Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Camp

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Growing up, I was very lucky. My Grandfather, who lived with us, owned a camp on a small pond a few hours from home. We got to spend our summer there.

It was very rustic. The only modern convenience was electricity. No indoor plumbing and no heat except the wood cook stove and some very old (even then) space heaters.

The camp sat just a few feet from the shore line of a very pristine body of water. No boat with a motor was ever in that pond and sparkling clear water remains to this day.
Some of my fondest memories come from that camp. The first weekend after school let out in June we’d load up the car and head to the camp. Dad would drive us all down and spend the weekend then he’d return home to work and drive back and stay with us on weekends.

As soon as we got there my shoes came off and didn’t go back on again until we returned home after Labor Day weekend. My feet were always really sore the first day back at school!
Even back then I was up early and I’d take a swim in the quiet and solitude of the sun rise and then I’d make breakfast; sometimes it was pancakes over a wood fired stove. That usually got every one else moving around as well.

I remember walking barefoot over five miles to Plymouth Massachusetts to buy the newest Nancy Sinatra album. Even with rustic conditions one had to have some priorities. And by the way back then you could still go barefoot in a store.

We had a wooden raft in the water, held up by empty 55 gallon drums that you could swim out to and dive off of. There was also an old wooden rowboat that was fun to maneuver around in the pond, take into the “swampy” area and hunt frogs and turtles, which we would later release.

I spent one entire summer irritating my Mother by singing “I’m Henry the VIII I Am” as loudly as I could in my best Cockney accent, which I thought was pretty good! Never knew why she didn’t love it as much as I did; it’s not like I didn’t mix in a verse of Gary Lewis and the Playboys “Save Your Heart for Me” now and then.
A neighbor had a small rickshaw he let us use and I’d pull my sister around in it for hours. Okay, I’m not entirely sure how much fun I had but she sure did!

On the other hand, she didn’t much fun when I talked her into rolling down a grassy hill with me. Okay, I was young, grass, poison ivy; they look the same, right? Good thing I wasn’t allergic to it; too bad about little sis though!
Then there was the time my big brother was going fishing, I wanted to go fishing too! I was only four and there was no such thing as “little kids” fishing equipment. So Dad took a stick and some twine and bent an old, large safety pin into a hook for me, put a worm on it and let me have fun. Meanwhile, he and big bro went off to try to catch some fish. I can proudly report there was only one fish caught that day, on an old bent safety pin! I landed a bluegill or sunfish as we used to call them, one of my proudest moments! Big brother still hasn’t forgiven me!

After my grandfather passed away, my folks couldn't afford to keep the property and it eventually was sold. I always vow that if I win the lottery, I’ll buy it back, no matter the cost. And, to paraphrase Paul Simon, I know it would never match my sweet memories! 

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