The Big Clean Up of Lueders, Texas

Back in earlier times before the environmental movement, small towns such as Lueders had no such thing as garbage pickup. Everyone had a 55 gallon drum sitting in their back yard to burn their trash in.

The burning took care of lots of things but, it did not get rid of the cans, jars and other non burnable items.

As a result, the barrels would fill up until there was no more room to burn trash and you had to get another barrel or find a place to dump the full one.

Some folks choose not put their cans and jars in the burn barrel but, throw them on the ground in the area where the barrel was located.

As a results there was trash, trash and more trash scattered hither to yonder all over town.

In my sophomore year of 1950/51, the City of Lueders, Texas made a deal with the Lueders Kids to clean up the whole complete town from one end to the other for the grand sum of $100.00.

I am not exactly sure how or who came up with the idea except I do know the kids of Lueders where wanting to do something about a better place to go swimming and the desire to have a nicer place for picnics.

How ever it came about, a deal was struck and we did haul off peoples trash and junk no matter were it was located, front yards, back yards, vacant lots, and behind every business and building in town.

We used our parents pickups, farm trucks and any vehicle we could get our hands on which would haul trash. I was using my Dad's 1947 Jeep which was his work car at the time.

On the days we were cleaning up we would have a force of 20 to 30 kids and 10 or so vehicles running all over town raking up, picking up and hauling the trash to the dump.

We even cleaned the ditches along side the roads. The name of the game was not to just pick up the garbage but, any junk or trash of any kind, found any place.

We were willing to do this to raise the money so we could have a better swimming place and fix up City Park on the river where the rock bathhouses are located.

Imagine that, The City was paying us $100.00 to clean up the city so we could spend it to fix up the City's Park. Sounds like a bunch of dumb kids to me.

Prior to 1951 the main swimming hole was a little south of the rock bath houses and it had a cable swing hanging in a tree. Here the river was about 4 feet deep.

Without adult supervision or permission of any kind to my knowledge we decided to move the swimming hole a little north of the bathhouses were another giant tree was located and make us a platform out into the water for a diving board.

The move was made because the water was about 5 feet deep or about a foot deeper then the southern swimming hole. This north location was fairly close to the Baptist Encampments south fence line.

The large tree also allowed us to have another cable swing to swing out over the river and drop off into the water.

To provide a platform for a diving board, we built a coffer dam out from the bank of the river and filled it with concrete.

Frederick Lieb, Class of 51 was older then most of us involved and kind of one of the leaders and he went up to Robert Sanders Garage and got 2 rear car springs which we embedded down into the concrete with about half the spring sticking up.

Between the springs, we ran a bar through the eyes in the end of the springs and set a 2 X 12 board across this bar and then somehow we tied the back of the board down and this was our diving board and the car springs coming half way out of the concrete on an angle was our means of making the board bounce.

I remember Frederick didn't get two springs alike and there was enough difference that to align the end of the springs up, one spring came out of the concrete further back then the other and this gave the board a crooked bounce and if you really jumped on it, it would throw you side ways. What was a darn good idea was ruined by not finding 2 springs alike. But, we still used it.

The 3 sided wooden box we built to contain the concrete stuck out into the river from the bank and since it was not water proof it contained water up to the same level as the river so we could not see what was happening to the concrete as we started pouring it into the box.

As I remember it, we had built this coffer dam up about 3 or 4 feet above water level and back into the bank. Seems like we cut the side of the bank out and back 3 or 4 feet.

In other words, the platform was 2/3 in the bank and 1/3 stuck out in the river.

I remember the platform being about 6 feet wide and 8 feet long and about 4 or 5 feet deep so I reckon it had about 2 or 3 feet of water in it but, the center of the river in this area was about 5 feet deep or at our age, up to our necks.

We attempted to seal the boards were they touched the bottom of the river by piling up dirt on the outside of the coffer dam or box we had built to hold the concrete pour. I recall my spending lots of time in the water working and building the box.

We started mixing and pouring concrete by the bucketful into this box we had made. AND, then after a whole heap of concrete, we thought surly this thing should have the concrete above water by now but, it never showed and we never could find were it was leaking from but, we decided it had to be going out the bottom and into the river.

I remember being in the river and I kept telling Frederick, the damn thing has to be leaking because we done dumped a truck load of concrete in here and nothing is showing inside.

However, I would go underwater and could not find any concrete on the outside of the box with my hands, either by feel or showing up on my hands.

Then we ran out of the sack cement we were using from Rockwell Bros. who had donated what was suppose to be enough to fill the thing except for the leak.

I remember going after more sack cement in my Dads old jeep. I don't think we ever found the leak but, when I got back Frederick said it's sealed now because they had dumped a whole heap of dirt on the outside around the box and seems like it was now staked up as high on the outside as was the water level of the river.

Finally, the concrete started filling up the box and we filled it plumb full and installed the car springs.

All the dirt piled up on the outside of the box had done the trick and this dirt had come from the next river bank up above the lower bank were the diving platform was being built.

Because of this we ended up starting out to widen the path and walk way and putting a row of large rocks along the path to hold the next higher bank back.

Young kids can move a lot of dirt with a shovel but, I remember telling Frederick we would never get to using the diving board if we were going to dig up the whole bank so digging the bank back and rock laying didn't go much further then a small area where we had removed the dirt to seal up the coffer dam.

Frederick had wanted to dig the bank back and make a rock lined path all the way back to the south bath house which was about 50 to 75 yards.

We overhauled the bathhouses, filling cracks and stuff and got some barrels and cut the tops out and painted them for trash.

We cleaned up the picnic area and repaired some tables.

In other words we cleaned up the whole complete park and even fixed the roads because I remember going with Frederick to borrow a Dump Truck and we hauled in several loads of fill dirt and gravel for the roads.

I don't remember doing it but, we probably got one of the adults to grade the roads with the city road grader.

In those days, if you needed your street graded in front of your house you just went up and got the city road grader and did it. Now of course not everybody could do this but, my Dad could and he went up one time and graded the road all the way from town to our house and he was having so much fun he just went ahead and graded the rest of the streets on our side of town that afternoon.

I don't recall the exact details but, about the time we were finishing things up, the city started trying to renege on the $100.00 deal for us cleaning up the city and by this time even though they donated part of the cement and some other stuff we had run up a pretty good bill at Rockwell Bros. Lumber. I don't recall were we got the boards to form up the coffer dam.

However, in the end it all worked out and for a time Lueders was probably the cleanest little city in Texas and us kids had a wonderful Old Swimming Hole in the Clear Fork of the Brazos.

Other memories remind me, the rock quarry down by the river railroad bridge had just been quarried out and was no longer being worked.

The city made arrangements to use this exhausted quarry for trash dumping and our clean up of the city was about the very first initial use of the Rock Pit.

I recall us dumping in the quarry and it was still clean and had several roads in and out and around in the bottom of the rock pit.

Incidentally Lueders used this quarry for many years afterwards as a dump ground.

On most all of my visits back home, I usually go to the park to reminisce of my childhood and although the diving board was long gone, for years and years the platform was always there.

However, by 1989 or 1991 the Platform had fallen over into the river. It was still visible but, was turned over on it's side out into the river.

Quite a little piece of concrete sitting in the Old Clear Fork and I helped put it there many many moons ago.

I won't apologize for 4 of the pictures being of me and some girls because after all that was part of my growing up in Lueders and the girls picked up as much Lueders trash as did the boys and also helped mix and pour the concrete.

All in All, great memories of a great childhood in a great little small town in Texas.

I'd like to live it all over again and not change a thing.

Shown below is GranPa's sister Iva on the right with one of her friends, Jannett McDuff and they are standing on a Diving Board at the Swimming Hole in The Lueders City Park on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. - Circa 1951/52

Photographs of the Clean Up may be seen by clicking on the Thumb Prints below.
Click on pictures to review in a larger format.
Photos taken in 2001 of the Rock Bathhouses may be viewed by Clicking:...   HERE
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