By Bunky Garonzik
New Braunfels, Texas1977…
Inspired by the movie Deliverance, a group of hard core Jody alumni adventure seekers decided to try our hand at white water canoeing. The twelve of us pitched a few tents, drug out a few coat hangers and hot dogs, and I made a pot of my world famous Chili. For you land lubbers out there, you should know that river rapids are classified from 1 to 5 with 5 being the most dangerous. That year, the river was about a Category 2. The next year, in addition to more Jodies, a few brothers-in-law and a few neighbors joined the group. There were 33 obnoxious guys, with McBee heading the list.
As the crowd grew, the food got better, the river got faster, the tents gave way to some motor homes, and we even allowed a lawyer or two. By year number three, we got event hats, T-shirts, and participation certificates. The numbers grew. Awards were given for Best Joke, Best Hat, Best Cliff Dive, Best Camper, Best Meal, and the coveted River Rash Award. The opening hand for this award was blood or a broken bone. Points were added for stitches. In one case, a veterinarian canoeist on the trip administered the stitches. The stitches were later removed in his office while sitting next to a German Shepherd. 8 x 10 color photos of the group were taken and mailed to the participants in a plain brown envelope. The group reached a body count of about 150 guys. The river reached a Category 5.
Far too many of the guys competed for the River Rash Award. Floyd Wine lapped the competition when he did a double off the 80-foot cliff dive with streamers soaked in kerosene flaming off his legs. Conquering a Cat 5 with no KIA, will bring a group together like a bunch of guys sharing a foxhole during a firefight. We were bullet proof and invisible.
We were clearly out of control! The energy and anticipation for the river trip began ramping up immediately after we returned from the previous trip. Scantly clad girls showed up at our camp sight looking for a souvenir T-shirt, a gourmet meal, or a spot at the Joke-Off and the awards ceremony. Divorces were filed. Children were swept off the street and kept indoors. The cops circled our camp sight at night. Our annual visit to the area created a Condition Orange posting in Comel County.
The group photograph was published in Playboy Magazine. Why Playboy? To answer that question, you need to look up the February 1984 edition. While McBee and I were the only ones to make all fifteen trips, guys like Rudd, Dulaney, Brazeil, Thompson, McEwan, Mike Ellis, Campos, Klemme, Pink, Reyes, Closner and Wine all had double-digit participation.
By 1992, the fifteen years as well as the river had run its course for me. (S-3 was never my true passion). Some of our kids who were three years old when we started, were now 18, and made this last trip. My curly black hair and beard gave way to a shiny spot and an additional 20 pounds. Liability and lawsuits crossed my mind for the first time.
However, for the Jodies and all the other members of the group, these canoeing trips will be forever etched in our memory. It is amazing to discover what happens when you dump the Rolexes, the BMWs, and the monogrammed shirts and issue the bankers, the truck drivers, the school teachers and the judges a T-shirt and a ball cap. Pretension is eliminated. Equality in its purest state is achieved. Peace, tranquility, and understanding Nature become a reality. Male bonding at the highest level. Well, forget the peace and tranquility part.