The Day Travis About Died, Kinda

Another Recollection from One Summer Vacation

By: Anthony AJ Jackson

      Again, I do not recall what year this particular summer vacation took place. I do, however, remember the day very vividly. Bobby Lee, Travis, Tory, mom, Terry, and I all went down to the creek that ran across Terry’s property outside of McEwan, Tennessee. This day we did have a picnic and get to swim. Refer to another of my Life-Experiences called

The Summer Swim that Never Was


      We crossed the vast field where Terry’s horses roamed fairly unabated, and as we rushed down waterside, we were halted with a warning. Terry told us that he had not been down here swimming since last summer, and that a relative of his almost drown when he had gone over the edge of a small waterfall just ahead. Terry told us that it was over our heads and the brisk flow of the water would hold us under if we were to go over the edge of the fall. So, armed with this knowledge, we made a point of it to play plenty far enough up stream that it would not be an issue.

      Upstream the creek narrowed and had a solid stone bottom which was slick and slimy. Travis, Bobby, and Tory accompanied me in taking advantage of the slickness. We would wade out to the middle, steading ourselves against the current until we could no longer fight it. The current would pull us downstream as we stood up in the waist-deep water. When the ride had subsided a bit we would ease ourselves over to the edge. Always me made sure not to get to close to the fall downstream. Mom and Terry were cooking closer to the deeper waters downstream. We lost interest in our little slides for a bit, and we went exploring.

      We hiked upstream yet further, fighting the current at time and taking to land when it was too strong to fight, until we passed under a bridge. It wasn’t long after that when we arrived at the mouth of a narrow cave, which was feeding the stream with the icy cold spring water. At its mouth the water merely trinkled along from the cave, but still, we could not muster the courage to venture inside the cave further than a few feet. Alas, we turned back and enjoyed the easy ride back downstream complements of the swift waters.

      The point came where we all haulted ourselves and played once more where we had been. We would take turns riding downstream. One time when Travis was floating down on his butt, the water wouldn’t let him return to the bank downsteam. I rushed out of the water, ran along the bank, and entered the waters once again further downstream to try and intercept him before he could go over the edge. The persistent flow of the years had left bare the root systems of countless nearby trees, and I held tight to the more sturdy of these and flung my body out into Travis’s path. He missed my foot by mere inches and went kicking and screaming over the fall’s edge.

      Things moved in slow motion and I ceased to hear as vividly as I watched him rolled over the rocky edge. Under he went, and just as abruptly he returned to the surface. He was yelling, “I’m drownin’!” over and over. He really thought he was. His eyes were closed as he flailed with his feet firmly on the creek bottom. A breath or two later he realized he had terra firma under him, and the water was only waist deep. It was also about then that he heard all of us laughing hysterically.

      Our laughter enraged him to the point that he refused to talk to anyone for the rest of the afternoon, save me couple of times. I guess he excused my few snickers because I had made every attempt to keep him from, what we all assumed at the time, certain death. It was then explained to us that large amounts of sediment must have been pushed downstream and deposited at the foot of the fall, making it much more shallow.

      To this day, a telling of that story erects an air of self-defense in Travis. As with most memorable events, it was not humorous then, but in retrospect, I find it funnier each time the story is told.... Sorry Travis.