Little Blue Pond

By Tom Watson

At a recent ARC De Plume meeting, we were prompted to write about a “favorite watery place in the summertime when you were growing up.” I immediately remembered Little Blue Pond.

My first camping trip was led by Jimmy Vause, about 15 years old, and I was11. The others were Buddy Vause, Jerry Wiggins, and Jerry’s German shepherd. Mr. Wiggins drove us to Little Blue Pond (really a lake) and dropped us off. Jimmy had us immediately put up a pup tent, and dig a small ditch around it to channel water away should rain occur.

Then we went swimming. The water felt great in the Florida summer heat. We played “Gator” for a while, then someone suggested that we swim across. Jimmy said we had better think about that. It might be farther across than it looked. Then he got us up on the beach, had us bend over like a football center, and look between or legs across the lake, It looked far wider that way, and we decided not to try.

After we cooked and ate dinner and told ghost stories, Jimmy assigned each of us “guard duty.” Everyone rolled up in a blanket and went to sleep outside, under the stars. Buddy woke me up for my duty at midnight. I was assigned midnight to 2:00AM, and it was very scary sitting alone listening to the noises of animals, birds, and insects. I was glad when two o’clock came, and I could wake Jerry up.

Thunder began as Jerry’s shift started and soon it was raining hard. We all crawled into the pup-tent. All but Jerry’s dog. She frolicked in the rain until she was completely wet, then joined us in the tent. She shook the water off, wetting all of us. Then Jimmy reached over and touched the tent just above Buddy. That was to show us all what would happen. Water started dripping from the place Jimmy had touched. With that new knowledge, we all started touching the tent over someone else. In a couple of minutes, we were all wet and cold.

Jimmy, at that time a “Life Scout” knew how to find enough dry firewood and ignite it, so we had fire to cook a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and canned corned beef. Mr. Wiggins arrived at around 11:00 to drive us all home. It had all been great fun, but home looked very nice!

Fast forward some seventy-nine years. Ellen and I were flying American Airlines into the new Panama City airport for our family’s annual week at Mexico Beach, FL. I was looking down as the plane approached the airport and I saw a very large lake. I told Ellen that it might be Big Blue Pond, but I didn’t know because I had never been to the new airport. However, as we drove to Mexico Beach, we crossed Florida road #77. Then I knew; it was Big Blue Pond, and Little Blue was close beside it!

Request a Tour of Army Residence

"*" indicates required fields