When I was a young child, there were a few years that my family would take a vacation for two weeks and go to the lake.
We rented a place on a small lake in northeastern Indiana. There are several lakes in that region. The one we picked wasn’t very big. Not a lot of skiers and speedboats. So the noise was at a minimum.
It was a two story cottage. Green, if I remember right. Very steep steps from the front led to the small yard and the dock.
My mom and dad always invited mom’s dad and mom along with two of our cousins. This was before my youngest brother came along so there were six of us.
Dad was a mailman and in the early sixties he didn’t make a lot of money. Still they found a way to get us up there every summer.
I remember piling into our Plymouth station wagon (the car of choice for Catholics back then) and taking what I thought was a very long trip. Until I became old enough to drive on my own, these were the longest trips I would be on. It seemed like forever to get there. The actual trip only took a little over 2 hours on two lane roads.
That car was stuffed with fishing gear, clothes, a cooler, and other assorted things.
When we would get there, every one went to the water’s edge first, before unpacking. There was and is something about the smell of lake water that was almost magical to a city boy like me. I am convinced that food tastes better near the water.
The days were filled with wading around and exploring the area with my cousin.
My grandparents provided most of the entertainment.
By this time they had been married over forty years. They loved each other very much. They could also push each others buttons pretty well.
Grandpa liked to fish with two poles. A rod and reel which he always kept in his hand and a fly rod which he put at the opposite end of the boat. We are not talking about a large boat here. Picture a rowboat. Just a regular size rowboat. That was what we were in. Dad, Grandpa and me. To check on his flyrod line, Grandpa would have to get up and try to walk around the boat. Dad was always shifting himself around so we wouldn’t tip over.
Grandma would yell from the shore, “Sit down, Harry!”
“Awww, be quiet. You’re scaring the fish,” Grandpa would shout back.
In all the years we fished like that, he never tipped the boat over or lost the pole. I am sure Grandma would take all the credit for it. Thanks to her vigilance, we stayed afloat.
The middle weekend of the vacation, we would invite Mom’s side of the family one day and Dad’s the next. Every inch of that property was full of kids. It was great. Looking back, I am impressed that they would do that. It was quite a mob scene.
Dad would also invite some of his friends from work. Mailmen, then and now, have rotating days off. One week, they are off on a Monday, so the next week, Tuesday..when Friday would come up in the rotation, they got Friday and Saturday both. The following week, they would work the whole week and then the rotation would start over again.
So, people would drop in here and there during the week.
I should mention that even though we went up there every year, I never learned to swim. I didn’t care for it. Still don’t.
One day though, I was walking on the edge of the dock doing a little fishing when I took an extra step. Next thing I know I am on my back under a lot of water and having a tough time finding my way back up. That water I was so fond of was filling me up fast.
A hand appeared and grabbed mine, pulling me up to the surface. One of my Dad’s friends from work had brought his son and daughter with him. She was the one who saw me and saved my life.
I only saw her once after that. I thanked her again. She just brushed it off, but the look on her face showed how proud she was to have that on her resume.
You would think that might get me to learn how to swim. Nope. The lake had its chance and missed.
With the exception of that incident, I remember those trips fondly.
Lots of laughter. Lots of fishing. Lots of memories.