I have written of the many places my dad worked when I was little, one of them was Traverse City, Michigan.
To do a quick memory refresh, just out of the Navy, Papa worked for a company named Stromberg-Carlson who, after WWII, helped the United States infrastructure by building a bigger, better telephone system from the ground up, across the country; and continues, today, to manufacture electronic products. My father was part of a group that put telephone offices and equipment together in hundreds of towns and cities. One of these towns was Traverse City, Michigan. Generally, it would take an average of three months to get the office up and running.
While Papa was working, we lived in a white with green trim summer cottage, as Pup’s work would be over before winter would come. It was drafty, and small, but my brother, Chris, and I found plenty to do outside, exploring the nearby cherry groves and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan. This was always under the watchful eyes of Mama, fearing for our lives living so close to any water.
One day, as we waited for Papa to get home, there was a huge thunder and lightning storm (another of Mum’s fears). The power went out, and after un-plugging every wire cord in America, she huddled the three of us in the center of the house as it shook. Chris and I wondered why all the fuss, after all, it wasn’t the apocalypse, though at 7 and 6, I’m pretty sure we didn’t know what that was. The lightning was on top us and took maybe ten minutes to pass, it did take on the look of a Halloween nightmare, with bolts of bright lightning against a black background. Mama taught us to count seconds between the flash and the thunder to estimate how far away the storm was, and so we counted, until she loosened the grip on each of us, and released us to peek out the windows. The sun came out and we talked her into letting us sit on the front porch steps to wait for Papa to get home.
After plugging the stove in again, Mama started making supper, while Chris and I told Papa of our near-death and harrowing afternoon experiences. Suddenly, from the kitchen, a blood curdling scream. Papa, in a fast move we’d never seen before, literally sprang up the step and through the screen door all in one move. Inside, Mama was screaming the word “MOUSE”, and Chris and I peered in from the top step to see our mother standing on a rickety old wooden kitchen chair. “Get it” she said, and we wildly laughed as Papa was chasing a tiny mouse around the kitchen at a distance with a broom and dustpan, yet consciously saying “I don’t want it to climb up my pants” light tan color chinos. As I look back on it, it looked like a take of Edith and Archie in an All in the Family episode. In the end, I snatched a small waste basket, and stealthily on my hands and knees entered the kitchen and covered the little critter in about ten seconds. Chris and I slid the basket to the door and scooped Mickey’s cousin into the exterior darkness. Yeah! Let’s eat.
Yesterday's storm had loosened a wooden raft of about 8 feet by 10 feet from its mooring and drove it into the shore. My brother and I couldn’t wait to explore and with our bathing suits on and the sun finally out, we were off to explore. We loved it, you could easily get on the end in the sand and jump off into the water on the opposite side and we did so as only young boys can, hundreds of times, every summer kid’s dream. At some point, Chris jumped into the sand and headed off to the cottage for something to eat. Mama, who had been sunning herself on a chaise lounge set five feet from us, so she could watch us like a hawk, because, you know, water; went in with Chris to help him with his hunger.
I laid back on the raft and watched cloud formations and basked in the warmth of the sun, never realizing that Chris’ jump had set the raft adrift. Five minutes later I could hear my mother yelling my name, “David, you come back right now”. Sitting up I could see I was a few hundred feet from the shore and though I could dog paddle a bit, I reckoned staying aboard the good ship, Mama’s Gonna Kill Me, was the prudent move. I remember my Mama crying and beckoning the son of the cottage owner to come and help. His dad had sent him to see if Mama needed any help, as a good owner would do. The boy was of high school age, and Mama implored him to save her son, and explained that the raft had begun floating out toward Lake Michigan proper, and with dark clouds heading in our direction, the moment needed a hero. The young man swam out to the raft and grabbed a rope hanging off its side and with water almost over his head walked the raft and me back to shore. He saved me that day, but couldn’t save my little butt from being paddled, forgive the pun.
Today, at 76, I enjoy recalling my youth, and enjoy eating too many cherries.
I was inspired to write this story by fellow writer, Sheila L. Chingwa and her Vocal story called Turn the Page, and using her words, find her to be My Soulful Friend. If you read her work, and I encourage you to, you’d know she is from Northen Michigan and is a Native American. She not only writes from her heart but from her very spirited soul, and I’m both proud and humbled to call her friend.
About the Creator
I write my memories, family, school, jobs, fatherhood, friendship, serious and silly. I read Vocal authors and am humbled by most. I'm 76, in Thomaston, Maine. I seek to spread my brand of sincere love for all who will receive.