It was summer of 1944 and I was at the river swimming. I was eight.
At the end of the road that curves to the right where it gets to the river, there is a large pipe that dumps water from an underground canal into the river. For a while, after water had been running into the river dredging out a hole in the river bottom, I could shallow dive or jump from the end of the pipe into that hole in the bottom of the river. It was great, as was anything that had to do with my friend, the River.
It was just one of a hundred wonderful places about which I knew in the river.
As great as my friend, the River was, sometimes people weren't too good to it. This day was one of those times.
I jumped into the water at the end of the pipe and headed downstream, moving along in the shallow water on my hands and knees. (In parts of the river where the water is shallow, I moved along in a crawling position to keep my body completely under the water and out of the direct sunlight..-this is one of those places)
I had swam and played here many times, usually alone so's not to be distracted by the presence of another person. I usually had some adventurous plan to execute that couldn't involve anyone else. This time was no exception.
Anyhow, as I swam/crawled along on the bottom just downstream from the pipe, I suddenly felt a sharp stinging in my right knee. I quickly pulled my knee up from the sandy bottom and saw the water turn red.
"That's odd," I thought. Then a light came on in my young and fertile mind and I realized it was blood and it was coming from my knee, a result of the cause of the stinging sensation I had just felt.
"I'll be damned," I said aloud, (I cussed a lot as a youth,-but, as in the immortal words of William Muny, "I ain't Like that no more...") "Something must have cut my knee!"
Oddly, at that point, my first thought was to find the offending object so I started a slow crawl back the way I had come, carefully searching the bottom for that instrument of the offense. After a few feet, one of my hands (the right one, I think) felt a sharp object protruding up from the sandy river bed. Then (with both hands) I carefully tugged it until it gave up it's grip on the planet. It was a shard from a beer bottle that had been broken by some imbiber and tossed into my friend. That really pissed me off, the realization that someone had offended the river in this way so I cussed again. (I think I said, 'shit', my then favorite cuss word)
I took the shard and climbed up the bank to dry land to examine my wound. The blood was still gushing from my knee. I looked it over carefully. It was a pretty impressive gash, not quite to the bone, but about two inches long. (I still have the scar)
You wanna hear something weird? The first thing I remember thinking about the gash was: At least the alchol from the beer will kill the germs! --- Go figure a young, still forming mind!
Well, the upshot of this tale is: I held a piece of paper I had found on the ground against my knee and, taking the shard along as evidence, walked briskly the quarter mile to my house where my Mother was, as always, waiting to attend to me. (or anyone else who needed to be attended to)
And Mother, like a mother should, fixed the gash in my knee by pressing a rag against it until it stopped bleeding, cleaned it gently with a clean rag, spread it open and, completely dis-regarding my screams of impending pain from the application of it, poured it full of Merthiolate, a fire-red medicine obviously made from crushed and juiced hot cayenne and chili peppers and the fire from an acetylene torch.
As the Merthiolate did it's job, ( generating so much burning pain that one forgets about the almost non-existing twinge from the actual wound ) I did my screaming until my Mother, in her infinite wisdom, informed me that, if I really wanted to scream, she would be more than happy to give me something to scream about. (That usually referred to a sharp slap in the mouth)
Then, using the considerable skills she had developed through the years of helping others in need of medical assistance, she pushed the sides of the gash together and wrapped a clean rag around it several times(it seems we always had plenty of clean rags around for emergencies) and pulled it tight enough to keep the gash closed. She told me to not bend my knee for a while, at least until the now only slight bleeding stopped completely and it would be all right. And once again, as she had done a trillion times, she ordered me to not go to 'that river' anymore.
Without question, I obeyed her about not bending my knee and she was right.(She was always right about everything except my friend, the River) The gash did heal with only a remnant of it left, a beautiful scar that I carried with honor and proudly exhibited to my friends for years! It was Great!
I think about my friend, the River, a lot and I think about my Mother a lot. Maybe, when I die, I'll have my ashes dumped into the river and then I'll be with both of them in the here and in the hereafter. Now that's really something to look forward to!