Dog Days of Summer

In central-western Arkansas, with the coming of August it means the Dog Days of Summer will fast be here.

When I was growing up in Norman, there were two main places to go swimming on hot days in the summer. The Log and the Rocks! The Log was down behind Mrs. Taunton's house, which was near where Huddleston Creek runs into the Caddo River. There was a huge tree that had fallen years before and thus the name the Log. We used the log to jump off, however I don't think the water was deep enough to actually dive. We had fun splashing each other and just cooling off. 

The Rocks were up on the higher banks of the Caddo River, behind where the city water plant is. This is private property, so don't go messing around over there without permission. But here the water was deep enough to dive and to swim. It was off limits to the Dormitory girls, so I never swam there until after Dr. Barr left and the rules were loosened up a bit. This was a beautiful spot, with stair step huge rocks forming the bank on the high side. A large tree supported a rope, which those with plenty of dare would swing out and drop off into the deep water. It was also a place where many kisses were stolen (or freely given) in the late afternoon and evening. Some Dorm girls were known to slip out to meet a boy at this spot. (No, I was not one of them.) 

But then came the dog days of summer and no one could go swimming. We never totally understood what that meant, but everyone (almost) respected it. Durning the Dog Days of summer the water was brackish, dark, dirty, not flowing, and if one swam in it they were likely to become ill. A lack of rain and deep flowing water keep the river from being clear and clean like it normally was. 

What I see now it that the river has less than half the water it did in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It doesn't flow as fast, and it is not a clear, cool and clean. I'm sure much of this is due to the tons and tons of gravel that gets deposited in the river each time we have one of those big hard rains that deposits 11-20 inches in just 24 hours or so. The state will no longer allow gravel to be removed from the river, for fear of disturbing the habitat of a snail or some small endangered fish. The result is, it is causing much damage to the river and river property when we do get these floods. Water goes out of the bank and cuts into meadows as well as carving out new channels for the flow and sometimes these new channels aren't deep enough so when the water is low it is almost at a standstill in many areas. Ask any canoe company along the river. That industry has suffered badly in the last few years, and that suffering translates on down to the rest of the county. No tourist, less business, less taxes, less of everything. We need tourist in Montgomery, Polk and Pike counties to support the economy. Well, off my soapbox. Meant to just talk about hot weather and swimming


This 1927 photo in the Black Springs part of the Caddo River, shows that having fun on the Caddo is not a new fad. Anna Blain, Betty Blain, Anna Mae (Rowell) Duke, and Evelyn Highsmith show off bathing suit styles from the 1920s. I own at least three of those old bathing suits. Don't know why, except I like old stuff. They are all made of a wool type fabric and I can't see how they would be comfortable, but think of the dresses women wore then! Bet it felt good to get into a suit like this and take a dip in the Caddo.

© Shirley Manning 2004