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Plywood Boat

A little boys dreams

By Doug GriffinPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Plywood Boat
Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

“It was just an old plywood boat......”

It's a line from a popular country song, When Daddy Let Me Drive, by Alan Jackson. More importantly, it can be the beginnings of a little boy's dreams!

Like the song, I had an old boat. It was aluminum and had been taking up space in the yard for a year or so. Every few months I'd clean the leaves out of it. My wife had been riding me about it so I finally decided to list it for sale online. The ad had barely been posted when I received a text reply on my cell phone. This is the story of that sales transaction.

Him: “Is the boat still available”

Me: “It's still available at this time.”

Him: “Would you consider a trade?

A few more messages and we had agreed on terms of the sale and a time to meet.

Him: “That's great! My 10 year old son will be very happy. He's been on me for awhile about getting a little boat to do some crappie fishing.”

Me: “Sounds like it works for everyone! See you this evening.”

Him turned out to be Billy's dad and they arrived right on time that evening. Little Billy jumped out of the pick-up truck almost before it had come to a stop. He ran over to the old boat and I could see the excitement in his eyes as he looked it over. Although he was physically standing in my yard; in his mind he was far, far away. He was on the lake on a sunny day, bobbing up and down and catching a stringer full of crappie or trolling along slowly across the waves or even piloting a speed boat.

He came down to Earth for a moment and looked at me and spoke “This is going to be my first boat” he said “She's beautiful!” His little sister watched enviously as he stroked the faded vinyl seats like they were the finest Corinthian Leather.

I grinned and replied “Yeah, she's a good old boat” and for a moment I was jealous that I could not see the old boat through his eyes.

Then Billy's dad and I got down to the business at hand. We had settled on $100 cash and a .22 rifle in exchange for the old boat. He counted out 5 crumpled twenties into my hand and then turned to Billy.

“Son, get your gun out of the truck.” he said. I hadn't realized that the gun in the deal belonged to the boy. He got the gun and brought it to me. I could sense a little reluctance as he handed it to me. “It's a great gun.” he said “I haven't used it that much.”

I took the gun from his hands and could see it had been well taken care of. I could also see that at one time, it was a beat up old gun from a little boy's dreams! It had been on safari in Africa and winning sharp-shooter medals at the State Fair. It may have even fired the shot heard round the world.... in a little boy's dreams! But sometimes the thing about dreams is you have to let go of one to move on to another. Dreams are funny that way.

“It's a fine gun.” I said “I'll get a lot of use out of it.” but in reality, I had the identical gun hanging on the wall of my bedroom and this one would probably join it's twin.

We chit-chatted a while about boating and fishing and stuff and I happened to mention that I had a trolling motor for sale. The boys eyes lit up and he turned to his dad “Dad, can we get it?” he begged for even little boys know a boat with a motor is twice as good. Billy's dad asked me about it and I told him I needed $75 for the trolling motor and his eyes kind of fell for a moment. “That's a lot of money, son.” he explained to the boy but his hand was already fumbling in his pocket to see how much money he had left.

That's when I realized that there was another dream in play here. A bigger dream. The dad's dream for time with his son. The thrill of seeing his son catch his biggest fish ever.... The dream of being able to make his son's dream come true! The dream to build memories.. perhaps like his dad did with him. That's powerful stuff!

Dad's hand came out of his pocket with a few crumpled bills. “All I've got left is $72.” He said “Would that be enough?” He held the bills out to me and I could feel the hopeful eyes of both father and son on me as I pondered the offer.

“No, I can't take $72.” I said “Just give me $50 of it and we'll call it square!”

And just like that, the deal was complete! They loaded up the boat and motor and I stuffed the rest of the money into my pocket. As they drove away I saw hands waving happily at me from both sides of the pick-up truck. I hope they were as happy with their bargain as I am with mine. For 22 bucks, I got a very small piece of some dreams that will last for years and years. That's the best purchase I've made in years. I've also decided to put Billy's 22 rifle up for sale... perhaps to another young boy with dreams of his own because dreams don't become dreams if they are hanging on the wall!

I'd like to end this with a line from another song. The song is Butterfly For Bucky by Bobby Goldsboro and it goes something like this: “For we've not seen the magic... in the power of a little boy's dreams!”


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