Naked Swimmers on a Slow Sports Day




Maybe the guy who was arrested or hospitalized for nude swimming in the gentle waters of Hermann Park in Houston today thought the sign read “Enjoy the genital waters of Hermann Park this summer!” – Or maybe he was just the long-awaited answer we’ve been looking for since we were old enough to experience those famous last words from an abandoning or rejecting female: “Go jump in the lake!” My thoughts from the git-go were always “Now who actually would do that – especially on the heels of a crushing emotional rejection?” Now maybe we know. It was the guy who showed up swimming nude at Hermann Park today. He was there for quite a while too – until the police went out in a boat, grabbed him by his arms, took him off to the lakeside bank where we was then cuffed, covered with a towel, and hauled off to Ben Taub Hospital for the predictable psychiatric examination.

These may be only the first parts of our summer dog days in hot and humid Houston, but today’s story was certainly more entertaining than the old “man bites dog” irony that the media looks invariably for as our published relief from the same old same old.

The naked swimmer event today also awakened an ancient memory that we long ago kids spread around Pecan Park fairly completely nearing Christmas Day in 1950.  Not sure how it got started, but we built on the story about Santa Claus that caused such anxiety among our younger brothers and sisters that they started fearing that Santa might not even make it to Houston in 1950, let alone get to the East End and our little Pecan Park neighborhood in our greatest American city.

We spread the rumor that Santa Claus had become hooked on nude ice skating on the frozen lake that adjoined his North Pole Home and Christmas Toy Workshop. In fact, we said that Santa was out there skating on the lake from dawn to dusk, only coming home three times a day for his three servings of green peas – a food that he also relished now – almost as much as he loved nude ice skating. He had gotten to the point, we stressed, in which creamy green peas were all Santa wanted – and Mrs. Claus made sure that he never ran out of a three times a day serving.

Then, one day, my eight year old younger brother, Johnny, came up to me on the sandlot. He said he no longer wanted to catch for the Pecan Park Eagles.

“Why not, Johnny?” I asked.

“Because I’m too sad to catch,” Johnny answered, pouting lower lip and all.

“What are you sad about?” I asked, as I placed my right hand on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eye.”

“I’m sad,” he said, “because of that story you have been telling about Santa skating naked on that lake all the time and only coming inside to eat green peas three times a day before dark. I’m sad because that means he’s not working to get all the toys ready for everybody’s Christmas. And even if he is working some at night, he’s probably going to catch a bad cold skating around that frozen lake at the North Pole with no clothes on all day. – I would never do what’s he’s doing, but I know what would happen to me if I did what he was doing. I’d catch the terriblest cold of my life. – And that’s what’s going to happen to Santa. There isn’t going to be a Christmas this year, Billy. Santa is either going to be short on toys, or else, too sick to deliver what he’s got. And I just hate the thought of what he’s doing – even the part about only eating green peas. – That would be enough to make me sick as a dog. I just hate to see us missing Christmas over something as stupid as this!”

I felt terrible. My four years younger brother Johnny was fighting back tears. He might have cried at home, but he wouldn’t dare cry here. The Pecan Park Eagles never cried on the turf that we alone had christened as Eagle Field just this past wonderful summer of 1950. I had to do something to make it OK, if I could.

“Johnny,” I said in a very strident upbeat tone as I also used both my hands to shake both his shoulders as I also smiled and gazed hard into his eyes. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. Santa’s elves put an end to their boss’s nonsense and Santa’s now well, back into his red and white suit, no longer skating at all, back to eating good food like chicken fried steak, macaroni and cheese, and cookies and milk. No more green peas for Santa, no more naked skating, and no more danger of the really bad cold. He sure could have gotten one from one part in the the elves successful plan to wake him up to what he was doing, but he didn’t get sick after all. He just got well from his bad behavior. And now he’s back to being his good old “HO-HO-HO” self again!

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner, Billy”

“I was going to tell you a few minutes ago, Johnny, but you were too upset to hear me. Hey, I just found out myself today. Remember, Christmas is important to me too, you know, brother? You know?”

“Yeah, I know, Billy. – I just wish that sometimes I could be the first one to get the good news first around here, brother. You know what I mean?”

“Anyway, what happened? – How did the elves get Santa Claus back on track to being his old merry self?”

“They were very smart, Johnny!” I said. “The elves came up with a plan to take advantage of Santa’s 4:00 PM feeding time because they knew that particular feeding spot was his worst food craving time in the day. They also knew that Santa needed something to shock him into being so cold – all at once – that he would never want to go naked outside on the lake – or anywhere near the North Pole – ever again!”

“So what did they do, Billy?”

“They waited near the part of the frozen lake that was nearest Santa’s usual skating path path to his meals. Then, around 3:45 PM, while Santa was skating at the far end of the long lake – and getting ready to start speed skating home – four of the elves hurried out onto the lake and quickly cut a four feet in diameter circle in the ice. They knew that, if they could get Santa to fall into that near freezing water, he would never go nude skating at the North Pole again. – And they also understood that, if they also could make his fall into the icy water associated in his mind with green peas, that he might even swear off those little green veggie boogers too and return to healthy eating habits.”

“I sort of get it, Billy, but how did the elves make it all come together and work – as it must have done – from what you’ve said?”

“Well, I’m going to tell you right here and now, Johnny, with no frills. And No fibbing. – After they cut the ice gap to the chilling waters beneath, they spread green peas all around that circle of open freezing water. They did that because they knew the presence of those green peas would stop old Santa dead in his skating tracks. He would have to grab one or two peas to tide him over until he got in the house for a regular full bowl of them.”

“I still don’t get it, Billy! – How did the peas cause Santa to fall into the freezing water?”

“Easy, Johnny,” I said, “when Santa came over to take a pea, one of the elves crept up from behind and kicked him in the ice hole!”

The rest is history. And Johnny got to see Christmas happen in 1950 as he needed it to be. Santa never left a lot of toys in Pecan Park back then, but that’s OK. It was just important to the little kids to know that he was thinking about them. And sometimes big brothers have to try and make up for the things they mess up in the minds of their little brothers.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas




One Response to “Naked Swimmers on a Slow Sports Day”

  1. JO HALE Says:

    HO! HO! HO! very funny – also one – Boo! Hiss! Christmas in July.
    Bill – you always make me smile…………. jo

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