The Swimming Hole – The Watering Hole
By JoCheryl Holcomb
From Columnist Ken Leonard: My dear friend, JoCheryl Holcomb lost eight family members in the Sutherland Springs Shooting and is working on a book about her journey of loss and healing. This weekend she posted this wonderful memory from our Childhood with her brother, Bryan and my cousin, Donna. She gave me permission to share it. Her dad, Joe was and is a terrific dad, who knew how to let kids be kids.
When Bryan and I were little, we lived our adventures and day dreams in a vacant lot behind our home we called “the snake patch” (because one time we thought we saw a grass snake there). It was fertile ground for everything we could imagine. The family garden was there, the swing set, the treehouse, the intriguing storage shed full of whatever we could only imagine, as we were not allowed to venture in…
One of the most gleeful things that happened in our life was visits from the cousins; and on this particular visit, it was Philip and Curtis, though more cousins came along in time. I was blessed to get to have so many boys who played in much more exciting ways than most girls. (Georgie, I do believe you may have been part of this adventure.)
…Sooo… in that glee, there was always some boyish adventure that involved digging, water construction, and/or fort building. Usually, the structures had tunnels under the fort and we filled them with water and swam through them. By the time we added our imagination to them, they were intricate labyrinths of excitement and adventure!
This one particular visit from the cousins inspired us to fulfill our dreams of a HUGE swimming pool, so we began our excavation. It was planned to manifest at the ideal location for swinging high, then jumping from the swing into the water, and as the hole got deep enough for a plunge, it also got bigger (and it was BIG!) the swing set was soon an integral part of the complex…and as the size grew, the excitement also grew and we were soon joined by our adventure-loving neighbor friends, Ken Leonard and Donna Vick. The hole was getting bigger and deeper and being from Texas, we knew how to pile the dirt up around the sides, so that the hole could hold even more water with less digging. It’s a Texas “thang.”
It wasn’t long until my Dad saw what we were doing and was so impressed with our digging that he got out the garden tiller. We had reached clay and digging was hard, so he would loosen a layer and we would shovel it out; loosen and shovel, loosen and shovel; and the dreams of water adventures got grander and grander in our little child hearts!
Finally, the hole was big enough and we began to remove the stones and twigs and smooth over the bottom. Then someone wished it was plastic so it wouldn’t be muddy when we added water. That was all it took for my dad to head to the lumber yard and buy yards and yards of construction plastic with which to line our hole. We got even more meticulous about removing rocks, sticks and sticker burrs, and then the plastic was rolled out.
The water hoses were hooked together, I recall, from both our house and Grandmother’s house next door, so they would reach the snake patch and fill faster, and then the filling began!
Though the digging took a long time, the filling was an eternity. We could hardly wait to jump from the swing into the inviting waters; and finally, we did! That evening was a frolic into the dark and we were all sore, tired, but ecstatically exhausted little prunes, who still didn’t want to go to bed. And if, it was a typical cousin/neighbor adventure night, it was very likely that we did sleep in the backyard in appliance boxes from Hoelscher’s furniture store, as that happened frequently.
The next morning after probably no one slept, because of the thoughts of our swing/jump/swim swirled all night, we rushed back to the snake patch as morning dawned to find: grateful ponies? To us, it was a swimming hole…to them it was a watering hole! And, they had spent the moonlit hours walking through and standing in the water, drinking…all the plastic pierced by hoofs and the hoofs had mixed the clay with the water and our pool was gooshy mud.
My dad, Joe Holcombe, always says two words that will serve you in life are, “Oh, well!” And so the swimming adventures changed to gooshy mud adventures… Oh, well!