The things we did...do

By TIM BEELAND,

When my mother was alive she worried a lot about the tendency of her middle son, me, to be somewhat careless at times. In fact, in my youth she often flung her hands into the air above her head expressing her concern with the often heard phrase, “you are going to make me have a nervous breakdown!” I suppose, in some weird kind of way I pride myself in that.

If she only knew!!!!

Over the past week or so with the torrential downpours and areas of flooding all around, not just metro Jackson, but Mississippi and many other areas of the South, comparisons began popping up about the Easter Flood of 1979. Folks everywhere had an opinion, or a memory of that year and this year and what could or would happen in 2020.

As it turns out the Great Flood of 2020 is quite devastating for many and ranks as the third worst in history for the Pearl River. At least the Pearl, as mean as she was over the weekend, finally gave up and started backing down before topping out as high as predicted.

Like lots of people my age I have a vivid memory of the flood of 1979. The main reason, I suppose, was that me and my fellow classmates at Newton High School were eyeing graduation. We were seniors that spring and we liked to have fun. For us a flood could be lots of fun.

It must have been plenty warm that April because we were all out and about in those flood waters as the Chunky River east of Newton in the town of Chunky came out of its banks swallowing Highway 80 just as the Pearl did in Jackson.

As did many people we saw on the five o’clock news this past week, and heard tell of through social media and the like, we drove right through some of that water in my 1978 Toyota Corona. Of course we didn’t get into it deep enough to get washed away, or get water into the car, but we could have. We easily could have.

If Momma only knew.

But we didn’t stop there. We did stop the car, but then we got out and took a dip right slap dab in the middle of the highway as the rushing water of the Chunky rushed all around us. Since I’m here to tell about it, obviously we survived to test our mommas’ nerves another day.

And we did.

A bit further east of Chunky the river rolls past a place called Dunn’s Falls. It is a developed public park these days, but back in 1979 it was just a spot where an old mill once stood and kids, and adults alike, hung out in the easy moving river water, and beneath the trickling falls. It was a fun place to go, and go there we did often.

During the flood of 1979, the Chunky was not easy flowing, it was angry as was the Pearl, then and now, and being ones to test the nerves of mommas, and just about anyone else that gave us the opportunity, we headed to the falls. They were roaring and the flood waters were flowing swiftly.

Temptation led to temptation and the decision to jump into that rushing river was just too irresistible. We were smart enough to make certain that the jump site we chose would allow us to snag an overhanging tree branch just on the other side of the falls and rescue ourselves from the water. We did, and we did again, and again, and again.

Momma never knew!

I probably wouldn’t do that today, but I can not absolutely guarantee that I wouldn’t. I’m certain I would not drive into the flood waters. If there is one thing we’ve heard over and over again this week it is turn around, don’t drown. Plus cars cost too much these days too.

Today I would turn around, and then probably park the car and get out and take a dip in the middle of the highway.

Momma would be proud.

Well, kind of proud, anyway!

And, since it is Severe Weather Awareness week, do remember to turn around, don’t drown.