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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, July 21, 2005


To the best of my remembrance, the year was 1955, our family was still living on Hickman Road in Augusta, and my brother and I were going fishing! This would have put my age somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 and my brother’s at 11. It wasn't that we had never been fishing before, but this time it was with a full-grown adult type person that actually caught full-grown adult sized fish.

My fishing experience to that point was with homemade cane poles that we had cut ourselves and had mostly caught small bream. If you are familiar with fish hook sizes, you know that the larger the number, the smaller the hook. One of our favorite tactics to catch the small, bait stealing fish was to use a size 14 hook, which I think was as small as they came. If the earthworm was about 3 inches in length, we would use about one eighth of it at a time, and fish an hour on one worm. The one downfall of our method was if the bream was over three fingers in width and length, it could straighten the hook.

I once caught a minnow that was too small for more serious fishermen to fish with. But with this big trip we could leave the small time stuff and enter the world of bringing home fish big enough to see in a photograph - yes, we did have cameras back then.

The full-grown adult had not consented to take us after much pleading - he had actually invited us! This person was my brother-in-law, who was in the military, and had stopped by for a visit with us while changing duty stations. So while my sister and her young family stayed at our house, we were going on the biggest adventure of our lives!

The moment finally came, we had loaded up serious fishing gear in the back seat, along with my brother and a large minnow bucket filled with small baitfish and headed out. It was a very pleasant day and from my front passenger seat of honor, I was lost in the full throes of anticipation of catching the largest fish I'd ever seen.

Our destination was located just above Augusta at the power plant, where the canal forked away from the Savannah River. Our route brought us past the Augusta water plant and at this point it narrowed to a one-lane dirt road that was not maintained very well. This narrow passageway was bordered on the left side by the canal just a few feet below the roadway and on the right by a sheer drop off of about 20 feet.

Our passage went well for about half of this last leg of the trip, but suddenly the second worst thing that could have happened - happened! Our host and driver eased just a bit to the right to dodge a large pothole, and the edge caved away, leaving nothing but air to support the right front tire. Air is a very poor support for an auto and a very predictable but unexpected thing happened - the 1952 Dodge with all its residents and contents, tumbled sideways down the embankment.

Now I don't remember exactly how many times the car rolled over, but I believe it was at least one and a half and it stopped upside down. The reason I stated this was the second worst thing that could have happened was because the aforementioned canal was on the other side of this narrow road, and you can imagine what could have happened there.

Just as we stopped rolling over, my brother let out a yell from the back seat because he was imagining we had landed in the canal, since the minnow bucket with all it's liquid contents and finned residents had emptied itself on him. We all came out with a bruise or two but nothing serious. When looked back on, this was one of those times in which some might see just luck or happenstance, but I can see the protection of the hand of God.


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