Vol. 14


Half the Dam

late 1960s; Youngstown, Ohio, USA

"Half the Dam" illustration by Erica M. Kalista: A young girl climbs out of a second-story window, near the top of a small tree.A long time ago in the late 1960s in Youngstown, Ohio, I was sitting around my house feeling extremely bored. It was summertime, and the temperature was rising. I so badly wanted to go to the public pool, but I wasn’t allowed to go by myself, for I was only nine years old back then. Suddenly the light bulb in my head turned on, and I got an amazing idea.

My house was on a small hill above Mill Creek Park, a public park with many streams that led to lakes. There were also many rocks and pebbles around, something I kept in mind while I thought up my plan in my head. I went to my sister Mary Pat’s bedroom and told her my idea. “I see no flaws with this plan,” she said sarcastically.

“Great! Then let’s go get the others!” I exclaimed. Amazingly, she went along with my plan.

With Mary Pat lagging behind me, we walked down to Debbie’s house, a friend of mine from school. I knocked a rhythmic tune on her door. When she finally came to the door (after my knocking several times, that is), I told her my plan.

“Sorry, no can do. It’s my turn to do chores today,” she said glumly. “But maybe tomorrow?”

For a while I thought about what she’d said. Then I came to a solution. “How ’bout you just don’t do them?”

She looked at me like I was the next Einstein. Then she started shouting up the stairs, “Mom, I got my chores done. I’m going to play with Paula and Mary Pat!”

“It’s Polly,” I mumbled under my breath. I hate when people call me “Paula.”

With Debbie at my side and Mary Pat still slowly lagging behind, we went off to Bonnie’s house. “Do we have to get Bonnie?” Debbie said sourly.

“Yep, we need as many people as we can get,” I said with confidence in my voice.

“Oh, fine,” Debbie said, as though she was being forced to eat broccoli. “But don’t expect me to be nice.” Debbie and Bonnie had been fighting ever since they both got a crush on the same boy.

After we got Bonnie and Karen (we had to sneak Karen out of her bedroom window because she was grounded), we went down to Mill Creek Park and found a pretty spacious stream. “Perfect,” I thought in my head. I ordered the four girls around, making them gather rocks and make a pile of them by a tree. “Okay, let’s start making the dam!” I ordered. We spent the hour making a dam out of rocks and pebbles.

Then we started swimming around and splashing in the stream. It was so much fun — until the park officers found us, that is. We had to take down the rock dam. We took down only half of it, for some unknown reason.

To this very day, I can still see the wall when I drive past.

Josie Phillips, granddaughter of Polly; Ohio, USA

Illustrator: Erica M. Kalista; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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