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Summer on the Navarro
by Bill Kimberlin

June, 2001

On the Navarro, 1951

          The air still cuts and the wind is ringing every tree leaf in The Valley, but before you know it, we will all be back at our favorite swimming holes, looking for shade trees.
 
          My favorite place to swim, as a kid, was what we called, the "Tie Chute". At one time, this was a place on the Navarro where railroad ties were skidded down a steep bank (or chute) to the river, and then floated out to the ocean.
 
          It was really just a small natural pool of deep water next to a huge rock outcropping. This swimming hole was on my Aunt's Summer Resort and could be accessed by a foot path that ran right by an old Indian camp where we sometimes found arrow heads.
 
          After swimming, in the late afternoon, we would race to "the hot sands" to warm up. This little patch of sand was slightly higher than the rest of the little beach, and for some reason, the rich white sand here became much warmer than the rest.
 
Navarro, near "Tie Chute"  
Our skinny wet bodies raced for this warm dune, in hope of smothering our shivers. Soon, we were dulled by the heat and barely able to move. But now an even more fundamental craving struck us: sodas.
 
          How could we possibly obtain sodas down here on the beach? Except for the main house kitchen, the resort relied exclusively on ice chipped from blocks in a big wooden ice house that sat under a huge oak tree. A portable ice chest was unthinkable, a distant luxury unfamiliar to us.
 
          It may not seem like much now, but this quandary grew in our minds to exaggerated proportions. Should we stay here in this heavenly place, half anesthetized by the hot sands, or leave for what we knew were the riches of an open soda fountain, filled with every imaginable treat?
 
  "Scoop in all the ice cream the silver chalice would hold... add syrup and milk..."
          There was case upon case of Coca Cola, root beer, cream soda, Squirt, and Orange Crush cooling in a huge commercial refrigerator up at the Resort, but that was ten minutes away, up a hot steep path. This had to be carefully considered.
 
          There was also an ice cream refrigerator up there with six black lids. Each exposed a five gallon tub of vanilla, chocolate, rocky road, or strawberry (the only flavors we knew).
 
          But it didn't end there. There were restaurant sized carafes of chocolate, raspberry, or strawberry syrup and a whole gallon jar of walnut halves with a grinding mill for making sundae toppings.
 
          Then there was the three-stem milk shake machine. Scoop in all the ice cream the silver chalice would hold... add syrup and milk... mount your concoction... and grind to order.
 
          All of this was free to us, and we considered it our birthright, the spoils of having a summer resort in the family.
 
          After much deliberation, we always made the same decision, and headed up to the big resort kitchen to claim our prize. We almost never returned to the beach until the next day. Instinctively, we must have felt that these two great pleasures were not meant to be combined. Still, we always pondered what it might be like to have sodas, at the beach.
 
          I still swim there from time to time, but that soda fountain? It's gone forever.
 




 
 
 
 
 

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