You may believe this little tale or mot. I don’t particularly care one way
or the other BUT if you pay attention you just might learn a valuable
Lesson in what some people call courage but is in reality just plain old
fashion common sense.
Everyone in North Central Florida, for at least five miles around, knew that the little creek called by local ‘Crooked Crick’, at high water from the rains north of us would develop pockets of quicksand. Now Quicksand is nothing more than a mixture of fine grain material (such s sand, silt or clay), and water. It’s nothing to be feared if you pay attention to what I am about to tell you.
Crooked Crick was a favored place to play for the children from the nearby farms. Gracie in particular loved the little ‘Crick’. She spent all the time she could making water wheels, twig rafts, or leaf canoes, following them down stream as it went towards the Gulf.
Her name was Josie Grace but everyone knew her as ‘Gracie’. The name suited her well. Now at thirteen she played ball with the best of the boys, make a Chocolate cream pie that you wouldn’t want to share with anyone, and hit a squirrel at the top of an eighty foot loblolly pine.
On the day we’re discussing she wasn’t doing anything but sitting with her feet in the water and throwing leaf canoes in the water and watch them tumbling in the rapids.
She was suddenly startled by a man’s voice screaming for help. She jumped up and ran up the creek in the direction of the screaming. In less than a hundred and fifty feet she found a man on the other side of the creek and he had found the quicksand. He was in up to his waist, waving a shotgun over his head, and screaming for help for all he was worth. She tried to get him to quiet down but he only screamed louder. Finally she yelled as loud as she could. “If you’ll shut the hell up for two minutes I can get you out of there. First throw that shotgun up on the bank!” Did I tell you he was stupid? Well he was He threw the gun oh the ban k and it went off. As I said, stupid is trying to cross a creek with a shotgun cocked and ready to fire. Lucky for Gracie the load was number seven bird instead of double naught buck. One of the shot caught her in her right calf. She jumped around a little then went back to work. “You can float on quick sand. Lean as far this way and grab this limb. Don’t use your legs or try kicking. Lay flat as you can and I can pull you out.” And she gradually got him to where his knees were on the bottom so she threw the limb aside and finished pulling him to the bank. Gracie heard someone running through the brush and turned to see her neighbor. He had been plowing close by and came running when he heard the shot.
Well when he saw Gracie bleeding he thought the man had shot her and he blew his top. The man was sitting blubbering about almost dying when the farmer jerked him up by his collar, balled up a very large fist and was prepared to introduce it to that fellow’s jaw when Gracie stopped him. When she Had told her neighbor how it happened he cooled down and said he would run and get his old truck because she definitely needed to get to the hospital. They had stopped the bleeding with the stranger’s handkerchief so the three rode to the little hospital in town. .
As soon as they got to the hospital someone called the sheriff and he showed up ready to arrest someone. So Gracie had to tell the story to an even larger audience of two more doctors and six or eight nurses. In an hour It was all over town and the next day all over the county, thanks to the little weekly paper that came out that day.
In two weeks it was old news. No one was even bothering to ask Gracie how she was getting on. A few months later someone from the Governor’s office happened to hear the story and called the little weekly paper. He then took a ride to see for himself what the story was all about. Now you may wonder, and rightly so, why some politician from the capital would be interested? The answer is quite simple. He was the Governor’s PR man. Every year the Governor awarded Medals to citizens who had saved another’s life. Most were policemen, firemen, power linemen, and the occasional private citizen. But this story was made for PR. The Governor went to the recipient’s church on a Sunday and made the presentation after the service followed by photos.
The majority of the ceremonies were held in large churches where seating wasn’t a problem but the small country church which Gracie’s family attended could seat maybe a hundred. Chairs were brought from the funeral home and stacked in the vestibule for about fifty more.
On the morning of the presentation it looked as if the whole county showed up at the little Baptist church. There were Methodist, Pentecostals Holiness, and a smattering of Catholics. The grounds were covered with vehicles, including the big, shiny black Governor’s limousine.
The Governor and his box holder as well as all the Ministers present were seated up on the dais. Gracie’s family had been seated in the front pew. The church minister said the invocation and welcomed everyone to the ceremonies and then introduced the Governor. He spoke about sacrifices people make but seldom to save another life. He then said that today they celebrated the life not the sacrifice, the courage of the one that had saved that life. He turned and the box holder jumped up and handed him a framed document. The Governor then read of Gracie’s bravery in saving the man’s life. He at last called Gracie up on the dais. The box holder jumped up again and held the open box out to the Governor who took out a chain with a thin flat disk attached. He told Gracie how proud he was of her and proud to be putting this medal around her neck.
He turned to the audience and began to lead everyone in applauding. He held out his hand to signal quiet and asked Gracie if she had anything to say.
“Well, I don’t rightly know what to say except that I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Everybody from around here knows how to get out of quicksand if thay’re dumb enough to get in it in the first place.” She thanked the Governor for the pretty necklace and the picture frame. She said she had a photograph of Conway Twitty that would fit it perfectly.
She was right about Conway. He may be gone now but he’s still hangs on a certain bed room wall to this day covering the Governor’ proclamation. Maybe one day one of Gracie’s great grandchildren will accidently break the frame and they will all find out about ‘Quicksand Gracie’.
We’ve come to the end of this tale and truth or not I stickin to it.