|courtesy of the AJC|
What I do remember are some of the events that led up to that grainy photo in the AJC.
I know there were entry forms and a fee, size specifications for the raft, and rules laid down by the sponsors of the race, one of those sponsors being WQXI, a local radio station.
BTW: It was AM radio -- what can I say -- we were three years from FM.
One of the original members of our crew and a fellow senior at Sylvan, Frank, joined up to be a part of our excursion down the Chattahoochee River, and he designed and helped to build the raft. Good thing, because the rest of us didn’t have a clue where to begin, regardless of having read a fictional novel set in the 1840s. Frank, a smart kid, especially in mathematics, drew a plan for our raft with specifications for size [8 people] and weight [who knows -- it was before the crisis in obesity] and the possibilities for building materials.
Since we were money challenged high schoolers, who already had to cough up money for the entry fee, we wished to use scraps and salvage for materials as much as we could. We had to buy lumber for the platform, but we felt like that we could get the six barrels [used for flotation] from one of the industrial sites around our area, and we used pine trees that we tied together for the rest of the raft. We wrapped the outside with rubber [for bumping], and Jonathan, our artist, made a sign … the origination of its intent has faded from my memory. In retrospect, the name was quite silly even though we, I’m sure at the time, thought we were clever.
|Jonathan holds the raft sign, "Up Your Satisfaction"|
BTW: For over twenty years, my mother kept a piece of that raft [a small chunk of sawed off pine] on a bookcase in her den as a souvenir. She must have found this particular shenanigan of her youngest daughter, the last of her brood, -- memorable or maybe she kept it for the sentimentality. When we closed up my parents’ house in March of 1996, after their deaths, I came across that piece of the raft.
There are two excursions that I remember well for [free] materials that make me laugh.
One was our search for barrels to be used as floatation devices. Jonathan, one of the other fellow raftees, and I rode around a nearby industrial area on Murphy Avenue on the hunt for the barrels. We were like Ahab's mariners, singing out if we sighted a barrel.
We trolled businesses, approaching foremen and managers, and asked if we could have their old, used oil drums sitting unused or trashed on their property. Mostly met with an emphatic “no,” we finally found one guy who shrugged and said, “sure.” So excited but also afraid that he might change his mind, we loaded those barrels, two at a time, in the trunk of my 1969 Chevrolet Belair and made three trips back and forth to that business. The barrels, tied down in the trunk, leaked and oozed thick sludge into the trunk.
Another time, a bunch of us raftees went to a section of woods, probably owned by someone but guarded by no one, and cut down several small pines to use as well. We made one trip, again in the trunk of my car, but a second trip we carried them lengthwise, where they jutted out the rear windows on either side. As we came up my street, the trees smacked, but did not break, the windshield of a parked car at the bottom of my street.
|Darlene, shooting the peace sign, Jonathan in the hat, and Frank showing off his practically amputated finger...|
|Jonathan and I tie the base together as JaJoe guards the middle.|
|Frank works; I snip.|
Hurriedly, and with my uncontrollable laughter resounding from the car, I gassed it for the top of the hill with Jonathan and Frank running beside the car and lifting the trees over other parked cars. They screamed at me to “slow down” and “watch out’ all the way up the hill. With my heart in my throat, as it was night-time -- I worried about our clandestine and perhaps *cough, cough* felonious activity. We ended up safely at my house where we unloaded the trees and carried them to my backyard, the raft building site.
We must have been quite a sight as I backed up that car loaded with this and that and carried it to the backyard where we assembled the raft piece by piece under the supervision of Frank.
Frank sat up shop with the materials for the raft and directed the rest of us on what to do to help. My friend Jonathan and I, as well as my kitten JaJoe, were pretty much his most frequent assistants -- since I lived there and Jonathan around the corner. With Frank’s instruction, we held planks down to be sawed, wrapped thick rope around small pine trees, and somehow the raft came together.
Sometime during this period, [I don’t‘ remember when exactly], Frank cut his index finger to the bone. Because of the seriousness of the injury and the fact that the wound could not be immersed in water, Frank was off the raft crew and out of the race. Since Frank was not only our chief builder, he was also to be our pilot -- this setback worried us.
At the last minute, a friend’s brother subbed for Frank - and as I recall, the sub's brawn saved us in some of the rough rapids on the Chattahoochee, but I’ll get to that later.
The next obstacle that we had to overcome was how to get the raft to the Chattahoochee River. What we realized too late was that the raft was heavy. Really heavy -- as in, we couldn’t lift it.
|The rafts sits heavily and miserably on the trailer -- it doesn't look river worthy, does it?|
|Another view -- JaJoe inspects it for mice, who are notorious stowaways -- *tee hee*|
|Pam stands in the back of the truck and stares disconsolately at the size of the completed raft|
|The guys lift and shove it into the truck -- check out the second guy from the left -- don't you love his hair accessory?|
|It's on the truck -- two guys, Charlie and George fade away -- they look nervous???|
|Bill [number 5] will take Frank's place on the raft; Brad grins at the successful launch of the raft on the truck. LOL|
So, Brad, a member of our rafting crew and the high school football team, convinced some of his fellow players to stop by my house and load it into a truck. Along with other friends of ours, we managed to get it loaded on a trailer only to discover that it was too large [see photo]. Frank, for all of his plans, well, didn‘t plan for the transportation of the raft.
We ended up renting a U-Haul truck to transport it to the river [don't know how we paid for that]. Once we got it to Morgan Falls, the dam at the top of the Chattahoochee and where the rafts were to be placed in the water, other rafters helped us take it down from the truck. The rest of the details of that have faded.
The Friday night before the race on Saturday, everyone of the raftees except two of us, Gloria and me, camped at Morgan Falls to guard the raft. My parents were behind us in this race, but not behind my camping out with boys un-chaperoned. Enough said.
Gloria and I would meet them early Saturday morning, really early, to get prepared for the race down the river.
I wondered what my neighbors thought of that activity that went on in my backyard. After all, it was 1972 -- and stranger things with young people were happening. Maybe they thought we were prophets, a type of Noah, listening to God and preparing for the end.
I am amazed now at my parents’ tolerance for all of this -- but I do know that their philosophy was -- better to have her being a fool at home where we can watch her than somewhere else.
Later: part 2 -- the race ..
I apologize for the quality of the pictures as well as the lack of having a photo of the whole crew -- not pictured, Gloria and George. Who knows where they were? Studying?
|How do you like my jeans? I think I made them myself. Ya think?|