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From the Mouth of the River

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Photo by Chris Elmore Photo by Chris Elmore

Taking the waters

“The taking of the waters,” is a saying quite familiar in the Midwest and southern states, especially in the early days when people used to seek out hot springs and mineral baths whose make up of hot sulfur water would mysteriously bubble up from the ground and form into pools. It was believed that bathing in this water would cure most ailments. Just a few days soaking in this hot water and you would feel like a new person and smell like rotten eggs, and as always with any medication, if it tastes bad and smells bad it’s got to be good for you.  

Leave it to American ingenuity to figure out that people would pay for the privilege. And besides, if we gotta pay for it, it’s gotta be worth it. The fact it was free to start with  seemed to go over their heads.  

Of course, hard working people always had sore muscles and stiff joints and soaking in hot mineral water for a few days would make anyone feel better, but drinking this stuff was a whole other thing.  

A lady friend of mine familiar with the statement of, ”taking of the waters” and a long-time bather her own self reminded me just the other day of this one time cure of all ailments by the “taking of the waters.” It seems this all started back before Indians had casinos so their medicine man would send there ailing warriors, crippled and sick to take of the waters, by telling of the great spirits that bubble to the surface, while releasing green and yellow gasses that would take away their afflictions. Of course, the price he would charge was heavy, maybe a horse or two, a young bride, or a woman who could cook and chew the fat from hides, if she still had teeth. 

When the white man found out about these healing waters they soon traded the Indians out of their secret medicine ponds by giving the Indian the white man’s medicine, AKA “white lightning.” It took all the pain away until the effects wore off, then beat your head like a drum.  

Even here in the Northwest there’s several places to “take of the waters.” There’s just something about soaking in a hot pool deep enough to get submerged in that’s comforting, unlike most bathtubs where you only get half of your body under water at a time. Of course, it’s the part of the body that needs soaking the worst, which brings up another subject: When “taking of the waters,” one has to remember, you’re now bathing with a tub or pool full of like-minded people who have sicknesses you don’t know about, even lesions, as well as open sores as I witnessed in a well advertised hot springs just up in Canada.  

In the South where I grew up, taking of the waters is almost a religious thing. People believe it can cure almost anything. Older, hard-working farmers with arthritis, lumbago, colds, flu, mental fatigue or just plain wore out will “take of the waters,” or “take the cure” as they say. 

Drinking of these waters seams to be just as important as soaking in them. People will bring all the containers they have at home to carry water back to drink a small glass each day for as long as it lasts and if someone they know is traveling to the hot springs, they will send jugs to be filled.  

These man-made large stone pools are being filed by overflowing smaller pools that are closer to the source and hotter; bubbling fountains everywhere to drink from. I always wondered if that water was pumped from the pools or from its own source. 

Schools would take busloads of kids there on spring break for a day of swimming in warm, clear water. You see, most of us kids swam in muddy creeks and clear water was a novelty for us. In fact, our drinking water at home wasn’t that clear. But the best part was, we got to swim with the girls, and to see parts we as boys were unfamiliar with. 

Nowadays people with means can have a hot tub cooking on the deck and can take a plunge whenever they get the notion and like most toys, as soon as the newness wears off you just have an expensive rat and mosquito trap with an occasional drowned cat or coon in it.  

With all of the above being said and brought to your attention I have come up with a money-making scheme you might be interested in. As you know, the job market has taken it in the shorts and there is not much for investment nowadays; even Chipmunk Falls is down to selling rocks to Californians. 

SO, here’s the deal: We will apply for a grant and use matching funds as an investment in penny stocks from all who have a piggy bank. We will haul rock from Chipmunk Falls over to Hanford, Washington and build a hotel/motel combo with huge swimming pools and hot tubs, campgrounds with hookups etc, etc. We can siphon hot nuclear water free from the plant for people to soak in and drink as a cure for cancer. We can dilute it with river water depending on how severe their cancer is. Now we have a whole new industry with an ever-growing line of clientele just dying to take the cure. We will hold an investment meeting down at the old watering hole, date and time to be set later. I got twelve dollars to buy beer or invest with: Chemo-savy?

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Author info

Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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humor, water, hot springs, taking the waters

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