Nobody has heard of this place, but I managed to find it with both husbands. My first husband and I took the older kids here twice on vacation. We stayed in the Lakehouse at the Davis Motel and Cabins when Tom was a tyke and Jo was only a year old. It was nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I met my second husband through a friend at school when I was getting my B.S. in biology. When she heard I had been to Schroon Lake, she introduced me to Larry whose family owned a house there. There are unbelievable coincidences in life.
She looked like a kind, little old lady, but Miss Ramel was like a tiger in striking position. She was an English teacher and our beloved drama coach. We could get pretty goofy at times, like memorizing different dialogue to see if she was listening. We liked to tell the new kids that she was a lunch lady and to give her our dinner order, or we'd tell them her name was Izzy. But we loved her because she was emotionally invested in us and our production. Miss Ramel directed us with power, deep feeling, and humor. Her front door was red, and that always defined her for me. I loved her.
Support groups exist for everything. You have a disease? There's a group for it. Overweight? Yup, there's a group. Sleep disorder? Yes indeed, there's a group. But there is no group for people with stupid children. Your only recourse is to find someone with children as dumb as your own and commiserate. This presents a problem because parents hide the stupidity of their offspring. They perpetuate the myth that children can be seen and not heard, that teens are controllable, that by 25 they are completely on their own. These are fallacies. Even if your kids are reasonably good, you know they've done wrong. Unfortunately, I had to fend for myself when my first husband left us, and again when my second husband died. All of my friends had perfect children. I did not. My kids made one bad choice after another, to the point where I got ill every time I got called into school, every time the house phone rang, and every time the police came to my door. I did all the right things. I sang to them, read to them, paid attention to every word they said. There were times I wished they would stop telling me everything so I could have 10 minutes peace. At Christmas time I would give them $20 dollars and take them to the local shops. They had a list of 10 people to buy for and $2 a piece to spend. They always came back with the most amazing, thoughtful things. So what happened? Shit happened.
As a child, certain things are put aside. Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are all left behind as we mature. God fell into the same mix for me. I haven't believed since I was seven. Sounds young to make such a life-changing decision, but in my heart of hearts, I knew God did not exist. I had to hide it from my parents. They were very strong Catholics. I went to parochial school. I wore the uniform that screamed our faith. I had none. My friends could never hear my secret. I was the heathen we were warned about in school. I not only suffered through mass every Sunday but all the times the nuns dragged us to on first Fridays and funerals. I had to go to confession when I didn't think for one minute a priest could intercede for me and grant me forgiveness. You cannot imagine how lonely it is when your life is an unrelenting difference in basic philosophy.
Naomi, June, and I made up the usual hitchhiking ensemble. Naomi was this really "out there" type, small with glasses. She had hitched all over Europe. June was a big girl, tall and big hipped. Then there was me, smack dab in the middle. We would carry signs that were funny and sing and dance on the side of the road, putting on a show so people would see us as non-threatening. We were in college at the State University at Fredonia, so we'd pop into Buffalo, about 60 miles away, to visit friends. We went lots of places. We only had a problem once. We were hitchin' through Pennsylvania, and a semi stopped for us. There was one guy in the truck, and we were three, so it seemed safe enough. He suggested two of us sit in the bunk in the back. When June opened the curtain, there were two more guys inside. The tension went up instantly. We were darting glances at each other. They propositioned us and pulled into a sleazy motel parking lot. We just said "no thanks," and we got out. Now we were stuck on some backwater road, and while it wasn't late, it was dark. It could have gone very differently, but we lucked out. Towards dawn, we got a lift back to the main drag. It had been a long cold night, but we were safe.
I had attended Catholic school for most of my life, except for kindergarten and first grade. Have you ever seen a kite that's broken loose from its string flying higher and higher in the breeze? That's what walking through doors of my high school felt like. Total freedom but no direction, no control, and no brakes. I loved it. It was one of three high schools in my town. There was one where the rich kids went, one where kids could take tech programs as well as academic ones, but mine was everyday middle and upper-middle-class. I traded in my plaid skirt for the public school uniform; bell-bottomed jeans worn over your shoes and empire waist shirts. You had to walk off the back of your pants naturally, without your mom's help, so you didn't trip. I transferred to this school for the music. My very first day, I had to audition. He asked me where my music was. I didn't have any. He told me to sing happy birthday. I croaked it through paralyzed vocal chords. My knees were hopping around my legs. Needless to say, I made it into the prestigious CHOIR, not one of the many auxiliary groups. Goal one was accomplished.