Daddy Shaw had taken the boys down to the river before. And he had given his sons stern instructions to never come there on their own.
But this day was hot. And the call of friends and cool water was too enticing to ignore. So Bud and Jim found themselves following the tracks toward the river just to check things out.
The narrow gauge rail line that served Callaway Mills and its little mill community, Milstead, was aptly named. It only traveled the three miles to and from Conyers. It traveled narrow rails. And it had a little engine. It may have been the inspiration for the Little Engine That Could. It was a dinky lil' train. But it hauled huge loads of cotton to the mill and huge loads of finished cloth away to waiting bigger engines in Conyers.
That day Hub Doyle (the elder Hub) was at the engine. Seeing Grady's boys headed toward the river he hollered that he would tell their Daddy what they were up to. Folks looked out for each other's kids in that close knit little town and everybody knew the barber with the mischievous boys (eventually five of them). Bud and Jim were caught.
"We better head home!" shouted Bud as he slipped and struggled by sycamore root up the muddy red clay bank in the now pelting rain. Hearing no reply he looked back to see his little brother stuggling against the current and getting nowhere in a hurry. Charles dove back into the swift water, grabbed Jim by the neck, and awkwardly dog-paddled toward the bank. He and the sputtering Jim managed to hoist themselves up the bank, race to their respective trees, and climb into their overalls just as a blitzkrieg of lightning split a tulip poplar that crashed with additional thunder directly between the two boys.
Scrambling through the tangled branches Jim grabbed his brother's hand and they scurried home, happy to be alive and willing to accept whatever punishment awaited them.
The boys had had their share of well-deserved whalings. But this time Daddy Shaw perceived that a lesson had been learned and took a pass on any further discipline. Jim and Bud wouldn't soon chance an illegal dip in the Yellow River. That particular sin had been washed away by a baptism of water and fire that they would never forget.
James with their youngest brother, Jack, near the scene of the crime.