For the most part I usually go swimming in my clothes. At the family reunion on the river, I would run straight from the car and dive off the pier fully clothed. It might seem a little odd, but quite tame compared to my Dad’s philosophy. He would shake his head and say, “That’s crazy, swimming in their clothes like that Sonja.”
“They need to be modest Perry.” Mom would reply, she was big on being modest. “What do you want them to swim in then?”
“We always went swimming in the water.” Dad would say with a grin. It wasn’t a helpful suggestion, but it was the truth.
Dad grew up with a younger brother and slew of cousins. They were notorious for skinny dipping in Hurricane Creek, a creek behind my grandmother’s house. He took me back there once to show me. It was a glorified swamp. I’d be in a bind before I had to go swimming in that snake pit, especially naked. When you use the word “naked” in Genesis your mind wants to pronounce it “Nay-ked”. It makes the word seem like not a bad thing. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed Genesis 2:25. Anytime you read the word after man was kicked out of the garden, you have to pronounce it, “Neckid”, which lets you know that there is shame involved. And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Genesis 3:10.
There was still a moderate amount of shame involved in my Dad’s generation of nude bathers. I remember hearing a story of when the gang were all swimming in their “natural” way, when a family on a picnic discovered them in the creek. One of the cousins climbed out of the creek and began to put his clothes on not many yards from the people.
“What in the world are you doing?” They all cried to him.
“I ain’t going to let these people to see me naked.” He replied.
After a few instances like this, they had to search for a new swimming hole.
Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. Proverbs 9:17
Even the Bible implies that there is a thrill in doing something that you’re not supposed to do. Dad would recount, “Whenever we saw a sign that said keep out, or do not climb, we interpreted that as, ‘Climb Please’.” It was in this manner that they happened upon the water tower. They climbed it and to their surprise, the latch at the top was unlocked.
“It was dark in there.” Dad used to say. “That first jump in always took a little courage because not only was it dark, you never knew what the water level was going to be.”
It worked great as a swimming hole until Dad, being a concerned citizen mentioned to Uncle Johnny, who worked on the water board, that the water level seemed unusually low in the water tower.
“How in the world do you know that?” Uncle Johnny asked, a bit surprised.
“We went swimming in there last week and the water level was fine. Yesterday the water was real low.”
“What are you boys doing swimming in the water tower? Y’all can’t do that!”
“It’s fine Uncle Johnny, they purify that water before it goes out.”
“Naw! That water goes straight to your momma’s sink. Y’all better net get in there again.”
The next time they tried to go swimming there was a lock on the lid. I guess nothing gold can stay. They had to go back to swimming in creeks, lakes, and rivers. This is where I’ve done most of my swimming too. I was always to chicken to finish climbing the water tower to see if the lid was open. Still, whenever I pass a water tower during the summer I always wonder if there is a gang of cousins in there skinny dipping.
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