The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

AUGUST  2005

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.








by Toneeke Henderson

It was nearing a hat sweltering July weekend. We were at the Hiwassee River enjoying the water before the busy weekend goings on. People  were swimming and fishing close by. A truck pulled up, two young men wanted to  put their two ski doo's in the water so everyone scattered.

I knew they were in a hurry for it was late in the afternoon and maybe an  hour or two of day light left, as they frantically moved the ski doo's into the  water to be tested.

We watched as they geared the small speed type machines and checked the  oil and other items that require attention. We watched as they had decided they  were prepared to jaunt down stream with the river. Then there was a

sputter, a  choke, and then silence. The flip-flop of paddling feet was all we  heard.

We had inquired at what the problem may be. The explanation began  with  "we thought we would save  fifty dollars an hour to fix these ourselves, probably just need a tune  up."

These young men were very eager to get these machines in top shape for  the exciting weekend. So I can understand the frustration one may feel when the  engine stopped. These were two ski doo's that had been sitting in storage at  one's father's garage for over a year and they needed some

Toneeke Henderson

dusting out. The men were  very excited to have the new toys. They should have brought flippers along with  their life jackets.

The two young men I am speaking of are Ryan Baxter and Kurtis McAlpin.  They are very respectable fellows even through frustrated moments. While onshore  audiences watch the commotion of the machines.

I chose to write about them because they gave us all such a humorous  performance. As I said earlier, they were trying the Ski machines out and it  never failed, one would get so excited and take off and the other was about 30  feet out from the swim line, and the same sound would be heard… spit, sputter,  choke, and silence, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, time after time he paddled  his way towards the shore to attempt yet another go at the thrill of water  play.
My husband Lynn was in the water enjoying the rivers flow and watching  the comedic acts being performed at the river's edge. After awhile it got to be  too much, The sun was

setting and the river was flowing with the change of  light. The one ski doo never did quite make it any further then the 30 feet. One young man was so exhausted from flip-flopping his paddling feet that he almost laid his head down in pure disappointment and would have surely floated  down stream.

The flip-flopping was getting to be less enthusiastic and to the point that  you could hear his silent words, "if I only had a rope to pull me in". I could  see this in his face and hear it in his exhausted breath. Lynn had decided to  grab hold of the machine and pull him in closer to shore. His legs so tired from  paddling that he was unsure if he had reached a point to even  stand.

I know it really isn't funny the disappointment he experienced. When they  came to shore to load their machines back on the trailer I decided to ask them if it was worth saving the fifty dollars an hour. They were tuckered out and shook their heads. I told them who I was and that I had just elected them into  my written work for The People News. I then asked ok ... what advice do you have  for the readers of this article on sportsmanship along the  river.

A very quick reply from the two at the same moment they gave the same  answers, "SAFETY FIRST, TAKE YOUR ITEMS TO A PROFESSIONAL, SPEND THAT FIFTY DOLLARS, THEN YOU CAN ENJOY YOURSELF" and I dare to say not paddle your life  away. I must say Ryan and Kurtis were the most courteous I have ever head at the river. Never once did you hear them swear or get edgy or foul. Not even using words that describe when you see a monkey eating grass. They were very  respectable of their surroundings. I hope you young men were successful in getting the machines available for your river venture. For if anyone deserved a good time on the water you two did. Thanks for giving us humor, being kind and my little story.


I had to include this tiny little item. On the same day as the story above there was a young family at the river; the lady had just had her baby two weeks prior to sitting there. Her younger son or nephew, I am not  sure which, but he was about three years old, he wanted so badly to get into the water, he would go up on the dock and look into the water, but he never got in. 

There was not a lot that he could do except to run around as children do.  He had sandals on his feet and he kept saying all he wanted to do was get his  feet wet. Eventually he convinced his Mommy to let him get just his feet wet.  She sent the older child with him to where the water meets the shore on the  ramp. The little guy sat down and was going to take his shoes off and the older  boy was worried about him getting his clothes wet and pulled him straight up, he  protested with "I want to get my feet wet." Into the water they stepped, I have  never seen such glory on a child's face as what lit up this one. His eyes beamed as if Heaven had touched him.

His smile was wider than any one I have seen. His eyes twinkled with a  new found spirit. They reminded me of our children when they were young. The  little boy walked out of the water, stood in front of me looking with those star  gazed eyes and exclaimed "I got my feet wet" and never lost his smile. I can  still see his grin. That was a very precious moment in a child's life and it was  in mine too. 

Ahh, the time has come to sum this one up as I do all of them, to make a  point or not I suppose.

It is nice to have the fore thought that we know everything and don't need specialists to do the job for us at any set price, until we see that what we thought we knew wasn't what we knew at all. Aching muscles are in fact a way  to remind us how much effort we put into what we believe we can do, until we are caught going downstream without a paddle and realizing our feet are no substitute. We can take that lesson from a child. Even if we can't jump right in  the middle of the ocean we can still get our feet wet and still be just as happy. The chuckle will be handed down I am sure, as the next guy who thinks saving a dollar is better wisdom than paying he who has the wisdom. Have a  continued safe summer everyone. Invest in a pair of  flippers.