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September 19, 2021

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Bluffton Anthology: Robert Kreider's thoughts on Riley Creek

"With feeling of endearment, we called it the crick"

This is a portion of an essay by Robert Kreider on his thoughts on Riley Creek, as he grew up in Bluffton in the 1930s. His entire essay is published in Bluffton Anthology. For more information about the book click here.

1 – When we moved to Bluffton our lot on Spring Street ran down to Little Riley Creek; three Sundays straight my younger brother Gerald slide into the creek; careful, older brother me was enviously amused.

2 – With feeling of endearment, we called it the crick.

5 – The Big Riley stunk with raw waste the Page Dairy emptied into the stream – until the town banned such sewage; fish and crabs again had breathing room.

6 – By a crumbling stone fence up Little Riley Creek, Karl and I trapped for muskrats, caught two, skinned them and mailed their pelts to Sears Roebuck for income of 75 cents.

7 – On an island in a pasture along Little Riley was a flat limestone boulder crisscrossed with lines we named Checkerboard Rock and a sandy island, Checkerboard Island. Naming the territory, it was our land.

9 – After dark, a place of romance for college students – a foot bridge, Krehbiel Bridge, with its handrails of limbs renewed each year on Clean Up Day by college students. Sad, Krehbiel Bridge displaced by a college donor’s gift of modernity, resulting in a name change.

10 – Big Riley looping through town past the light plant quarry where in winter Mr. Hankish cut ice, Harmon Field, the town dump, Read-Rite Meter, the National Quarry, an abandoned brewery, the Buckeye and off into open farmland.

11 – A gang standing on the swinging bridge and contesting who could spit watermelon seeds the farthest.

12 – Gordon Alderfer telling how near that spot old Mr. Thut met long ago a Shawnee Indian who had walked from Oklahoma to see this land where he once camped.

13 – Sight of wild turkeys on the far side of the creek, this before farmers drenched the fields with DDT.

14 – Told of a tribe of gypsies camping along the creek for a day under a weeping willow tree, fashioning chairs and baskets from the willowy branches.

15 – Viewing with awe the mighty drama of flood time, the creek a quarter-mile wide, thick slabs of ice breaking up and ramming their way downstream – the gentle creek now an agent of violence.

16 – Meditating on the connectedness of water – flushing 10 the toilet, the water flowing down the Riley into the Blanchard River into the Maumee River into Lake Erie into the Niagara River into Lake Ontario and down the St. Lawrence into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and out into the Atlantic Ocean.

17 – What mystery of meaning lies in Bluffton being positioned along an old Indian trail – the streets running neither east or west, nor north or south. A town set askew.

19 – A few miles south of Bluffton, between Ada and Alger, a divide separating water flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and water flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

This is a sample of the content of "Bluffton Anthology - A creek runs through it." Copies are now available for $24.95 plus tax in Bluffton at:
• Roots by Strattons
• The Food Store
• The Black Lab
• Bluffton Senior Citizens Center
• The Dough Hook
• Polished
• Bluffton University bookstore - Marbeck Center
• In Ada at The Inn at ONU