Thursday, August 21, 2008

Miller Time

Reading through the blogs I follow tonight, I came across a post that really stirred up a lot of memories for me. The title of this post is Carp-e Diem and was written by Terri, of Terri Terri Quite Contrary. If you go over to her place and read this post, you'll then understand (after reading mine, of course) why this piece hit home for me.

This event in my life took place 27 years ago this week, as a matter of fact. It was, I think, the only time when my kids were growing up that we were actually able to take a whole week of vacation -just my three kids and me.

I'd financed this lovely get-away for us by having a huge yard sale and had sold off bunches and bunches of "inventory" I had stockpiled away of Avon products I had purchased to use as "demos" for my customers. The yard sale had gone over quite well so I was, relatively "flush" then you could say. (Probably the one and only time during those years that I was in that type of financial state too, come to think of it.)

But anyway, I had made plans for us to go to several places during that week. First we went down to D.C. and spent a day with my best friend there and I had a chance to have lunch too with a few of my old work buddies that way. Then, we headed away from D.C. and up to Annapolis where we rounded up another old friend -Louis Seneci -who had been the boyfriend of one of my former roommates. With Louis, we headed to a restaurant out by the Chesapeake Bay where he and I feasted on hard-shell crabs and my kids -cowards that they were -ate hamburgers as they thought the crabs were just too gross. (Actually, my son did try some and found they were pretty good but he was already locked into the burger and fries he had ordered to begin with.

From there, after dropping Louis off, we headed back home for a day -so I could get my Avon order sent in on the required date. (Avon sales stop for no one ya know.) When we left Annapolis it was about 11 p.m. and I headed north towards Route 70 -knowing I could pick that up around Baltimore and once on Route 70, I could find my way back home almost blindfolded. However, of course, I had no map with me so I was just sort of flying by the seat of my pants, heading north and west and figuring eventually I would come upon Route 70. What I didn't count on though was getting into Baltimore -my first time ever in that fine city -and I hadn't a clue as to what each part of the city was like -good neighborhood, iffy or down right rough and scary. And so, at about 1 a.m., I had come upon Route 40 (another route I knew would lead me in the right direction) but Route 40 then, traveling through Baltimore took you through some pretty rough sections of the town and needless to say, I told the kids to lock the car doors and just be quiet as I didn't need them chattering at me, asking tons of questions and making me just a bit more nervous than I already was.

We survived that part of the drive, got on track then -route wise -and arrived back home here close to 5 a.m. that day. A little sleep, got my Avon order all ready to mail out and by early evening, we headed west on I-80 to Toledo, where I had made reservations at a motel to spend the night there.

The next morning, we called a lady who I had waitressed with a few years earlier at another truckstop here and who was then married to a Roadway Driver, picked her up and she went with us then to Cedar Point Amusement Park for the day.

The kids had an absolute blast at this park! Carrie tricked Clate into going on the "Blue Streak" with her by lying to him and telling him it was not a "rolly coaster" (as he called them then) and they stood in line for over 40 minutes to get on that ride, with him jabbering away to whoever was standing near them about how he was going on this ride and how it so WAS NOT a rolly coaster. Carrie told me when they returned from this ride that he was find as the car was pulling up the first hill until it peaked and then the rude awakening hit him that he'd been duped by his sister. She said he screamed at the top of his lungs at her, "You LIED to me, Carrie! This is a Rolly Coaster!" We still tease him to this day about how scared he was of any rides like that.

Mandy spent a good deal of the day rather ticked off though because she was much more daring than her brother but unfortunately, she wasn't quite tall enough to be allowed to go on some of the rides she wanted to check out. And, with Mandy -then as now -you don't want to tell her she can't do something!

After leaving the park and dropping my friend Helen off back at her house, we then started driving west again -this time to Stockton, Illinois -and the home of my kids grandparents -my ex-husband's parents and his hometown.

I drove all night and arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house at about 7 a.m. Just in time Grandpa said as he had big plans for us that day.

The grandparents had a little tiny old travel trailer on a lot down near the Mississippi River and Grandpa had a boat -not anything fancy -just a boat with an outboard motor for fishing purposes -and he wanted to go to their camp, spend the day and night there.

That date also happened to be my son's 8th birthday so Grandpa had special plans for him and his grandson to observe the boy's birthday.

Once we got do their camp, the first thing I did was head to the little bedroom and crash!

While I slept, Grandpa took all three kids down to the river and gave them a ride in his boat. Then he brought the girls back to shore, leaving them with Grandma and he and Clate set out on the river to do some serious bonding and fishing.

Along about 1 p.m., I woke up hearing a familiar voice yelling "I caught a fish, I caught a fish!" I knew right away it was Clate so I managed to drag myself out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and outside I went to join Grandma and the girls as we watched Clate running up the lane from the river, and a more excited 8-year-old boy you would never have seen than what he was that day!

He got up to where we were standing, waiting for him and for Grandpa, bringing up the rear and Clate was pointing excitedly to the fish on a rope of some kind that Grandpa was carrying and all the while, Clate was yelling as loud as he could, dancing around and telling us he'd caught these fish -all three of them -and Grandpa was really anxious to tell us all about their great fishing adventure.

Seems the kid had caught three fish alright -a sunfish, a perch I believe and also this huge fish that has to have been the absolute ugliest fish I have ever in my life seen too!

By that time, Grandpa had caught his breath and began to relay the story of the catching of the carp.

Seems that when this old carp hit on Clate's line, it really shook the kid up. After all, he was just this skinny little kid who had never ever been fishing before, much less on a boat on the mighty Mississippi River too. So when the fish hit and took off with the hook and bait, the old reel was spinning around like crazy and at first kind of had Grandpa afraid Clate would end up with a broken thumb until he finally got his thumb out of the way of that contraption.

Grandpa said it took the two of them a little over 20 minutes of fighting this creature until they were finally able to land it in the boat. And, as soon as they got that accomplished, Clate kind of laid back in the corner of the boat, arms spread out and announced to Grandpa, "Let's go home. I'm all fished out and it's Miller Time!"

Grandpa's first question to me about Clate's words there were to the effect of wondering where he'd picked that line up from. I told him not to look at me as I was a Genny girl then and it was the kids dad who was a Miller Man!

Clate was still all wired for sound from this expedition and he then told Grandma that he had already decided too what he was going to do with this fine specimen of a fish. He was going to bring it home with us and have me freeze it, "real, real hard" and then, he planned to mount it on a piece of wood so we could then hang it on the wall in the living room.

When Grandpa heard Clate's ideas of what he wanted to do with this fish, he turned to Grandma and said "Eileen, quick! Go get a shovel and dig a whole behind the trailer and bury this damned thing!"

So, that's where the fish ended up -in a whole behind Grandma and Grandpa's camping trailer.

But after we got back home and my ex-brother-in-law had stopped by the house to get all the details on our trip to Stockton and back, when Clate told Uncle Tom about the fishing trip and catching this carp, Uncle Tom then informed him about how you have to fix carp if you are planning to cook them.

According to Uncle Tom, you have to have a big old pine board and you put the fish on that and bake in the oven for a good while. Once it's done baking, you take the fish out of the oven and throw it away and you eat the pine board.

I wish I could find the photographs that Grandma and I both took of Clate that day as he proudly held up those three fish for us to capture the moment for posterity. I have them around here someplace -I think -unless they may have been burned, by accident, the night my son managed to catch the house on fire!

That's a story for another day though. And now, like Clate was that day, I'm all tuckered out and I'm heading to bed. Unfortunately, without either a Miller's Lite or a Genesee or a Coor's Silver Bullet to my name.

And that's my Fish tale for the day.


Kathryn said...

Wow. What beautiful memories you made. It sounds like it was an amazing experience!

... Paige said...

Good times are full of carp, at least for some lucky people.
What a fun vacation you had with the kids.

Linda said...

Wow! That was quite the trip! You must have needed another week to sleep it off but such great memories you have there!

Jamie has always been my "rolly coaster" rider but Amanda, alas, is a chicken where those kind of rides are concerned. Takes after her father in that case!

fermicat said...

I hope those photographs turn up for you one day. But if they don't, it sounds like that memory is etched in your head.

Sandi McBride said...

family vacations were always fun, full of adventure and sometimes car troubles, but glory be the gas was cheap, lol! I'm afraid those days of piling in the car and heading out on the open road headed no where in particular are gone for good. Too bad for America. Too bad for her people!
Great post, full of wonderful memories no one can take away from you!

Paula said...

Great fish story and wonderful memories! My son was a hyperactive little thing, but give him a fishing pole and he would stand beside the lake all day, and so darn proud when he would drag in a little fish. I can't imagine your little guys smile when he brought in that big old carp. Too cute!