From Boise to Muncy—Memoirs, Pt. 2
Editor’s note-In the Oct. 15, 1953 issue of the Luminary, the first installment of four articles written by then 76-year-old Muncy native Paul Shoemaker recorded his early memories of Muncy. Mr. Shoemaker left Muncy around 1913, but had always maintained a close association through heavy correspondence and avid study of The Luminary through the years.
The next winter sport was coasting. The most used hill was just out the north turnstile of the school yard, the bock where the Mandville Coal Yard was (Hoffman, I now believe). Here we could coast to Market and Water streets, then down the alley to the Woolen Mills, down the Lancake alley, and then down the main alley to Water street. This is the hill where James Laird was injured and later died. We also used the Main street hill starting at High street, down Main street to the old Lutheran church, and then, lastly, was Shuttle Hill, starting at J. M. M. Gernerd’s where Lynn Smith and I had the champion sleds.
One night with perfect sledding we ran to the old Lutheran church. When not coasting, we were on sleighing parties: to Jack Rogers’ back of Pennsdale; to Opp; at the Trout Pond; to Rev. Monroe’s at White Deer; to Everett’s at Montgomery; to the Hotel at Hughesvill., Then, when no other place was provided, we just hitched a horse to our sleds and drove around town. Of course, hooking on sleighs was lots of fun when the driver would allow use to do it. But we often got switched, as some people were afraid we would scratch their sleighs.
The most fun was when Fatty Sheridan and Harry Brewer would take me with them in their dash and low seated sleigh. They had a crazy horse loaded down with bells. Some of them were three inches in diameter. Just why they always took me I don’t know, but I was sure envied by all the other kids. They also took me on their week-end camping trips on Shoemaker’s Island just south of the Shoemaker’s bridge Father would take them out to the Island Saturday afternoon and come back again Sunday evening.
I must relate one experience I had in Muncy Creek where the old road forded the creek and where all those with loose tires would go soak up their wheels. Between there and the covered bridge, we had a dandy swimming hole where the older boys would swim their horses in the evening. Then just west of the ford, about 400 feet, we had another fine swimming hole which was mostly for the older fellows. The bank on the north side was about 10 feet high, the south side a sandy beach. Two tall elm trees stood on the north side with a long rope tied high up in the tree, with an iron ring in the lower end of the rope, hung down about five feet out from the bank. You would have to p and catch the rope as it swung back and forth from the bank and drop off into the water which was about eight feet deep.
This is where I learned to swim. Joe Shawn, Sheridan, Brewer and others would take use kids on their backs, swim out and drive in the deep water, then turn us loose, and you had to swim or else.
Another experience I had with the older fellows also happened here. They went to the creek after a hard rain and found the creek high, water running over the riffles at the ford, about two feet high. They thought it would be fun to swim down the riffles, so they walked up to the covered bridge, down to the old willow tree on the north side where they undressed and started in.
Being left alone, I undressed and started after them, going down over the riffles like a cork. They had intended to land at the old swimming hole on the Sucky, but could not make it as the water was too swift. So on down they went, landing at the Rocks. When they saw me coming they called to me to land there, but it was too swift for me, so they got hold of each others’ hands, waded out and caught me as I was going by. The next thing, then, was to walk back up through Gowans field in the nude.
I am completely unable to describe my feelings while going that high muddy creek all alone, but I recall having a number of nightmares over it.