A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Bad Night On The Bull Creek Bridge

Daddy's work truck was our primary means of transportation.
"Why is Billy soaking wet?!"  That was Mama's question when we all came in the back door.  And a pretty good question it was, as a matter of fact.  After all, it was after dark, and I was only 5 years old, and everybody else was dry.  Well, everyone else except for Daddy.

It had been raining hard all day, and when Daddy came in from work that afternoon he said that the water was up almost to the top of the low-water bridge over Bull Creek when he crossed it. Bull Creek runs parallel to Danville Road, and the bridge is located just after you turn onto Highway 248 East.  It's a nice, tall bridge now, but back then it was of the "low-water" type, that is, it was a concrete slab with three or four large culverts to carry the water.  The Bull Creek bridge was one of the larger low-water bridges in the county, so it was unusual for water to crest over the top, but it did occasionally.

After supper, we decided that we would like to see this for ourselves.  It was still light outside as dusk was approaching, so we figured we could see the bridge and make it back home before it got too dark.  So, we loaded into Daddy's telephone truck.  That was our only vehicle, so we were used to making ourselves all fit into the cab.  It was Daddy, me, Janet, and at least two of the brothers.  Packed in like sardines, we made the short drive down Pine Street, turning right onto Danville Road for a short distance, and then left onto 248, arriving at the bridge.

It was a fascinating sight, for sure.  We stopped in the middle of the bridge, and all got out.  The skies had cleared, and the setting sun produced a golden light that reflected off the water.  And what a lot of water it was!  It seemed that we were floating on the water; everywhere we looked, water surrounded us.  Even the bridge itself seemed to be a part of the water.  I had never seen anything like this!

I looked back upstream, and I could see the current gently sweeping toward me.  I imagined myself on a boat, moving against the current.  I was in a world of my own, fascinated by what I was seeing.

Suddenly, I was engulfed by the water!  I don't know how, but I had managed to step off the side of the bridge.  The gentle, peaceful current was now smothering me; I could do nothing to help myself!  I reached out frantically for something to hold to, but there was nothing there.

But then Daddy was there with me.  He had jumped in when he saw me fall, and managed to grab me before I was sucked into one of the culverts.  He lifted me back up onto the bridge, then climbed back up himself. 

So, tragedy averted, we loaded back up in the truck and headed home.  One of the brothers had the misfortune of having a soaking wet 5 year old sitting on his knee, but that was the only way we could fit in the truck.  The sun had finally set, and I was beginning to shiver by the time we got home.  Mama met us when we went back in the house, and I think she was more than a little weak-kneed when we told her the story.

We made lots of trips back to the Bull Creek Bridge in the following years.  It was a popular destination for bike rides, and one time when we were in high school, Randy had an old jeep which we rode literally down the middle of Bull Creek almost as far as back to Highway 71.  We were a little sorry to see the old concrete slab go when they build the new bridge there.

I suffered no lasting problems from my experience, although I blame that episode for my complete inability to learn to swim.  When water goes over my head, I just about panic.  I was able to fight my subconscious fear long enough to get baptized back in 1971, but I tend to avoid submersion for nonreligious purposes.


  1. That new bridge over Bull Creek still does not look right to me! It may be "fancier" and better equipped to carry more traffic - but it is just not the same as that low-water one that was there before! That was a favorite destination for bike rides and long talks. I remember one time Janet and I made the ride there (don't remember where you and Randy were....) but it was just us girls. We had sat there for quite some time - she on one culvert and I on another - dangling our feet in the cool water rushing through. We had just gotten up, put on our shoes and were getting ready to set out for home when a huge water moccasin was washed through the culvert and came out where Janet's feet had been just minutes before! I don't remember us ever dangling our feet there after that!

  2. Oh my goodness! Every mother's nightmare! Good thing your Dad came to the rescue! Have a good week. blessings,Kathleen

  3. Oh my! That makes me nervous every time I hear it! Papaw the hero!