“Ten Foot” by Neal Murphy

September 13, 2023 - I was just a little too young to visit this favorite swimming hole located on Ayish Bayou.  This little self-made recreation area was located approximately one-half mile north of the bridge spanning the bayou on Highway 21 west of the railroad tracks.

My older brother reports that “ten foot”, as it was called, was frequented by teen agers during the hot summer months from all around the town of San Augustine, Texas during the 1930s and 1940s.  Since I never swam in this pool of bayou water generated by the spill-way water from Bland Lake, I have to depend on stories that I have heard of certain events that occurred there.

Since most of the swimmers waited until they arrived at “ten foot” to put on their bathing suits, discarded clothes were favorite targets of pranksters.  Some were known to tie knots in the britches legs and shirt sleeves while the swimmers were having a great time.  On occasion a few brave boys would swim without anything on, so the hiding of their clothes became a major issue.

I am told that many teenaged girls also frequented “ten foot” to take part in the swimming activities.  As you would suspect, some boys would sneak up to the pool and hide the girl’s clothes in the bushes and wait for them to get out, which they refused to do.  This became another issue.

One brave young man, who will remain anonymous, came up with a brilliant plan to clear out the swimmers, clothed or unclothed.  One day he walked to “ten foot” with a basket in hand.  He found several teen girls in the water, some clothed and some not.  Of course when they saw the young man, they demanded that he leave.  He replied, “I’m not here to get you ladies out, I’m just going to feed the alligators who live in the water.”  As he was tossing bread into the waters, the girls screamed and exited the pool, just as they were, and in record time.  He became an instant hero to the guy pranksters, but not so popular with the girls.

Several years ago my brother and a couple of other older guys who were frequent swimmers in “ten foot”, attempted to locate the old swimming hole on the bayou.  Things change over time, and the undergrowth was so bad that they were unsuccessful in locating the spot.  Perhaps someone else would be able to do so and could take a few pictures of the ole swimming hole so popular years ago.