My First Swimming Lesson

Back in the “old days”, 1956 probably, we were all down at the river. We called it the river, even though it was a lake. That being Lake Travis at Smithwick. I would have been no more than 4 years old.

At this time Uncle Owen Lewis had acquired several Lone Star Aluminum Fishing Boats that he rented out. That was a common thing to do in that day. There was a huge pecan tree that grew close to the river bank on Shop Branch in the big U curve just before the creek met the lake. That tree had cables around it where the rental boats would be lashed off to keep them from floating away.

On the other side of the tree was a big rope that people would swing out on and drop off into the water.

This one weekend afternoon with a whole bunch of the Lewis family there enjoying the summer weather, I kept wanting to swing on the rope. Now I don’t remember this, I only remember being told about it. Suddenly Nelson Lewis reached down and swept me up under one arm and grabbed the the rope with the other and away we went.

When we got to the end, he let go of me and I plunged into the water and he returned to the creek bank and dropped off. They say my mother almost had a fit as I was just bobbing up and down in the middle of the creek. Calmly, Nelson dived in swam out and got me and brought me over to my mother’s waiting arms, all as if he had been giving me a normal swimming lesson.

No, of course I didn’t have a life jacket on. I don’t think I ever put a life jacket on before I was grown.

I’m surprised Bonnie Gay, my mother, didn’t shoot him. I guess it was just exciting for a few minutes.

These were the type of boats they were.

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