Editorıs note: As I read through the collection of stories we have from this project, I could relate to this one particularly. I was working in our non-air conditioned office, blessedly relieved by a fan, while the outside temperature soared beyond ninety-five degrees and not a swimmin' hole near.
The Old Swimmin' Hole
By Roxie Olmstead Augusta, Kansas
The time I had an old swimmin' hole was in the early 1930's. I lived at Magna City, a remnant of an oil field boom-town, located nine miles east of Douglass, Kansas in Butler County. The swimmin' hole was located at Cedar Ford 2 1/2 miles south of Magna City. Cedar Ford forded Rock Creek. You won't find Cedar Ford or Magna City on todayıs maps. Magna City was on road maps until the 1960's, but I doubt if Cedar Ford was shown on maps after the 1800's. Cedar Ford had a post office in the late 1800ıs.
Rev. Dixon of the Pentecostal Church held a series of meetings in August 1922 at Wells Chapel in Magna City and had baptismal services in Rock Creek at Cedar Ford. My mother, Elizabeth Frans, was baptized at Cedar Ford before I was born.
Cedar Ford was a popular recreational area when I was a child. East of the main bridge, which crosses Rock Creek, was flat, graveled ground bordering the north creek bank. It was an ideal place to build a fire for a wiener roast or have a picnic. The creek was shallow near the bridge and gradually deepened toward the east. The deep part made it an ideal swimmin' hole early in the summer when the creek was still running from spring rains. I can vividly remember how cool the water felt in the dry "thirties" when there was no other relief from the intense heat. Magna City did not have electricity, so we had no fans.
We went barefoot in the summer in those days and the rocks were hard on our feet where we walked to enter the creek and for a short space after we got in the creek. As we neared the swimmin' hole, the jagged rocks changed to large, smooth rocks and felt good on our feet.
We didn't own swim suits, so Mother would tell us to get some soiled play clothes out of the laundry-to-be when we went swimming.
I learned to swim in this swimmin' hole and I remember spending about as much time swimming under water as on top. I went swimming with my sisters and neighbors.
When I tired of swimming I would go sit in the shallow water. The water was clear enough to see through and I would build rooms with rocks and catch crawdads to fill the rooms.
I don't remember it, but my sister Dorothy remembers leeches as being a problem and pulling them off her feet.
I moved away for forty years and when I moved back I visited the site. It was such a disappointment! The picnic area I remembered had grown up in weeds and it was no longer the beautiful place I remembered. The ford was especially beautiful in the fall when the tree leaves turned autumn colors.