Learning to swim

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Who out there learned to swim in the creek, farm pond or river during your romping and climbing the hillside days?

Most of my generation did because mud holes were too shallow and it was the way things were done before giveaways destroyed a way of life.

We improvised or did the best we could do. It was the choice with no options.

Either you learned it or you didn’t. Most passed the class.

Swimming was important, and so important to me that my older brother with a hidden smirking did the teaching. He threw me in the river.

It was my first and last class.

That morning I could not swim. That afternoon I was paddling threw the water like a champ.

The only concern then was keeping a watchful eye out for snakes.

They liked to frolic around in the cool waters, too.

I quickly learned after he threw me in and I dropped like a slab of concrete to the bottom that with some fancy footwork I could shoot back up to survival.

It was a nice and sandy bottom, but the wrong place for me to hang out. When I reached the surface and air, I never looked back.

Ironically, more than 50 years later I buried the remains of my brother in those same waters and at the very same spot.

It was what he had requested.

Quite a few years later, it is easy now to recall the details of the day I learned to swim.

It was tough growing up with an older brother. He was five years older than I.

When I was five, he was 10, and our interests were planets apart. It got worse when I was 10.

From then on it was years of disagreement and even a few physical confrontations.

Finally, we aged and became good friends and brothers.

It is a much better growing up arrangement if brothers are closer in years.

But things always work out for the best. I may never have learned to swim at an early age if my brother and I had been closer in age.

There were also four sisters in my family, all older except one.

That meant, as a boy, I could actually learn nothing a growing boy needed from them.

Girls were just in the way when I was growing up.

But one day something exploded, and all of a sudden girls were the most important thing a boy could learn about.

Thing is, men have been trying to learn and understand women since both set foot on this earth.

It sure was fun trying, wasn’t it?

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at wnh9326@gmail.com.

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