Forbidden fruit, unknown danger, exploration with friends, seeking adventure? What is the allure that seduces young men to not only take risks, but to invite friends to tag along in their pursuit?
Stories of the legendary Bender Lake were told while I was growing up. The lake was known for being so deep that its depth couldn’t be measured. Bender Lake was a favorite swimming hole of the teenage boys in the Humble area during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
All three of my brothers told of swimming in Bender Lake. However, not one of them explained to me how to get to the lake or invited me to tag along. There were no roads to the enticing lake. All who dared to enjoy a swim in the cool water had to follow trails through wooded acres. The older boys invited younger ones to accompany them on the journey to the lake. The ritual was passed down from generation to generation. As far as I know, no one made a map to aid in finding Bender Lake.
Through the years I have asked local residents about swimming in Bender Lake. One question I asked was if girls also swam in the lake. I was curious since my brothers never asked me to go with them. My assumption was that the guys were skinny-dipping which meant girls were not welcome. One of my friends said that a few girls swam in the lake, but she was not one of them.
Two of my friends who are older told me that their parents loaded them, their siblings, cousins and friends in the back of pickups and drove them to the lake for a swim. I wondered how that would be possible. According to the DAR book, “History of the Humble Area,” the lumber industry was predominant in the area from the middle 1800s until about 1949. Therefore, most of the trees had been cut down, and there were probably dirt roads to the lakes. However, the end of the lumber business would have allowed the forests to develop again.
Recently I asked my son, who was a student at Humble High in the 1980s, if he had swum in the lake. He replied that he and his brother had swum in several lakes in the area. He didn’t know the names of the lakes, but he and his friends always followed trails through the woods to get to them. One of the lakes was in the area where Bender Lake is located. Some of his friends knew the trail to the lake.
The infamous Bender Lake is located south of Spring Creek, deep in a wooded forest. With all the development that has taken place since 1960, it’s difficult to identify the area where the lake may be. One man who dared to make the trek as a teenager explained to me where he began his journey to swim in Bender Lake. He climbed through the fence surrounding private property to access the trail to the lake. When he returned from the lake, the homeowner stood at the fence to welcome him and to warn him to not trespass on his property again.
Today, I cannot identify his starting point of the trail due to the changes in the area. I often look to see the location of the private property, but it is no longer identifiable. The lake may still be a popular place to swim, but I no longer hear of local teenagers adventuring through the woods to swim in Bender Lake. I do hope that some of the tales of the past are still being passed down to the residents of the Humble area today.