Gut Rumbles

December 15, 2003

pole vaulting

When I was a kid, one of the things my friends and I liked to do was pole-vault across the big drainage ditch at the end of the road. We trapped crawfish and gigged bullfrogs down there and vaulting from one side of the bank to the other was a nice trick, performed using your 10-foot gig-pole.

We all became very good at vaulting across the ditch, so we looked for greater challenges. I found one.

We were deep in the woods, almost all the way to the Gun Club Lake when I saw a spot in the canal that never had been vaulted. It was wide and steep, but I thought I could make it. I took a shot at it and barely cleared the opposite bank. Finn Moffett came right after me, and he made it, too. Art Salter went next and we had to grab him to keep his ass out of the canal. He almost didn't make it.

Michael Moffett tried, too. Michael was Finn's younger brother and he was afraid of nothing. He'd try anything once. He probably weighed about 60 pounds at the time and when he took a good run-and-go to vault the canal, his pole stuck in the mud and he didn't have enough ass to push it to the other side. He ended up hanging onto his pole, which stood straight up, stuck in the mud, as he found himself marooned in the middle of the canal.

"Help!" he yelled.

"Mike! Just start rocking the pole. If you can make it lean this way, we'll grab you!" I suggested. Finn, Art and I lined up on the bank to grab him.

Michael started rocking the pole. He was doing good at first, but the more he rocked, the deeper the pole went into the mud and the lower his hands slipped on the pole. When his feet were touching the water and the pole was stuck as if a pile-driver had laid it in there, he said, "I don't think I'm gonna make it."

"You can make it! Keep trying!" we yelled from the bank.

We watched as the inevitable happened. Michael couldn't rock the pole anymore. He couldn't hold on anymore. He was ankle-deep in the canal and fading fast. This happened in January on a very cold day. Ice was floating on the water when we first arrived that morning. You really didn't want to end up in that water.

But Michael did. He turned loose of the pole and fell flat on his back into the canal. We stuck a pole out for him to latch onto so that we could drag him out, but the damage was done. He was as wet as a drowned duck and shaking from the cold. "We need to get you back home," I said.

"He can't go home like that," Finn replied. "Mama will kill both of us. We're not supposed to be playing in the canal." I understood where Finn was coming from. I wasn't supposed to be playing there either. I could see a disaster in the making. If we took Michael home, his mama would kill both of her sons, then call MY mama, and my mama would kill ME.

Nope. We couldn't allow that scenario to occur. That one was way too unpleasant for everyone involved. "Just stay here," I said. "I'll be right back."

I vaulted back across the canal, hopped on my bicycle and rode home. I sneaked in the back door and stole a book of matches from my parents's cigarette drawer. Then, I headed right back to the woods and we built a fire to dry Michael out. That process took several hours and a lot of pine straw and wood, but we got the job done. He was okay before the sun went down.

"Walk down to the drainpipe and cross the canal there," I said, when I figured that Michael was fit to return home. "I'll get your gig for you, but you're not jumping this canal again. And don't tell ANYBODY about what happened today."

He never did, we got away with it, and now I am the one letting that cat out of the bag 30 years later.


Uh, 30 years later? Your momma was beating you when you were in your 20's?

Posted by: jpd on December 15, 2003 02:19 PM

...and ice floating in the canal...
In northern Ohio the ice would either be thin or thick but always over the whole body of water unless there were big waves to break it up. I only ever saw this on Lake Erie. Does it ever get that cold in Ga (or Ky. for that matter)? I'm calling bs on this post (respectfully).

Posted by: Thom on December 15, 2003 03:02 PM

No canals that I know of in Kentucky. I'm thinking this one is a poseur. It's a good story, tho. "...his mama would kill both of her sons, then call MY mama..." is just funny, for some reason.

Posted by: Stoney on December 15, 2003 04:28 PM

Whenever my brothers and I and my mama manage to get together (we all live in 4 different states) and start reminiscin', my mama finds out MORE stuff that we did that she hadn't any idea about. She's still pretty sturdy....gotta wait for osteoporosis to kick in good before she finds out the rest.

I reckon it'll be at least another 40 years before I find out the crap my kids have done.

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 15, 2003 05:09 PM

I wrote that post, and it's a true story, but it happened more like 40 years ago. I hate to deal with father time.

Posted by: Acidman on December 15, 2003 07:02 PM

Swampwoman, I enjoy your posts as much as I enjoy Acidman's entries.

Unfortunately, my two younger sisters have a a better memory (?) than I have of my early transgressions. And of course, they tell all in front of my mother and my beloved nieces and nephews. Heh, I'm suppose to be their beloved, spoiling them crazy Aunt Annie, not an example of what else they can get into!

I really think my two younger sisters have very vivid imaginations! They have no sense of responsibility telling their own children what their Aunt Annie did when she was their age!

Posted by: Ms Anna on December 16, 2003 12:59 AM

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