59th Street Bridge Song, revisited

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

One summer day, my uncle decided to take me and my cousin Hank swimming.

Keep in mind that this was in the days before grownups knew about hyperactive children.

There were no drugs for kids in those days, but a lot of the parents in our neighborhood used a switch to maintain control and to teach a child self-control.

My uncle did not know it at the time, but he could have used both a switch and some Attention Deficit Disorder medicine.

The signs were all there, including our constant talking and inability to remain still.

We were so giddy with excitement that the trouble we were causing en route to the pool nearly ruined the trip. Our uncle endured in spite of our best efforts, and we made it the pool.

We rushed into the locker room and hurriedly undressed. If someone said we were racing, I didn’t hear. Hank must have heard, however, because he changed into his swimming trunks before we could blink an eye.

That’s when the story took a turn for the worst.

There was a popular television commercial at the time advertising a breakfast cereal that depicted a young boy taking a running start and jumping into a lake. The catch phrase was, “Feeling Groovy.”

You could have watched that commercial during the middle of a snowstorm, but it made you believe that you could feel groovy by taking a running start and jumping into a lake or a similar body of water.

That image must have been on Hank’s mind, because he reenacted the commercial right down to the splash.

To borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey, “And now the rest of the story.”

None of us kids at the time gave much thought about what happened once that child television actor hit the water.

We only wanted to feel groovy. It turned out that in order to prevent from sinking, one must know how to swim.

Hank did not.

His groovy splash was followed by his non-groovy cries for help. I stood on the pool’s edge and watched in horror. Hank was thrashing about like a tuna fish caught on an invisible line.

My uncle dove into the pool, followed by a lifeguard. Together they were able to pull Hank to safety.

“I was feeling groovy and I didn’t know how deep it was,” Hank explained when asked why he dove into the pool.

Needless to say, our field trip came to an abrupt end that day.

I never even got to stick a toe into the pool.

I was furious at Hank for nearly drowning and hence ruining our day.

I often reflect back on that day.

So often I have started something that I thought was groovy, only to later need rescuing because I was in too deep.

Time after time and fall after fall, God played the same role in my life as my uncle did that day for Hank.

Each time I reflect on that episode, I am reminded of the scripture that states, “For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

I am certain that if we could go back in time and interview Adam and Eve, King David, Samson and a host of other biblical characters, they would tell us that at one point – either before or during their fall – they were, in fact, feeling groovy.

But groovy never lasts.

The Bible goes on to state, “Acknowledge God in all my ways, lean not to my own understanding and He will direct my path.”

If I would do a better job of acknowledging Him, I would not have to worry about the uncharted waters in my life, or of ever getting in too deep.

I am persuaded that may indeed be the true way to feeling groovy.

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