Stories for Deven
A Family Tradition
When I was a child my father and mother bought a camp on the St. Lawrence River. We then began a family tradition of spending every summer at camp. We would pack up the two cars with blankets, pillows, food and dishes, games and toys and most important of all, bathing suits! Ching, our dog, would ride in the car with his head out the window and his tongue hanging out for all of the seven miles to camp.
My parents owned the Ford Motor Co. franchise in our city, so they each drove a car which was very unusual in those days. Dad always drove one of the brand new cars as a way of advertising, he said.
Going to camp was the best time of the year for me. One year, my dad decided we would go early and have a longer season on the river. So that year we went up to camp in April and stayed until October! We had three seasons at camp. My brothers and sisters and I went down to school with my dad when he went to work and then we met him after school to come back to camp when he finished work. I remember doing homework by the light of a lamp because the sun went down much earlier in the spring.
The river was icy cold in the spring so we couldn’t go swimming until summer came. It was still pretty cold in the summer but the air was warm, so we didn’t care.
I spent most of those summer days in the water. My mother called me her little fish. She would make me get out of the water every so often when my lips had turned blue. I would have to dry out in the backyard on a towel or blanket, lying in the sun. Then when my lips got pink again, I could go back in the water. We would play cards and games while we dried out waiting to go back swimming. We always had to wait an hour after a meal before mom would let us go in the water again. She said our food must have a chance to digest or we would get cramps.
I remember how much I loved to find big flat rocks under the water. I would do surface dives and somersaults from them, imagining them to be a platform. Then one year I was old enough to swim out to the raft where my older brothers, sisters and neighborhood kids would be swimming. I learned to dive from the raft and even learned how to do back dives and flips. We would throw a sulfur rock in the water and have contests to see who could retrieve it the fastest. It would glow under water so it was easy to find, even for me. I was very near-sighted and had to wear glasses, but not in the water! J
Like all the other camps around us, our camp didn’t have running water, so we went to the pump up the road and pumped water. Then we had to carry it in buckets back to the camp for drinking, washing the dishes and for cooking. We had to use an outhouse for a toilet; a situation that fostered lots of jokes in the neighborhood!
There was a railroad track that ran behind the camps and the trains would come by twice a day, going in and out of the city. I remember being at the pump, near the tracks when the train came by on August 15, 1945. The older kids had made a huge big sign that said: THE WAR IS OVER – VJ DAY!!!! We all helped to hold it up for the train passengers to see. Everyone was so excited! We knew my oldest brother would be coming home soon from the Navy.
After we all grew up and had moved far away, the camp was sold. But many, many years later, when I had a family of kids, my mom arranged for us to go to another camp for 2 weeks each summer. My kids loved it as much as I had.
The First Time…….
When I was a little girl, I went to the Catholic school two blocks down the street from my house. In the wintertime, we had so much snow that we could walk up and down the snowbanks all the way to school. The snow got shoveled to clear the sidewalks and was piled so high between the sidewalk and the street that you couldn’t see the cars on the road. After an ice storm, we had lots of icicles that formed from water dripping off the bush branches, the porch railings and the windows of the house. The big kids had fun breaking off icicles and licking them like lollipops.
One day, when I was in first grade, we were playing outdoors at recess. There had been an ice storm the night before so there were a lot of kids trying to find the perfect icicle for a lollipop. I wanted to copy them, so I was still looking for a big icicle when the bell rang and recess was over. We had to line up alphabetically, starting on the steps going up to the school door. My name started with a B, so I was near the front of the line, standing on one of the steps. While we waited for the Sister to come and let us in the door, I noticed the railing was covered with ice! You couldn’t see it from a distance because the ice was clear and the railing looked black, like it always did. But up close, I spied the ice covering it. Wow! What a great big lollipop, I thought, as I started to lick it.
WRONG! My tongue got stuck on the ice and I couldn’t get it off! The Sister came and found me in terrible pain so she went and got some warm water to help me get un-stuck! Ooohhhhh!!! My tongue was so sore for days afterward that that was my first …….and LAST time to lick icicles!
Elizabeth, a retired psychotherapist, has downsized to an apartment in Bristol, RI. She raised six children in Scituate, MA as a single mother and now has seven grandchildren.
Elizabeth did some writing in graduate school when the children were young and returned to writing as a result of her RV trip to volunteer for Katrina disaster relief. At the age of seventy, she plans to continue her travels seeing the beauty of the US and Canada. You may email her at: email@example.com