Summer Frolics - Charles Andrew Olds

The  following story is based on a true incident in the life of Charles Andrew Olds* of Toquerville, Washington County, Utah in the early 1900's. Retold by his grandson, Brenton Bauer.

Summer Frolics

"A-yow-EE-ee-e!" wailed Andrew as he slid through the soft pink blow sand. He swerved and twisted around rocks, bushes, and boulders as he lead the small gang of boys down the steep side of the ravine and on to the Old Cradle swimming hole.

Spring and summer floods wash loose rocks and sand away leaving pools of semi-deep water amid the larger boulders of Ash Creek.. These pools are not true swimming holes, but rather a place to wet your toes and cool your nose on hot summer days.

"First one in the cradle is king." shouted Slack as he passed Andy in a swirl of dust followed by Dodge and the other two Olds boys.

"I'm first!" shouted Dodge.

"No! I'm first!" retorted Andy as he rushed to pull off his shoes, shirt, and dungarees before heading into the cold water. "Wow! It's cold," he exclaimed after jumping into the water.

"Yow-ee!" shouted the other boys as they splashed each other with the icy spring water.

"Hey! Andy! How long can you stay under?" inquired Slack.

"Longer than you!" Andy replied as he dived under the surface.

When Andy came up, he saw Dodge running down the pebble covered stream yelling, "Tadpoles! Jillions of 'em. Let's catch some of em." The other boys came running to him scooping up handsful of the small creatures as they splashed down the stream.

"Here's one with legs, and no tail."

"Here's another...and another."

"Look! I've found one with suction cups on it's toes."

"That's a tree frog, you ninnie!" proclaimed Andy. "I have an idea. Let's have a race. Everybody find a racing frog."

"OK," they all agreed.

"Wait till I find one," cried Arthur, Andy's younger brother. He quickly caught a frog. "OK! I'm ready. Let's race!"

The boys rushed to the edge of the pool and very carefully released their green treasures. The frogs swam frantically away from the boys across the shimmering pool. First it was Slack's frog that was ahead. Then it was Arthur's. Finally from behind came Dodge's slightly larger speckled green frog. It passed all of the others except Andy's. With one spurt of energy Andy's frog leaped on shore.

"Mine won!" exclaimed Andy as he scooped the bewildered frog up in his hands.

"Don't let them get away." shouted Slack. "I want to keep mine forever." The boys quickly scooped up their frog.

Andy, hurriedly grabbed his dungarees, unceremoniously stuffed the frog into his front pocket. "Last one up to the old bridge is a monkey's uncle." He picked up his shirt and shoes. He started running up the pebble laden creek. The others quickly followed.

"I'm goin' to be first on the swing." yelled Slack. "First one there always has the first turn. REMEMBER!"

Over the earthen dam that diverted water to the west fields and on up toward the spring, splish sploshing and yelling as they ran with the cool, wet sand oozing between their toes.

Slack was first to reach the swinging bridge. He made a bee line to the loose hanging cable and grabbing tight, gave a gigantic leap into the air. Out over the water he flew until he almost reached the black flat walled canyon on the other side of the creek. Starting back, he let go and fell into the pool below. He was soon followed by the other boys, one after another, swinging and dropping into the shallow water over and over again.

After several turns they lay on the hot sandy beach to warm up. All of a sudden, Andy sat up and yelled, "Hey Slack! I'm starvin'. Let's go get some melons."

"Sounds OK to me Olds." replied Slack.

Jumping up, the boys followed their usual route that twisted between lava boulders, sagebrush, and small fenced fields covered with dry brown grasses of August. Wire fences overgrown with tempting ripe black himalaya berries side tracked them, as they stopped and gathered handsful of the ripe berries. Eating as they went, they slowly made there way toward town.

Andy especially liked to walk by old man Slack's homestead. His fence, along the road, had several pomegranate bushes sticking out. Not quite ripe, for another two months, but they were starting to turn red and loosing that tart puckery taste young boys could never resist.

Slowly they made their way along the hill toward the lane that lead past the old pioneer cotton mill, where the early settlers had separated the seeds from the cotton balls, and on toward Toquerville.

Moving along the irrigation ditches the boys meandered through fig trees. They climbed the trunks and long skinny branches which they rode like horses. It was their favorite place to play cowboys and Indians even though the fuzz from the underside of the fig leaves made a boy itch till the cows come home.

After tiring of the climbing they moved on toward Grandpa's field. Rounding a bend in the ditch, they arrived at Grampa Theobald's prize melon patch. Gramps had cleared the land of black lava rocks and built rock fences outlining his fields just as his family had done in England.

"Hey, Andy! I dare you to steal that 'big old watermelon'." shouted Slack.

"Ah! My ma would kill me." responded Andy.

"Oh she won't either."

"She will too!"


"I'm no chicken."

"Are too!"

"Am not. I'll show you." replied Andy as he jumped up on the top of the stone wall and on to the loose dirt. Grabbing the biggest melon he could find he jumped on top of the wall. He had been too busy arguing with his friends to notice a loose rock. As he stepped on top of the fence, the rock tipped, knocking him off balance. He fell forward onto a prickly pear cactus. "Ah, shoot!" he cried. With his tarnished pride and torn pants Andy got up and started dusting off his trousers. A sharp pain quickly ran through his arm.

"Ow-e!" he cried as he held his right arm. "Ohhhh! What am I going to do? Ma will kill me for sure and so will dad. I think my arm is broken."

After much debate and discussion about what to do, the gang started home. Andy thought the long walk home would never end. The pain in his arm was increasing and once home he knew Ma would take him to see old Doc Steele.

The sunlight was fading in the west as they approached Andy's house on the lower street. They could see Andy's Ma hangin' clothes on the old rope clothesline east of the house. When the boys arrived she asked, "Where have you kid's been? Why didn't you come home a long while ago? Hum! I'll bet you've been swimin' in the cradle, by the looks of your hair." She noticed the tear stains on Andy's face. Seeing he was holding his arm, she quickly asked "Andy, what happened to you?"

Arthur, Andy's youngest brother, bleated out, "Couldn't come home. Andy broke his arm."

"I just fell." Andy responded looking at the other boys for support.

Ma demanded to know just what the boys were doing and where they had been. Finally after much prodding Slack confessed. They were going to steal one of Grampa Theobald's big prize watermelons when Andy slipped going over the wall and broke his arm.

Andy's Ma gathered her thoughts together, took a deep breath and rolled up his sleeve to get a better look at his arm. She exclaimed, "Andy you get into more trouble than anyone I know. Boys, carry Andrew to "Doc's" place." Andy would have rather walked. His legs worked fine, but Ma insisted. Slack and Dodge carried Andy and were followed by everyone else.

Of course, as they passed each house along the way Ma would stop and tell the story of what happened. This occurred over and over again as the procession passed the school and headed up the hill. By the time they arrived at the doctors house there was quite a large group tagging along. The boys put Andy down and they all waited for Ma to knock on the door. Knock! Knock! The sound echoed as Ma tapped the door frame. Stepping back she too waited for the mysterious "Doc Steele" to appear.

Silence fell as the crowd patiently waited. Slowly the door opened a small crack. Then it was pushed open a little farther. Andy thought he could see Doc's eyes lookin' at the crowd through the crack. Then, without warning, a white uncombed fluff of hair appeared. Wrapped in his old blue cape with a red silk lining and holding a battered walking cane, he sputtered in a shaky voice, "What do ya want Mrs. Olds?"

"Andy broke his arm and needs you to fix it." stated Ma in a calm but demanding voice.

For years Doc Steele had practiced a non-traditional approach to medicine along with his boot making and cobbler shop. He often gave townfolks concoctions of cayenne pepper, lobetia, and even cherry stones for anything and everything that ailed them, including pain.

Doc slowly opened the door and let them inside. Andy had never seen the inside of this office. He had always waited outside while Doc treated his brothers or sister. The room contained only a short table with a ceramic wash basin and water pitcher, a chair, a large black chest, and a small three-legged stool. Behind the table on the wall were shelves lined with old bottles and small gray drawstring bags filled with who-knows-what.

On the other wood planked walls hung animal traps, pieces of leather, and all sorts of apparatuses. On the floor were several heaps of dusty leather pieces piled on top of a simple homemade rag rug. The fading sunlight coming through two small windows made the room seemed dark and dreary. A short oil lamp gave off flickers of light and the smell of burning oil. Andy didn't recognize any of the different smells except peppermint, the oil lamp, and the strong sent of leather.

"Sit, son." commanded the doctor, pointing to the small stool, as he wiped the dust from the top of the table. He lifted Andy's arm and turned it to and fro, noticing every bump and indentation. "Hum!" whispered the eighty one year old man to himself.

By this time Andy was starting to shake from pain and shock. He knew the doctor would, for sure, give him some of his famous pain concoction. He would have to fake it and this he feared more that the pain.

"Feels broken to me." mumbled the doctor.

He went over to the big chest near his desk and pulled out a large white bed sheet and began tearing it into long strips. When finished, he went outside and came back into the office with a large wooden crate. Taking a jagged-tooth saw, he cut the boards to fit Andy's arm to make a splint.

Doc wrapped the arm with several strips of cloth, placed the boards along both sides of the arm and continued wrapping. Finishing, he tied two ends of the remaining cloth into a knot, making a sling to put around Andy's neck, he asked, "Do you need any pain medicine, son?"

"No sir!" quickly responded Andy with a big smile on his face. "I'll be just fine."

On the way back down the lane walkin' toward home, Ma elaborated, "I hope you have learned your lesson, Andrew Olds, and won't go stealing any more watermelons."

"Yes, Ma!" replied Andy as he turned and winked at his friends.

Dodge and Slack winked back.

*Charles Andrew Olds, son of Thomas Olds and Elisa Jane Hunt, Thomas was the son of Elizabeth Uren Theobald and Emanuel Oulds.


This history is copyrighted and is offered for personal use and research only.
It is not to be reprinted or used for commercial purposes without written permission.

Copyright 2000 by Brenton Bauer

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