Down by the river


I grew up around water. When I was a kid, there was a little creek running through our back yard. I spent countless hours back there catching crawdads, salamanders, and minnows. I only had to watch out for two things: snakes and glass. While I was never bitten by a snake, I did gash my big toe open once thanks to an idiot who decided to break a bottle. Who knows? Maybe I was that idiot. I hope not. If it was me, I learned a lesson with respect to our waterways. 

In recent weeks, I’ve been down to the Tallapoosa River here in East Alabama quite a few times. I’ve enjoyed its beauty and tranquility. It’s rather wide in some places, but there are also places where one can literally walk all the way across the river, and it’s just a mile or two from where my mom and dad grew up.

They spent a lot of time on that river, and I plan on doing the same in the very near future. My dad and some of his friends once caught a 76-pound yellow catfish. I once caught a 2-pound catfish not too far away at my Uncle Curwood’s catfish pond, so I can kind of relate, give or take 74 pounds or so. 

According to legend, one of my grandads used to skinny-dip down there. First of all, I can’t imagine my grandad swimming, period, and secondly, I sure as heck don’t want to imagine him swimming naked. 

Another distant cousin told me of his childhood river memories with his grandpa. He described to me how his pawpaw would slip off his shoe and fill it with water…and they’d drink out of it, which got him to giggling, but I could tell it was a special memory. 

I’m just thankful I never had to drink from either of my grandad’s shoes and am even more grateful for never having swam with them naked. 

I can’t wait to fish in the river, though. I fished it a few times when I was knee high to a grasshopper. We’d use just about anything we could find for bait, including grasshoppers, crickets, and, of course, worms. Maybe I’ll catch my own 76-pound yellow cat one day. Even if I never catch a thing, there’s just something special about being down by the river, or better yet, on the river.

One day, I hope to have a canoe or two, so I can make frequent trips down the river with family and friends. With the changes within each season, the water level, the wildlife, and nature in general, I simply can’t imagine it ever looking the same from one trip to the next. Every bend will bring excitement.

The best things in life are free. Rivers are yet another example of God’s beautiful creations. I look forward to making memories with my loved ones on the Tallapoosa. If you ever want to hang out with us down by the river, you’re more than welcome, and I promise to have bottled water. I may even wear a swimsuit. 

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at For more information, please visit