathered around the old swim hole behind the preacher’s house. How great was that.

I know how my son and his friends feel about a good swim hole. It’s as if they found a gold mine. They can’t get enough of it even though it belongs to someone else. I told them take care of it, respect it and always be careful.

This is one thing that these young men will never forget the rest of their lives—what they found that summer of 2015, their Eldorado on upper Whitesand Creek hidden deep in the Amazon-like forest.

I would like to thank the landowners for letting my son and his friends be able to experience a time in their lives that I know they will never forget.”