The Cold Hole is gone.
I decided yesterday afternoon to make a quick loop through Old Dallas before I had some company show up at the cabin for a cookout. I pulled out of Tula and took a left off of Highway 331 to County Road 444, which has always been known as Old Union Road to me. This way leads me down and around to Old Dallas where I like to circle around and get back to 331 and Tula. This ride is peaceful and joyful.
I crank my radio up and let its sound and smoke from my cigarettes dance out my windows. White asphalt roads are shaded with thick green hollows ridged from different sides of the road. If it’s night time, it gets so dark at certain points that your headlights look like they are in a tunnel. You’ll see soybean fields plowed and planted and a few cattle pastures where the road opens up a few spots letting light guide your eyes. When you get deep into the county on this ride you will also find a few of the only gravel roads left around. I miss gravel roads.
On my ride I pulled over on the side of the road to check out what the Cold Hole looks like now. I discovered where we used to jump from the edge of the road into the creek has been filled with an extra culvert and field dirt. There is only a tiny spot left from the larger area it use to have. There is no way to swim in it anymore. There is not enough water for the fun we use to have. I’m missing the Cold Hole now.
The Cold Hole was a creek bottom fed by a spring. The natural feeding of the spring caused the pool’s temperature to be lower than most creeks or ponds. It’d get so cold sometimes on summer days that as soon as you jumped in you would swim swiftly to its banks to get out. I’ve watched two youth ministers from my church shiver in its water in December on a friendly attempt to see who could outlast each other. The spot I’m telling you about was shaped in a big circle. It laid below the road and a culvert with a ten foot drop. From the moment your feet hit water to the bottom of its surface was well over ten feet. You usually never hit bottom. The covered hole from tall trees kept a shade on it all day. Sunlight couldn’t warm it or us from the cast of leaves and brush that surrounded it. We didn’t need swimming pools or water parks. We had our own secret spot and fun. I sure do miss those days.
I started swimming in the Cold Hole when I was probably ten or eleven years old. I swam it as a young man during and after college too. I’d swim it with many friends and cousins. My sister and brother have swum it with me too.
I showed Billy Ray this picture and he said “Damn, the Cold Hole is gone?”
I shook my head and walked off. We actually talked our Dad into swimming it one hot July weekend. We burst with laughter when his skinny legs ran across the road to jump into its depths. As he came to the top, from being under water, he squealed from the harshness of the frigid water and we laughed even louder.
I remember having a rope swing tied to the top of a tree. We raised a friend so high in the air one day he was above our heads. Before letting loose of him to swing across the road into the pool he grabbed the wrong part of the rope. His judgement of grabbing the lower part of the rope led us to picking rocks out of his back after he was dragged across the road. He didn’t swim anymore that day.
I’ve taken forty fraternity pledges out there a time or two. They dropped tailgates and scattered trucks and beer cans throughout the small county road. Radios were turned up loud and joy was made from that brown cold water. We made our own kind of party that day. It lasted a while.
I hate that the Cold Hole is gone. But I understand that things change. I sure wish I could have watched my kids and nephews and nieces fly through the air with smiles. I’d like to sit on a tailgate with the radio blaring on a July’s Saturday and watch their breath be taken away from a chilling splash. We’d watch them swim up to the bank fast and climb up the banks faster to do it all over again. Kids would laugh and play with memories being made. A Dad or two, with maybe a Mom, would be cool and jump in with them. Their attempt at being young again would make everyone pay attention. The sun would fall west of the tree tops that cover the soybean fields besides us and darkness would tell us to go home. Trucks would crank up and leave and to be back soon again.
Damn, the Cold Hole is gone?
Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University and works as a salesman for Best Chance. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.