© Patricia Bour-Schilla
© Patricia Bour-Schilla

As a forbidden summer activity, we enjoyed swimming at the Ford
Bridge over the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and Saint
Paul. We would leave our clothes at the base of one of the columns
on the Minneapolis side, crawl up on the concrete arches until we
were over the deep water, and then dive or jump into the river.
We didn’t know it was illegal or prohibited because there were no
signs. We did know, however, that it was not proper to run around
outside naked. One afternoon in July we were diving from the
arches into the river. When we were all up on the arches, a police
car pulled up under the bridge.

“Hey, you guys, come here,” yelled a policeman as he got out of
the police car. He probably wanted to tell us something that we
didn’t want to hear, so we started up the arch toward the Saint
Paul side of the river. The other policeman got out and they both
got up on the bridge arches.

“Hey, you guys, get back here.”
The police, knowing the third bridge column stood in the water
on the Saint Paul side, thought they had us trapped. We, knowing
that there was a rope to swing to shore with, kept running over the
arches. All ten of us, without a stitch of clothes on, swung on the
rope one by one, reached the bank, tied the rope to a pipe, scrambled
up the bank to the bridge roadway, sprinted across the 1,500-
foot bridge, ran down the hill on the Minneapolis side, got to the
police car, and then let the air out of two tires. Then we put on our
clothes and strolled home.

Vernon Holmberg made sculpture for thirty-four years, funding his work by employment with Univac, Sperry, and Unisys. He wrote fiction and published one novel, Mulcahey’s Meatheads, created small movies, and worked as a technical writer for the military-industrial complex. Vernon died in 2007.