by kfrego

My step brother Preston was several years younger than I was. Like all younger brothers he was always anxious to accompany the older children. We had a considerable amount of freedom as to where we went. There were times when our parents allowed the younger kids to go with the older kids.

The Grass River ran through Louisville. Upstream of town the river flowed deep and slow. There were some clay banks with deep holes to provide good fishing. The best swimming hole around was just upstream of the bridge in town. About a mile above town there were nice grassy knolls in the pastures adjacent to some good fishing holes. As young teens we would fish at night and camp on the grassy knolls until the following day.

Our parents allowed Preston to go camping with me on one of the overnight trips. He was allowed near the river to fish, but there would be no swimming for him. It was his first camping trip without Mom and Dad. We gathered up all of our gear for the night. We had food, fish poles, tarps, and sleeping bags. It took two trips during the afternoon to get everything to the site. We arrived to set up our camp late in the afternoon. We spread our sleeping bags out on the tarps and rigged up our fish poles along the edge of the river. We gathered wood for a fire so we wouldn’t need to use coleman lanterns after dark. There were about six of us in camp and Preston was by far the youngest. By sunset we were ready to settle in, eat supper, and start fishing before dark. Preston was wound up like an eight day clock. He helped everyone, gathered wood, and was looking forward to starting the fire. He decided to chop some more firewood with the short handled, single bit, axe in camp. We didn’t really pay much attention to what he was doing. Preston stood a short piece of firewood on end and was splitting it with the axe. The axe glanced off the top of the wood, rotated, and hit him in the shin just below the knee. He let out a howl and grabbed his leg as he hit the ground. He was bleeding pretty good from a two inch cut on his shin. He was tough enough to stop howling and tried to hold back the tears, but his camping trip was over. We strapped a rag on his leg and I carried him home piggy back.

Preston’s first camping trip with the older kids was memorable…………..and he had the scar to prove it.