Strawberries by Debbie “Sam” Smith

I grew up on the river from third grade on. The house I grew up in was a great pit stop, but my ‘home’ was on the river and its banks. When I was young, I made forts in the undergrowth of willows, cottonwoods and tall grasses. My neighbor and best friend and I walked the dirt trails, often blazing them with our dogs and sometimes our cats. We would sit in the middle of those tall grasses basking in the sun, separating snake grass and talking naturally as only nature and friendship can do. I swam in our swimming hole at the flumes when the weather turned warm and river turned tame. It was a life-style; it’s just what we did, every day. It was home.  

On May 20, 1974, I was wandering the halls of Swope Junior High, trying to get to my next class when the news was out that a semi-truck full of strawberries drove over the old Mayberry Bridge. The news was that the truck broke the bridge and strawberries were everywhere. After school, I raced down to the river and sure enough, there were square green plastic strawberry baskets and strawberries strewn all over the river and its banks caught on rocks, sticks and spinning in the eddies in the river.  

I collected baskets and strawberries to show my family and neighbors; prized possessions of a silly historic day. But my greatest prize possession was when I walked to the old Mayberry Bridge and found a bumper to what I thought was the truck that did the dirty deed. I dragged it home and it was a piece of yard art at my folk’s home for years; a yard art that I wished I still had. Bragging rights, you know.