True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 216
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216 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
"Stockbridges," down at the foot of Texas Avenue. This was a
famous place. The water at no point was more than four feet
deep, while the bottom was pure white sand. It was a great
watering place for draymen and teamsters and was also used
as a ford for teams to cross from one side of the bayou to the
other. As a rule, only the little boys used Stockbridges, for it
was considered beneath the dignity of a boy who could swim
to go in there. It was a kind of kindergarten swimming hole.
About two blocks below Stockbridges, near the foot of Prairie
Avenue, was "Evans hole." There were large trees on each
side of the bayou, which cast a good shade over the water, thus
making it a delightful place at all hours of the day. "Evans
hole" had a hard, sandy bottom, was free from snags and, while
quite deep in the middle, was shallow on each side. Further
down the bayou, at the foot of Smith Street, was "The Sycamores."
This was a very deep hole, having a large sycamore
tree leaning far over it, from which the boys were accustomed
to dive. Being so deep, with steep banks and no shallow water,
"The Sycamores" was used only by the boys who, I may say,
were in the junior class of swimmers. I have seen some fine
fights and funny things down at "The Sycamores," but one that,
while funny enough, came near ending disastrously, I will never
forget. Jim Blake, afterward Dr. James Blake, who died a few
years ago, came down to the swimming hole one afternoon,
bringing two immense Mexican gourds. Each was corked tightly
and had a piece of rope tied round its middle. When asked
what he was going to do, Jim informed us that he was going to
show us how to walk on water. He pulled off his clothes and was
ready for action, for bathing suits were unknown at that time.
He carefully tied the gourds, one to each ankle, and without the
slightest hesitation crawled out on the sycamore overhanging
the water and let himself down. He had a good start, all right,
for the distance was just sufficient to submerge the gourds so
they would bear his weight.
We looked on admiringly and then Jim turned loose his hold
on the tree. There was a terrible splash and Jim's head and
body disappeared but his feet remained in sight. You should
have seen how those gourds whirled and moved about. We were
all so scared we did not know what to do. In the struggles
to get his head where his feet were Jim drifted out toward the
middle of the bayou. So far as we were concerned Jim would
have drowned right there had he not managed to catch hold
of one of the ropes up by the side of his feet. He coughed,
spluttered and threw up water like a walrus, but he kept his
head above water and began abusing us for not helping him.
Seeing that he was safe and in no immediate danger of drowning
the boys returned his abuse with interest and guyed him about
walking on water, calling on him to walk out. Finally one of
the big boys swam out and towed him to shore. He was mad
with himself and mad with us too and his temper was not cooled
the least bit when after getting rid of his gourds he started to
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/216/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .