A River To Never Be Forgotten
The alarm rang at 4:00 a.m. Grandma had no trouble getting us up this morning. We were leaving our home in San Fernando Valley, California to go all the way to Turner, Oregon. The other kids were asleep in the back seat but I didn’t want to miss one minute of this adventure. It was Camp Meeting time again. The first summer I went I was nine. Even though I was now fourteen I found it no less exciting..
My grandparents always went two days early because they were the camp cooks. They had packed our big Dodge station wagon with all kinds of non-perishable dry goods. We had to go to the warehouses in Salem to purchase the perishable items. It took us the full two days to get set up. It always looked like we were going to feed an army.
“Patty, wake up the others kids. It’s time to eat breakfast,” Grandma said. She didn’t have to tell me twice. We were going to get to eat breakfast in a café. The rest of the meals she had packed in a cooler but breakfast was to be a special treat.
The time flew by as we sang songs, played word games and stopped at the roadside park for a picnic lunch. I always enjoyed the scenery. The redwoods were breath taking..
“There’s the river Grandpa, “ I shouted. I started rolling down the car window. We were close enough to smell the peppermint that grew in abundance in that area. I had mixed feelings about the river. It ran through the camp and we kids were allowed to swim in it all but one special marked off place. It had a high drop off that formed a whirlpool. The summer we were nine my cousin Joanie was curious and decided she wanted to see the drop-off so I had followed her. We leaned over too far and fell off into the current. We started screaming for all we were worth. The Lord was good to us by sending two of the student ministers by just in time. They jumped in with their suits on and saved us. No one was any too happy with our antics. It wasn’t necessary to threaten me about getting near that area again. That same year I gave my heart to God knowing my life could have ended in this river. I was baptized in the safe end by a wonderfully handsome young minister.
As we came around the curve the huge Tabernacle could be seen in the distance. The history behind it was awesome. The grounds were full of cabins, six of which still had the straw mattresses untouched from the past. The tabernacle was a fortress in the 1800's. I loved hearing the stories told around the campfire.
People from our affiliated churches came from all over the United States to our yearly camp meeting. I had several friends I only got to see once a year. In the past five year my heart had grown founder of the young minister that had baptized me. All the older girls had their eye on him. Secretly I was very much in love with him. This year I was fourteen and just maybe he would feel as I felt.
I still cooked with my grandparents and enjoyed every minute of it. It was more fun than usual because Doug was camp supervisor and spent a good deal of time in the kitchen.
One evening after service Doug suggested we take a walk down by the river. My was heart pounding as he reached over and took my hand as we strolled down the path.. He carefully picked a log for us to sit on and watch the gentle flow of the river that was mesmerizing.. I could hardly speak for the feeling that engulfed my heart.
“Patty, what do you want to do with your life? He asked very softly.
“I want to marry a minister, live on a farm, and have twenty children.” I stated with all sincerity.
“Well, if I asked, would you marry a minister, live on a farm, and have twenty kids?”
“Yes,” I whispered, as he held me close and we looked out over the river that would truly never be forgotten.
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