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Good Day For Swimming
by Walter Redden

    Swimming is good for you, or so I thought.

    Let us turn the clock back to the good ol' days in junior high school As I looked at the calendar, I see 1943 -- and I was just turning thirteen years old.

    Trucks were coming in and out of town loaded with dirt. This delta "buckshot" was as thick as an ubiquitous fog, maybe thicker.

    Midway Service Station was active with dump trucks and flat tires. This was really the only "full service" station in Pace -- a spot on earth in Bolivar County, Mississippi.

    The trucks were kicking up dust, hauling dirt to build a new highway that would stretch from Rosedale to Aberdeen, running west to east from the Mississippi River to the Alabama line (Highway 8).

    The dirt was coming from the "sand pit," as we called it, only a few hundred yards from the baseball field at the Pace Consolidated School.

    It was the second week of May, and school was about to close for the year. The weather was warm -- spring-like and just a gorgeous day to go swimming. The sand pit had turned into a swimming hole just made for teenaged boys.

    My buddy and I decided about 2 p.m. to leave school, yes, to play hooky and head for the sand pit.

    After about fifteen minutes in the water, we saw our principal, Mr. Box, drive by in his car. He spied us. Well, he just waved and left. That was Friday afternoon.

    At the first clang of the school bell on Monday morning, Mr. Box came to my room and beckoned me with his finger to come to him.

    As I walked down the hall to his office, I saw my friend about to meet me at the office door. I thought, What does Mr. Box want with us?

    He was short, quick and to the point. No lecture. Very succinct. He said, "Do not EVER leave these premises without permission." I took it that "premises" was a French word for school.

    He gave us a good spanking and sent us back to class. I thought that was the end of my problem. But, to this day, I get permission to leave the premises!


    Walter Redden is a native of Pace, Mississippi, in the Delta. He retired from the textbook business and resides in Jackson, Mississippi, where hes active in church and community activities. Hes a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.


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