SI Vault
Grady James Robinson
June 18, 1979
I peered down through the willow leaves into the white and green water of Jackass Junction, concentrating, psyching myself, gaining courage to execute a dive that no other sane human would dare attempt. This performance, I was convinced, would live forever in the minds of those who watched. I was known all over Sebastian County as the wildest tree diver ever to launch from a swaying limb.
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June 18, 1979

For A Moment, A Once-in-a-lifetime Dive Seemed The Last-of-a-lifetime

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David, my own brother, had performed the famous cherry-bomb dive, a real crowd pleaser. He jumped from the tree, whistling through his teeth on the way down, then he grabbed his knee and hugged it up to his chest just before he hit the water. Twweeeeeee ker-BOOM! Water shot high into the air. It was majestic and impressive.

My main competition, however, was from my old friend and companion, Joe Staddford, a diminutive, but extremely fast, second baseman on the Little League team. Joe's number was called the cow-pasture-sprint-leap-over-the-barbed-wire-fence-head-first-special. Truly a magnificent expression of adolescent creativity, coupled with raw nerve and just a dash of sheer idiocy. The kid was fast. He backed off out through the pasture of the Circle L Ranch and, after a deep breath, began the sprint. Dodging rocks, stickers, stumps and fresh cow piles, he approached the fence and dived through the barbed wire with reckless abandon. He then crashed through the thick bushes at the water's edge and tumbled into the water.

I knew that it would be almost impossible to top that number. In order to win the diving prize, a sack of Hershey bars and two Snickers, I'd have to come up with a real showstopper. I had been standing there almost 20 minutes. The sun was setting and the white-faced Herefords were moving slowly toward the pasture gate.

"O.K., this is it," I yelled again. "You ready, Billy Joe? You ready to throw?"


"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure," he screamed. "Now go, will ya."

"Here goes!"

I looked once again at the water. It was like concrete if you landed just wrong. I jumped.

I began the never-before-attempted forward-flip-catch-Snicker-in-midair-and-eat-it-before-you-hit-the-water dive. It was my moment in time. In all of Sebastian County and the universe, I was on center stage. I forced my head forward, anticipating the proper momentum. I knew I'd have to get the flip over with as quickly as possible so as to concentrate on the Snicker that would come at me like a chocolate meteor.

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