Sam Wood was the father of my friends back in the day. He was hard of hearing. This I remember. I do not recall him saying, “Stepped in what?” when he didn’t hear. I do recall that such a saying would fit his personality.
I also recall receiving an invitation from him and his son, Mike, to float the Mulberry River. I was in college at the time and drove down to meet them. It wasn’t far, just a few miles on down the “pig trail”, an alternative to US 71 from I 40 to Fayetteville.
That float trip found us only swamping once a piece for the two canoes that represented our party. But it did put us all in position of confronting recreation and life.
On that trip we encountered flood stage waters. The river route steered the river runners into waters off the main flow. We encountered many folks pulled to the side with lots of anxiety.
A canoe had capsized and become trapped underneath a fallen tree. The paddler was trapped between the canoe and the tree without room to breathe. When we arrived the rescue workers were attempting to retrieve the body.
This incident made a striking impression on Sam Wood. Perhaps more than it made on Mike, his son, or myself. But then again, this incident has never escaped my memory. Perhaps because of the loss of life or perhaps because of Mr. Wood’s reaction to the loss of life. We stood in the rain until Sam said, “It’s time we get off this river.”
As I think about my own loss of hearing and recall this story along with Sam’s girls’ recollections of “Stepped in What” I can’t help but recall this wonderful man and how he valued life and youth.
So here’s to Sam Wood, to float trips, and all the things he taught us -value life and be safe. “Stepped in what?’