The Swamp Road Chronicles

"Simple Gifts"

Dear Sirs,

I have a story that might involve Swamp Road Sally, I'm not sure. Let me tell you the facts and then you can judge for yourself. I was a teacher at the Kirkersville Elementary. I live almost exactly 2 miles from Swamp Road. I like to run and running on Swamp Road is a great experience, lots of wildlife, animals, flowers, insects there's always a breeze. There's almost no traffic on Swamp Road and so it's safer than most roads out here in the country.

 

My run is 8 miles in length, I run to Swamp Road, down it to Palmer Road, west to State Route 158 then north again to State Route 40. I'm not as young as I once was and so at the half-way point I take a little break. There is a small concrete bridge on Swamp Road that makes a great place to sit and rest a while. One day, as I was resting on the bridge, I noticed a small sort of alcove where a piece of concrete had been gouged out- probably by a snowplow. In that alcove I could see something small and glassy. I pulled it out and inspected it. It was a small, very beautiful and beautifully-crafted arrowhead. It was made of Flint Ridge flint, very colorful, with a naturally-occurring swirly design. Native American and thousands of years old, probably from the Adena Culture, and still very sharp. A real treasure.

 

I thought some kid might have left it there for safe-keeping and he or she might come back for it, so, I put it back.

It was during summer vacation, so I was able to run nearly every day; I could see the arrowhead when I rested; after about 2 weeks, I decided it was lost and I took it home with me.

 

The next day when I stopped on the bridge I glanced at the alcove and there was something else there. I found a 1912 Silver dime in excellent shape. Again, a real treasure, again, I left it there for 2 weeks and then claimed it for my own. The third item I found was a thin, one-inch long, oval-shaped piece of ivory. I don't know if the ivory was from an elephant, walrus, whale or what. It was yellow with age and it had a design carved into its flat surface of a whale spouting into the air with his tail raised high. A very dramatic scene. That kind of carving on ivory is called 'scrimshaw' and it was a common practice for sailors to make them on long voyages. A wonderful artifact from a bye-gone era. How it made it to Pidgeon Swamp is a real mystery.

 

Obviously, another mystery was: who was leaving the small, but wonderful, simple gifts? My resting place was not visible from any of the distant farms, so I don't think anyone could see me sitting there. I mentioned my finds to a neighbor, he knows the history of the area quite well. He told me all about the legend of Swamp Road Sally and he suggested that, perhaps, Sally had left them for me. Maybe she liked me and wanted to be friends. He was kidding, I think. I'm sure Sally is a nice girl and she certainly has "spirit" but I'm engaged, so not available.

 

The very day that school resumed, I received a call from a hospital in Grand Rapids where I grew up and where my mom still lived. Mom had suffered a stroke and was in stable condition but very ill. They said she would be unable to care for herself once she was released. I took a three-month leave of absence from my job and flew to Michigan to be with my mother and to care for her when she was released. Mom only lived two months after her stroke and I returned to my teaching job after her passing.

 

I guess Sally gave up on me, because when I was able to resume running I found no more small gifts in the alcove.

Had it really been Sally leaving me all of those gifts? No way to know, I kind of hope it was.

I've left her a note, but I can see that it remains undisturbed. I'm sorry if she felt I abandoned her.

 

Submitted by Clayton Loudermilk 6-3-23 Kirkersville, Ohio


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