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The Stalwart Cypress

The Stalwart Cypress.
20” x 26”
Private Collection

The Old Swimming Holes
1925-1933, Perry, Florida

While on summer vacation
At Grandma Calhoun's big home,
Aunt Ruth would send the word
"Let's go swimming, children!"
Not one was left alone.

She drove Uncle John's touring car
Stuffed with happy kin,
Those who could swim
Helped those who couldn't
Being alert was the lifeguard then.

The springs, the rivers, the creeks
With waters pure and clear,
Were dear to all us cousins
For romping, splashing
And cannon balling with one's rear.

There always stood a special tree
Decorated with planks and a rope,
Carrying daring ones over the deep
Showing their skills
Full of laughter and hope.

Though these times have gone
And swimming holes disappear,
Generations like to recall
The excitement and fun
Of those days they hold so dear.

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The Stalwart Cypress
November ninth, 1988, my brother Harry and I left Orange City, Florida, by car for Waynesville, North Carolina, where the gathering of kin with spouses would celebrate aunt Gussie’s one hundredth birthday on the eleventh, Veterans’ Day. Little aunt Gussie, we reflected, was a veteran, having come from horse and buggy days to men on the moon.

Before we left, I expressed the hope of seeing at least one paint-worthy scene on the way. Hours passed and Harry reminded me, “Now Sis, when you see something for a painting just yell, and I’ll stop.” Near the time for lunch, we rounded a curve and crossed a bridge over the Suwannee River. I yelled! Here it was, beautiful November lighting, quiet scene, with the last touches of autumn color. The magnificent stalwart cypress stood as a center of interest on flood washed roots by the changeable shoreline of the unpredictable Suwannee. I wondered how long it had been standing there through good and bad weather and how many generations of children it had given happy times to remember. Aunt Gussie, surviving a little over one hundred and one earth years, lived through good and bad times by faith in the love foundation of Christ. This faith is the lasting legacy, by example, given her children for generations to come.

My brother and I gave our beloved aunt Gussie a lovely hand crocheted shawl for her birthday gift. She also, unknowingly, gave a gift in return. When I sat beside her and identified myself, (as her vision was poor), we held hands and reminisced of our travels with mom and dad. “And wasn’t it fun!” she said. I agreed emphatically, “It sure was!” “Now that I can’t do anything,” she told me, “on waking up in the morning I think of a good thought and build on it the rest of the day.” Aunt Gussie’s gift.

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