During my sophomore year at Naselle High School, I thought I would become a pole vaulter. I placed nails every six inches or so from 6 foot on up on two poles I cut out in the woods. These were my uprights. For a cross bar, I came up with a bamboo pole that had been in the center of a role of carpet. I used a pike pole for my vaulting pole. At that time, we no longer had any cows in my grandma’s field so, the grass was too high.
The Tischers next door were running cows in their field and that became the training ground for the career I was sure would include Olympic gold. I blame my failing to fulfill that dream on those darn cows. No matter how often I moved those uprights and re-dug my set box, those blasted bovines would find them. They apparently considered them as their personal back scratchers. It seems, a good back scratching promotes bovine regularity. Within two hours of setting up my uprights, the entire area was dotted with fresh cow pies.
It’s hard to focus on reaching Olympic vaulting heights when you have to start looking for a landing space while you’re racing down the runway. After washing and rewashing my clothes in an effort to get out the cow pie stains, my grandma suggested I focus on becoming an Olympic swimmer. If it hadn’t of been for those “goldfish” in Deep River, I might have made it. I guess that statement will need a little explanation, so, here you go.
Swimming with Appelo’s goldfish
We had a dock on the Deep River that was a great platform for swimming and fishing. While Deep River does have a contributing watershed, it is mainly a slough for tidal water from the Columbia. As a result, when the tide was coming up, the water flowed toward the town of Deep River. When the tide was going down, it flowed toward the Columbia.
The town of Deep River had, at one time, been quite a going concern, however, by the time I was a kid, it had pretty much melted down to an old hotel, a post office and Appelo’s store. By that time, the store was only open a day or so a week. The store had an interesting feature — a bathroom that was built on a platform on the side of the store hanging over the river. This meant the products of that room fell directly into the river and headed for our swimming hole when the tide was going out.
Every once in a while, one of these products would manage to sneak up on one of us kids when we were swimming. We named them, “Appelo’s goldfish.” I can attest there is no way you can out swim this particular strain of goldfish. Swimming away somehow creates a vacuum effect that just pulls them right along behind you. Going under water and swimming away became the accepted manner of escape. I don’t know if they were anadromous or not, but I don’t recall every seeing one return from the ocean.