Harvey Hole was our own private swimming pool

Charles Boothe

It was not unusual to see a water snake sunbathing on a limb as we crossed the small stream to reach the top of a large, long rock that bordered the creek, flat on top and enough room to accommodate a bunch of kids.

The snake always quickly slithered into the water, not giving us the time to find a rock, and hitting it was always a challenge anyway so we rarely actually had the time or the skill to hit one.

But we were never going snake hunting when we went to the Harvey Hole, and not even to fish when it was hot day in the middle of the summer.

No, we wanted to swim.

Over countless years, the small stream had gutted enough of the creek bed to create a fairly large pool of water in this spot, and deep enough to jump and dive off the rock.

It was our own private swimming pool.

Yes, it did have snakes, fish, crawdads, unidentified bugs and a even a little trash from time to time that we quickly removed.

Upstream, I am sure, some raw sewage found its way into the cold stream, but we didn’t care.

In fact, we were always told whatever goes into a cold mountain stream is purified after it travels about 6 feet or so.

Well, that’s probably not true. But, on the other hand, we all grew up pretty darn healthy, and we ate a lot of fish from that steam and certainly accidentally gulped some water down on occasion.

The water hole was also downstream from a sawmill and ran right beside a huge pile of sawdust, but, again, it didn’t seem to matter at all.

Sometimes not knowing any better works out just fine.

We also didn’t know why it was called the Harvey Hole. I had heard a young boy in the Harvey family had drowned there many years before and was the source of the name, but no one knew for sure.

I just thought it was because the sawmill was owned by a man everyone simply called Mr. Harvey.

But that’s a boring backstory. We all like a little intrigue and myth.

I have no idea how many hours the other Possum Hollow kids and I spent at the Harvey Hole, but that rock and water were special to us.

Most kids these days go swimming in public pools or designated swimming areas of lakes.

I don’t recall swimming at a public pool when I was growing up and the only officially designated area was at the park on Wolf Creek in Narrows.

We did have a beach-like shore on New River near Glen Lyn called the “Sandbar,” a very popular place to swim and fish and camp.

I think, though, it was eventually trashed by careless, uncaring people and eventually the access road was closed.

We always tried to keep the places where we hung out clean. I can’t imagine not doing that.

But playing and living around trash and junk doesn’t seem to bother some people. Sad.

The Harvey Hole is still there, and I actually revisited it several years ago.

As most things from our childhood, though, it seems so small, far smaller than I remember it to be.

But my memory is clear, as if it happened yesterday, and I can easily see myself, Jimmy, David, Roger, Frances and others in the neighborhood on old Route 460 near Oakvale fishing and swimming there, jumping off the rock, and having typical summertime fun during that era of no cell phones, video games, laptops, malls and only one channel on the TV.

The outdoors was our playground year-round, but the summers were always special and filled virtually every day with the creek, the hills, the softball and football games in the pasture and basketball on dirt ground with a homemade backstop and usually not much of a net in the hoop.

No public pools or tennis lessons or camps or long family vacations with motels and eating out and theme parks.

Of course, you don’t miss what you haven’t experienced, and I don’t guess it mattered.

Because the truth is, I can’t imagine having a better time than we did.

As the saying goes, the only difference between a rich person and a poor person is money.

Charles Boothe is a reporter for the Daily Telegraph and can be reached at cboothe@bdtonline.com