|The same river but just slightly upstream|
Did you get shuffled off to relatives during the summer? I did. Our family always spent some time down the shore in the hot weather, however, for a couple of summers I also got to go spend time with Auntie Annie and Uncle Jack, who lived about 45 minutes away. Guess Mom needed a break!
I don’t remember Uncle Jack ever saying that much. He was well known for the red clam chowder he cooked up; a dish I had no appreciation for when I was young. I can still taste it though, and my adventurous adult taste buds would enjoy a bowl of it right now. Uncle Jack’s job had something to do with seafood deliveries and I learned in my teen years that all the shrimp my family consumed when I was growing up “fell off the truck”, according to my Dad.
Auntie Annie loved playing board games with me. I remember her copy of the game Clue. The board was only three colors, light yellow, maroon, and gray, rather drab compared to the full color version I had at home. We also played a game called Careers that had interesting professions including Uranium Expedition, Go to Sea, and Go to the Moon. Today, I have a vintage copy of that game, the exact same edition, and I still play it.
Spoiler alert, or rather, spoiled child alert: I was allowed to stay up late and watch Dick Cavett with my Aunt and Uncle. To this day, I can instantly recognize Dick’s incredible voice, yet I can’t tell you anything about his show.
My Aunt and Uncle had a small menagerie, including a very shaggy dog, Bipper, who was fun to run around the yard with, and a pen with Guinea Hens in it. The hens held my attention for about all of 15 seconds.
I quickly made friends with a girl across this street, Lois, who had her very own Easy Bake oven, a toy I always wanted but it never showed up under the Christmas tree. We’d cook up a storm in her rec room.
But there was more to my visit than a toy baking device and late night TV viewing.
The back yard was deep and seemed to go on forever, however it eventually ended at a river. A gurgling, fresh, clean, sparkling, mostly shallow body of water with lots of smooth rocks, perfect for practicing skimming; a skill I never quite grasped. My brothers seemed to be more talented at it than me. Guess it’s a guy thing.
One day when I was by the river with one of my brothers. We started playing by skimming the rocks but that only brought on boredom. One of us elevated the action by throwing the pebbles into the water, bypassing the skimming. This new twist soon evolved into a game of who could make the bigger splash. My competitive nature spurred the challenge on. Now, I don’t recall which one of us was more adventurous, but eventually a stone wall, where the rocks were loosely piled up, became a source of ammo. The “game” had truly escalated when the splashes were created by objects that rivaled the weight of bowling bowls.
Then Uncle Jack saw what we were doing. OOPS.
Now, if there was severe punishment involved, I would have remembered that, right? So let’s assume that we merely received a stern warning. And we weren’t told to fish the rocks out of the river either!
I’m thinking that if anything, we were secretly applauded for our creativity. At any rate, I’m glad to have such wonderful memories of those summer visits with my Aunt and Uncle.