Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hundred and Two

I don't know at what age I began being able to name things - or understand the names of things. But when it came to rivers, the first one I learned was the Nodaway. When we went to town the big bridge we drove over crossed the Nodaway River. Then came the floods of '47 when we couldn't cross the bridge because the bridge, the highway and everything else was under water.

That same year I learned the name of a really big river - the Mississippi - when we crossed it to visit relatives in Quincy and Plainville, Illinois.

It was the fall of 1949 however when I began daily crossing a river (well, a creek, really) on the way to school -  the name of which totally perplexed me. Mom called it "The Hunderd and Two". (AKA, The One Hundred and Two). But how could that be the Hundred and Two when the real 102 was the creek down east in the cow pasture?
Mom explained that the waterway we waded in order to fetch the cows for the evening milking was one of the small rills that joined two others before running as one beneath the bridge we crossed on the way to school at Jasper # 2.
Not only that, it was also a part of (later I would learn the term, tributary) the river that everyone judged the amount of rainfall by - i.e. "The Hundred and Two is out of its banks North of Vogel's." That's how we knew we'd had a lot of rain.

Mom always said our little creek was one of the few rivers that flowed North. If you look at Section 22 and find the 'Ruth Lynam Trust' and then follow it back, you will see where it began on what was the Reichardt Brothers farm when I was a kid. (Mary Hoffman on this plat.) It flows north and then west to cross Ironwood Avenue underneath the bridge we crossed morning and night on our way to and from school.

It was little more than a ditch as it meandered west through 'the big pasture up north' which is where Dad's Hereford beef cattle usually were. There it joined the bigger 102 - the one that flooded north of Vogel's. (Section 15, Mary Smejdir)  Eventually this creek wandered on down West of Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour's. Which is why I got frustrated when I asked Mom the name of the river down there. (Section 31, Gary Mitchell) "The Hundred and Two" was her answer. "How can these creeks ALL be the 102?" I demanded. "And why are they called a number instead of a name?" Mom's best answer was, "I guess because there are one hundred and two of them."
I wanted our little creek to have its own name, not the same as all those others.

Eventually I understood that the One Hundred and Two River was comprised of three branches - the East, Middle and West Forks. Our portion was part of the West Fork. In the late 70's the kids and I lived on another tributary of the West Fork of the Hundred and Two when we lived in 'the little house'. (Although I mistakenly thought it was the East Fork at the time.) All three forks of the 102 join up in the area of Hopkins, MO then flow into the Platte which flows into the Missouri River.

Other explanations for the name of the river include that it was the 102nd river crossed by the Mormons on their migration from Nauvoo, IL to Salt Lake City, UT or that it was 102 miles from their previous encampment. Also that the three forks cross the western extension of the 'Sullivan Line' (Missouri-Iowa border) 102 miles from the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers near Kansas City which is the starting point for surveys in Western Missouri. I like Mom's answer the best of any. It really did seem like there were 102 One Hundred and Two's when I was a child.

Winnie the Pooh and his friends lived in the Hundred Acre Wood. Several incidents from the stories involved the river - playing Poohsticks and rescuing, at various times, Piglet, Roo and Eeyore from the waters. No where do I find the name of the stream that ran through the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne's book. Did Mom say it was The Hundred and Two when she read the story to us? 

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known." (Winnie the Pooh)

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