There are times when I love reading personal essays, narratives, and memoirs. The peek into someone’s past allows me to see that person in a new light. That’s what Tucked Away in a Discolored Scrapbook did for me. The personal narratives and poetry contained within the pages of this book showed me things about my friend, S.V. Farnsworth that I never knew.
Farnsworth has agreed to share one of her stories with you here on Ozarks Maven today. She graciously allowed me to choose the story. Something most people don’t know about us is that Farnsworth and I attended the same college and even worked together at a local grocery store when we were young women.
I chose “Crocodile Style” because I actually remember when the Missouri Southern State College Police Academy would let students repel down their wall. I never had the courage to do so, but I always wanted to try it. I was far more skittish in my youth than I am today, and I regret missing this particular college experience. I’m happy my friend suffered no such inhibitions.
Here’s what the author herself had to say about this piece:
Hi, this is S.V. Farnsworth, the author of Tucked Away in a Discolored Scrapbook. It’s wonderful to be invited to share a short story with you today. “Crocodile Style” is about an adventurous day I had when I was a teenager attending Missouri Southern State College. Now it’s a university, so that dates me a bit. Anyway, I hope it brings a toothy grin to your face.
Unexpected stories with the details of life’s emotions written by an award-winning author who speaks to your soul.
One to five minute reads that may last a lifetime in your heart and mind.
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Please enjoy “Crocodile Style” with S.V. Farnsworth’s blessing.
By S.V. Farnsworth
I loved climbing rocks as a kid, and rappelling always appealed to me. My first opportunity to try it arose in 1994 at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, Missouri. Walking to the dorms after the last day of class in May on a sunny afternoon, I noticed students streaming across the grass to the police academy tower and followed after them.
Most people stood around watching a couple of others learn to rappel. However, I tossed my backpack in the dust at the bottom and hiked the one-sided tower’s open, wooden staircase. The activity was free as part of a campus-wide summer break and commencement celebration. It was a perfect way for me to unwind after a stressful year.
At the top of the tower, the instructor helped me into the climbing harness. He clipped me to the line with a locking carabiner. Then, he backed me to the edge of the platform.
“Hold the rope here and here.” He showed me where, then yelled to the man holding my rope at the bottom, “On belay!”
As I looked down, the four-story tower seemed to grow tenfold taller.
“On rappel!” The tiny man at the bottom cupped his hands around his mouth like a megaphone.
“Now ease backward until you’re perpendicular to the planks on the wall.” The instructor caught my eye and held my attention. “Lean back, a little more, good, now let some rope go, good. Just sit down, more, a bit more. See! Now you’re going to jump as you loosen your grip on the rope and hop to the bottom.”
My knees trembled, but his gaze remained steady. Because of his easy smile, I jumped. It was an absolute thrill to conquer my newly formed adult inhibitions. I felt as free as a kid again and landed on my feet in the dirt without a splinter or a scrape.
“Good job, kid. Just like a pro,” said the man on belay. He clapped me on the shoulder and then helped me out of the harness. “You going again?”
“Yes, sir!” I hiked the tower and rappelled twice more without a second thought.
On my fourth time at the top, the instructor asked me, “Want to go Aussie style?”
“Australian rappel is when you go down the wall facing forward.”
My eyebrows shot upward as my smile brightened, “Absolutely!”
The world stretched before me toward the lush, green horizon. I held the rope at my hip and leaned over the tower platform. Adjusting my footing until the soles of my sneakers rested on the top plank of the police tower, I enjoyed the anticipation.
Releasing some rope, I jumped until I landed squarely with both feet on the ground. The man on belay’s grin couldn’t have been bigger. He helped me unhook, and I hiked the zig-zag stairwell again.
The instructor flashed me a toothy expression of approval. “All right, now that you’ve gone down the wall a few times, are you ready to go off an open side? Aussie style?”
I laughed as I leaned over to look off one of the three sides without any wooden planks forming a wall. “You bet!”
“You do this, and I’m going to have to call you Crocodile.”
I beamed with enthusiasm at the reference to the fearless, Australian hero in a popular movie called Crocodile Dundee. So, I belted the harness on over my hip-hugging Levis, clipped on the line, yelled “On belay!”, leaned out, and leaped into the air.
S.V. Farnsworth is a woman of character and spirit that kindred souls are delighted to call a friend.
Find more of her books at http://svfarnsworthauthor.com
Radio interview with Shannon Bruffet on KKOW on Friday, April 29th at around 8 am. Book Signing at ABC Books in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday, April 30th from 10 am to 2 pm. TV interview with Howie Nunnelly on Good Morning Four States on May 2nd, at around 6 am. Book Signing at Always Buying Books in Joplin, Missouri on Saturday, May 7th from 1 to 3 pm.
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