Monday, February 22, 2010

75 and Dam Handsome: Ebert Roger Heagy

Happy 75th birthday Grandpa!

Here's a little short memory for you that, in my mind, characterizes so much of what is good in my Grandpa Heagy.

Our family likes to visit Gibson Dam. It's beautiful and isolated and not too far from where I grew up. Grandpa and Grandma Heagy come often because they love being in the mountains. One time, I must have been in junior high or high school, our family was watching the fury of water at the base of the dam. Grandpa convinced me that it would be okay for us to actually walk underneath the enormous double jets of water that shot out hundreds of feet from the dam, creating the entire Sun River. The whitewater always terrified me, and the roar of the water shooting out of those two pipes was thunderous, but right under the spouts, the rocks were high enough out of the water that you could walk across them if you kept right next to the wall of the dam. CRAZY! Not only was it terrifying to be underneath that much fast-moving water--it could have taken my head plumb off if I stood up straight--but the rocks were slippery and wet and water and spray dripped down on you. So of course, we did it, and Grandpa came with us.

When we reached the other side there was a small rocky bank against a cliff wall. We waved at our family, looked around, might have stacked a few rocks into a little cairn to prove we were there, and then scrambled back under the jets. Well, when we got back, much to our surprise, we had company. Some men in uniforms were there to chew us out. Park service? Dam employees? I don't remember. But they chewed Grandpa out with a stern warning never to do that again.

I wasn't really afraid of those guys, after all, I had just defied death. So what I remember most of all was my Grandpa's face. So polite and respectful but still smiling with those white Hollywood teeth.
Somehow I suspect that there have been a few more rock cairns built by visitors on the far side of the dam since that day.

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