Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations: Dreaded Lockjaw

Mine Creek Revelations: Dreaded Lockjaw


YES, I AM STILL HERE peeking out of the newspaper’s window on Main Street and I am trying to think of things I am no longer afraid of (or, as my grammar-fixated Facebook friends would say “… of which I am no longer afraid.” But I don’t want to get fixated upon little things like this.)

Just things of which I am no longer afraid.

Like: Lockjaw.

Remember when you got cut by a piece of rusty metal or you stepped on a nail and your buddies said you better go get a tetanus shot otherwise you might come down with Lockjaw? And you didn’t go get a tetanus shot but you didn’t come down with Lockjaw, anyway? Was that just luck, or a miracle? Or was Lockjaw a media hoax? Don’t worry.

Just the stress of imagining what Lockjaw was like was surely worse than Lockjaw itself. In later years I wondered if Lockjaw might be a good way to lose weight.

At any rate, I’m no longer afraid of either Lockjaw or weight loss.

Another thing of which I am no longer afraid is running out of drinking water in the Dog Days of Summer.

In fact, there are several generations of Nashville residents who no longer have to worry about running out of water. In fact, there are several generations who were never even AWARE that EVERYBODY had to worry in August that there might not be enough water.

There was a time when we’d have our annual summer drought and townspeople would go up to Lake Nichols to look at the dry, cracked lake bed and worry that the town would run out of water. It was normally a real shallow little lake and it was the town’s ONLY source of water. The feeder creek would be reduced to a trickle during drought.

Our ‘country’ neighbors would laugh and say stuff like, “Ha, ha. Us country folks don’t worry about having drinking water because we’ve got our sweet wells.”

Then they’d have their well water tested and learned it contained just a weeeeee bit of chicken litter. But that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested unless you live ‘out in the country.’

One time the drought and Lake Nichols got so bad that our friends down at Mineral Springs offered to send us some water via Arkla’s  brand new pipeline which was not yet in use. I think we finally got a rain, so that gracious offer was never needed. Thanks, anyway.

And one summer some of the local peachmen and hay growers and the chamber of commerce hired a rainmaker. He had a homemade cannon pointing up in the back of his pickup truck. He promised to have a specific amount (I can no longer remember) of rain by a specific date, and the locals promised to give him some of their precious money.

For days he drove all around the area blasting chemicals high into the air from the thingy in the back of his truck.

We got a rain, alright, but it was not quite in the amount the locals wanted, so they gave him not quite the amount of money he wanted. The rainmaker’s name was Homer Berry.

Some locals fretted that by not paying Mr. Berry the agreed amount we were jinxed, and we would soon be driving up to Lake Nichols again to look at the dry, cracked lake bottom.Worrying even more.

Finally some farsighted citizens and city officials got us access to that wonderful Little Missouri River water flowing out from under Narrows Dam. And a few years later more farsighted citizens and city officials built an earthen dam across a spring-fed creek in the Mine Creek watershed and turned it into Lake Louis Graves, the city’s upstream reservoir.

Between the upstream lake, the Little Mo, and Lake Nichols, Nashville is not likely to run out of good drinking water. Neither are our ‘country’ neighbors because many are now in the Rural Water Association which buys and distributes the city’s fine water.

Other ‘country’ neighbors who are not on Rural Water will just have to put up with a few feathers in their drinking water.

Lake Louis Graves got its name because when he was in his 50s my father bought a small farm north of town. For several years his sons and daughters planted Pine seedlings at every available spot.

Then one day, some farsighted citizens and city officials came to Swampy Graves and said “we need some of your land to build a lake so we won’t run out of good drinking water like you’re always writing about in the danged newspaper.”

There were several other landowners, but Louis (and Wilton) Graves gave up the most land. And that’s kinda how the lake got its name.

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ANIMAL CRACKERS. I know they’re coming, and I finally heard one on my morning walk, Monday.

A cicada. Jillions more are predicted to follow in a few days. Our last hope is that the Deep Freeze got some of  ‘em.

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MORE THINGS I LEARNED from opening an email: When companies ship Styrofoam, what do they pack it in?

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WORD GAMES. The twins: Facts & Fancies. The name of the column Swampy Graves wrote in his newspaper for about 50 years.

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HE SAID: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus, Greek philosopher and writer

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SHE SAID: “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott, American writer

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