We had little understanding of the challenges we would face in circumnavigating our home town in the vessel that we had assembled. Vaughn’s Creek was a well known entity wherein we had fished, swam, and even attempted to jump a 3 speed Schwinn stingray bicycle over the majestic waters. Little could our tiny minds comprehend the monstrous entities that we were to face during our trip down the meandering slalom that was “The Creek”. I do want to remind our audience that “back in the day”, parents generally had no clue as to the mischief that their children immersed themselves in on a daily basis. So our parents had no clue that we were out “adventurin”, and probably would have not noticed that we were missing for a couple of days had we disappeared beneath the murky depths of Vaughn’s Creek. Had this adventure been instigated today, there would have been a full on nationwide news flash and amber alert, followed by an FBI investigation and forensic analysis. But I digress.
Our first challenge involved battling a swarm of “sea monsters”. In some spots, the creek was barely wide enough to let us through. So in these spots we had to wade into the water and push the vessel through the crevasse whilst keeping our heads above water. Unbeknownst to us, the waters were inhabited by tiny sharp toothed demon creatures of unimaginable strength and determination! Let me just say right here, that removing a leech from your testicles is not an easy task. As it turned out, not only were there trouts and other fishes inhabiting these waters, there were Lots O’ Leeches.
Our second challenge involved the Clashing Rocks of Grecian mythology. Fitting three little kids on a raft through a culvert is like stuffing your mother-in-law into a girdle. At one point there was about a 4.1 foot diameter pipe that went under the road and our raft was 4 feet wide. So we sorta slithered and pushed the vessel through the mossy sludge that covered the bottom. It felt the way you would expect, as our shorts were filled with globs of goo that had the smell and consistency of baby diarrhea. We all later had to explain to our caretakers the reason that our tighty whities were now brown stained bloomers.
After cleaning out our shorts, the final challenge involved us facing the Cyclops that guarded the creek. The Cyclops took the form of Cutey Kumpage’s crazy old man, who was under the demented opinion that he owned a certain section of the creek. The old man was like most anally retentive old bastards, in that he took meticulous care of his lawn and the surrounding environs. In this case, the surrounding environs included Vaughn’s creek which bordered said lawn on one side. Fortunately for us, we were halfway down the side of his lawn before he realized that we were there, and charged us with a garden rake. The Oxford rowing team could have learned a few new tricks that day by watching an instant replay.
Fifty plus years later I would learn that the raft still existed and was hidden, way in the back of Melvin’s parents’ garage. Why he had retained this monstrosity, I have no clue. It may be that Melvin thought that one day he would want to relive the experience by a repeat voyage. My suspicion is that some day, I will see this thing show up on an episode of Hoarders.
The neighbor kids did later talk in hushed whispers about our great voyage and analogies were drawn to the homeward voyage of Odysseus to claim his kingly heritage in Ithaca.