Rockport Railroad Bridge-2005.
Alternate Pictures of Left and Right Bank..
Sorry, but some of you will only see one
picture-Using VBScripting.
View is looking downriver.
MIDI file is "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley".

Stationery by jrd with countless help from others.
 
Throwing Green River Mud..

Greetings all and hope your little corner of the world is to your liking. At this moment, we have the ground covered with snow. The trees are drooping, due to the snowfall, and we have a few inches of snow on the ground. From my view, I think that the roads are a slick mess. The main highway may be clear, but our road is not seeing any traffic.

Some of you will not be able to view this "Stat" in its' entirety, due to my use of VBScripting. I had to use VBS to get the two pictures to alternate. Hope you can see the "Rockport Side" of the river as the area above and below the pier will be the focal point of this story. The "Text Box" has a "River Effect" for the background. The main background should also scroll. All three of these parameters use VBScripting. Should not have used this type, but have run out of pictures and stats for this last of the "River Tales".

At the "Subject" indicates, this stat will be about throwing mud. Guess that anyone can throw mud, as all you need is the mud/dirt and just pick it up and give it a toss. This "Green River Mud" is somewhat different. I am talking about throwing "Mud" some three hundred feet or so. Yes, special mud, I guess. Let me explain.

Several years ago, and again in the late forties and early fifties, the river was somewhat different than it is today. The new dams, upriver, and on the Green, Nolin, Barren and Rough Rivers have, forever, changed the characteristics of the "Lower Green River". For better or worse, I don't know. Guess that it would have to be better, as the annual "Flooding" has practically been eliminated. This flooding helped create this special "Mud" that can be thrown for a hundred yards. I read an article some time back, where this small community in Maryland (Don't hold me to this location) had a special "Mud" that was used to "Rub" on all baseballs that are used in the major leagues. This "Secret" location was know only to a few and this small company dug up this mud, and at a nice profit, supplied the Major League Baseball Teams a "Mud" that would improve the baseball's characteristics. Now, I am sure, at one time, the "Green River Mud" would have provided some special purpose. It may still fit that category.

Some fifty or so years ago, there were several "Floods" that would occur annually on the Green River. Some were devastating, while others were just an inconvenience. Most of these "Flood Waters" would get out of the river banks and stay at "Flood Stage" for weeks on end. The erosion that "Rain Waters" created deposited silt and such in the flood water. The normal, somewhat clear, and green water of the river would now be a Chocolate Brown. As the "Flood Water" peaked, the current would lessen, and a "Slow Fall" would allow the muddy water to settle out and a deposit of silt/mud would be on top of the normal river bank. This silt would also be deposited on the "River Bottoms" farm land and created a fertile soil for a better crop.

Enter the next stage and conditions have changed. When the river returned to a normal stage, a messy condition existed. Now, the river banks are a mess. The layer of newly deposited silt is on top of the clay soil that made up the river banks. It is such a mess that the "River Users" could not get to the river. Depending on how severe the "Flood Waters" were, determined how deep of a deposit the muddy silt produced. A longer period of time, that the river took to return to normal, would produce more silt and thus, more of a mess. I have know of a flood or two that produced a few inches or more of silt. The swimmers and fishermen would just have to wait until the mud dried. All of the "River Users", at one time of the other, have rushed this period of transformation and have sunk "Knee Deep" or so in the mud. Now, going home was a problem. There was just no way that a person could get rid of the mud evidence and you would have to go home and face the consequences. If you had previously been told to stay away from the River, you have now been caught. Parents were just not stupid.

The next phase was the drying of the mud. Given a week or so and depending on weather conditions, the mud dried and then cracked. When the mud started drying, it started shrinking and soon the entire bank area was a mass of "Caked and Dried" mud. There would be sections of caked mud that you could reach down and pick up. It did not mix with the clay on the high bank nor the sand on the river edges. You could have sections that could be as large as three ring notebook binder and you would have sections that were as small as a quarter. This "Mud" had to be removed before the "Old Swimming Hole" could ever be back to normal. A few boys and a few days was all that it took to get rid of the mud. You would start at "Water's Edge" and toss some mud here and toss some there and before long, an area to play and swim was recreated. Then we swam and played. The next day, we cleared some more "Beach" area. Soon, all was back to "Status Quo".

It did not take long to realize that this "Mud" could be formed into throwing pieces so that it could be "Skipped" across the water. Make a "Work Project" seem like play and people would stand in line to do the work. Have you ever thrown a flat rock or a mud cake, low on the water, and counted the number of times that it would touch the water before it sank? Yeah, that was another contest between boys. "Mud Skipping" became an event and a contest. Wow, look, my chunk of mud touched the water ten times! The next thrower would try to make his mud cake hit the water eleven or more times. Don't remember the record nor the person that was best. Guess this"Count" could be high one day and low the next. Think that the high number of "Skips" was in the neighborhood of fifteen.

"Mud Skipping" was a fun pastime, but not that competitive. With "Mud Skipping" you could be champ one day and the next day a kid, two or three years younger, could win. Guess that luck, more so than talent or strength, determined how many "Skips" a person could make. Ah, now, it was time for the "Long Toss". Who could throw their piece of "Mud" across the river, a distance of about one hundred yards. Now, we had the ideal competition. We would form our perfect "Mud Cake" by breaking off small chunks of mud from a larger piece and by using a knife, or sharp object, to smooth and shape it. Now, we were ready. While the rest of the gang watched, each boy would take turns and try to throw his piece of mud across the river. You were "One-Up" if there was no splash, as that meant that your piece of mud made it all the way across. It was somewhat akin to the "Rites Of Spring" or other endeavor where a kid advanced from one level of growth to the next level. Once you made the toss, where your piece made it across the river, you belonged to a special club. Some never made it into that club.

Younger boys then, and I suppose now, looked up to the older boys. The ones that "Could Not", were in awe of the ones that "Could". Levels were established and they were as varied as being hard to beat in checkers, playing on the Rockport Basketball Team, being able to swim across the river, being able to jump from the middle pier and having the ability to toss a piece of "Mud" across the river and "On and On". Some boys made all levels, some a few levels, and there was always some that just did not do very good. You started off at the bottom and watched the older boys doing things that you could not do. Then one day you accomplished the feat that would allow you to join the club. You now went to the next level whether it was the swimming across the river, throwing you mud clod across the river, jumping from the middle pier and so forth. The boy that threw his "Mud" across the river for the first time advanced to the next level and now he was in the intermediate class. He had to keep proving himself by hurling that old Green River Mud across the river. Now the younger kids and the ones that could not quite toss the mud across the river looked up to the kids that could. This bunch was in the learning stage. The older boys soon aged enough to have to go to work and they left the utopia. They were gone forever and the next level of boys became "Top Dog". This "Graduation" was not much different than the "School Level" or "Grade Level" of each boy. You started at or near the bottom and advanced toward the top. In "Mud Throwing", tossing your piece across the river was the ultimate.

Again, if you are reading this, thanks. I hope that this simple tale took you back to an earlier place in time and a more peaceful and tranquil period. I know that as I pound on this keyboard, I am in remembrance of those times, those days of the late forties/early fifties. Ah, don't most of us want to go back... Before you travel back, all was not a utopia. The cars in those days were not much more than junk and most houses were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I remember the first time that I saw a 1949 or 1950 Studebaker. It was difficult to tell if that thing was going or coming. But wow; I loved the design of that car.

Guess this will conclude the tales of the Green River and such. Hope that everybody has a special "River" to grow up with. The "River Area" can be about all things to those that use it, but all is not without problems. It can also be a dangerous place. Of the many times that we swam in the river, in most cases, we went home that night. A few other did not. Death happened, as well as accidents. A miscalculation, such as in a dive, could lead to landing in shallow water. Teeth were broken as well as bones. For the most part, the river was our entertainment, except maybe on Saturday Mornings. There was always a few that tried to get to Central City to see a movie. Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Gabby Hayes and other western heroes were starring in movies at our local theatres, either in Beaver Dam or Central City. With a quarter in hand, we could see a movie and maybe get a drink. With fifty cents, we could make a day of movies, eating and maybe get a comic book, but that is another tale.

Thanks again for looking.

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j. r. durham


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