The swimming holes of Clinton and Curry's Lake

I am really uncertain that I remember a summer as hot as the summer of 2016. I do remember some hot days under the oak trees there at the back of our house on Gordon Street, Clinton Mills, USA. I doubt there was even one of these days, our minds that swimming did mot cross our minds. When I say our minds I am talking about myself, my brother Charles. Melvin Whelchel, Herbert Fallaw and his brother Tot, Jimmy and Junior Abbot along with others. We thought about it but the YMCA was unheard of and if it had been I am certain we would have not been members there. There was a desire to cool off so we took to whatever body of water that might be available. The nearest water was a brook or branch that began at the corner of Gordon and Jefferson Streets. Except when there was a downpour of rain this branch was mostly stagnant. By stagnant I mean it was slow moving and often had a filmy scum on top. It was at no place any more than knee deep until it passed that place which is so dear to my childhood memory, Puckett’s Spring. On the matter of depth of the water, it was gauged by boys’ anatomy. Ankle deep, knee deep and so on up. If you have ever been a little boy, you understand exactly what I am talking about. This branch was a large part of our recreational area on those summer days. My uncle had a car and from time to time would carry some young folks to Enoree River for a swim. My uncle was a widower whose wife died in childbirth or of flu in the great epidemic. My brother, Charles, and I never got to go on these trips although our oldest brother, James, did. Aside from the little branch and Duncan Creek and Enoree River there was the swimming pool in the gymnasium at Presbyterian College and Curry’s Lake. I think my friends and I understood that as far as Mill Hill Boys were concerned, the swimming pool in the gymnasium at Presbyterian College might have as well been on the Planet Mars. Now Curry’s lake was another matter. It was located a couple of miles left of the highway which goes through Gray Court and Fountain and on to Greenville. My first trip there was on an old school bus. I paid 50 cents for the transportation. Curry’s Lake was almost a magical place. In addition to the lake they had a bowling alley with small balls and small pins. Duck Pins I think they are called. There were some other attractions including a place for dancing. The lake itself was small. Judging by the size of houses here where I live it could have been five or six thousand square feet in area. On a busy Sunday afternoon I doubt these was a place that you could stand in the water and not touch another swimmer. The water was greenish opaque and I suspect it contained between two and five percent human urine. There were a couple of diving boards and a really nice sliding board. Admittance to swim there was something like 25 cents and if you happened to forget your swimsuit, bathing suit as we called them then, no need to worry. You could rent a swim suit. Men’s or women’s. Swimsuits were mostly of woolen material. And there were always suits to rent, that is if you didn’t mind putting on a wet one. The thought of wet swimsuits occurred to me several weeks ago as I stood saying goodbye to some dear friends. We give and receive hugs when we do our goodbyes there even if at least one of the pretty ladies is in a wet bathing suit. (Bobby Meadors is retired unit administrator at the Clinton armory of the SC National Guard. He lives in Clinton.)

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