Uncle Frank and his family came from North Carolina to visit for a couple of weeks every summer. There were five cousins--four girls and one boy, Dink. That wasn't his real name, but that's what we all called him. I always thought it a funny name. I still don't know how he came to be called Dink.
For a little girl confined to
life on the farm, these cousins were kind of like celebrities. They were all older and got to do lots of cool stuff. Dink, well he was the only boy. I always thought of him as our protector. The girls had their hair cut at a salon rather than by Aunt Peggy and they sported new bikinis every year complete with tan lines and attitudes.
One fourth of July other cousins from central and south Alabama came in, too. After the potato harvest we packed the trunks of the cars with lawn chairs, blankets, towels, coolers of food & beverage, floats, water skis and other stuffs and headed to the river for the day.
All us younger kids were splashing around close to the banks where the grown-ups were grilling and preparing the picnic feast. The older cousins, Uncle Frank and other grown-ups were way, way out in the river, underneath the big bridge.
Getting out of the river to get some lemonade--which Mamaw was serving with a ladle from a huge plastic garbage can--I noticed one of my sisters way down the river bank, wading through the water towards the big bridge. She later came to me saying she had been out where Uncle Frank was and he wanted to see me. I was flattered that Uncle Frank wanted to see little ole me. I was all but five years old.
I turned and started walking right out into that river towards Uncle Frank. A few steps out and down I went--a drop-off. I don't remember much, feeling suspended in the water, I saw the sun's ray streaming in from above and little brown floaty-things in that sunlit path. I woke in Daddy's arms in one of those lawn chairs on the shore. We weren't allowed to go to the river much after that.
Those cousins loved the water and wanted to go swimming everyday. If we couldn't go to the river we would wind up at the pond in the cow pasture across the east cotton field. My sisters and I didn't know how to swim and no matter how many times he had been told before, Dink would once again get the Papaw/Daddy-lecture about being responsible for the girls.
Dink stayed in the water a lot, below the surface a lot. He'd jump in, disappear and pop up on the other end of the pond. Sometimes I got scared, thinking he wasn't going to come back up. I think sometimes he stayed under longer just to scare us. There was a hole in the middle of that pond that went all the way to China! Dink even said the best of swimmers would get sucked through to China if they went too deep. I never did go all the way to the middle of that pond.