As I was growing up, my parents had some friends who lived in an A-frame house behind some woods. These friends literally farmed out some of their property by the house, which included letting my parents have a garden of various sizes out there each year. In my six-year-old mind, that garden always seemed to be huge, and we were stuck with weeding it all summer long. No kid enjoys that, but these friends of my parents had a daughter whom my brother and I enjoyed playing with–especially the Mousetrap game–so the last thing we ever wanted to do when we went over there was to be forced into any kind of manual labor by the local Communist dictatorship of my parents. Child labor laws were a pointless and laughable invention at that point of our lives. But what kid doesn’t feel that way about his or her parents at that age?
I have fond memories (overall) of being out there, but two distinct memories of that place come to mind. The first involves the Chevy van that we had at the time. This van had a long history with us, namely due to the fact that my Dad and this friend of his “MacGyvered” a very nice bench-and-table-that-turn-into-a-bed system for the back of the van (it’s what my brother and I fell asleep on when we took those trips to the cabin on Paradise Lake that I told you about some time ago). Well, my Dad realized one day that one of the van’s tires had a bulge on the outer sidewall that was about the size of an egg. As you can imagine, that’s not good. So my Dad contacted this friend and made arrangements to drive the van over to his place and have him help with getting the tire off and the spare on. I can remember the tense drive over to their place! What didn’t help my Dad, though, was the fact that this van also had manual shift on the steering column. Not necessarily a bad thing (I prefer stick shift to automatic transmissions any day), but this van had a particular affinity to being shifted into third gear, particularly when my Dad was the one driving. Even at that young age, I can remember how hard it was sometimes not to burst out in loud guffaws and raucous laughter as we watched him fight with the gear shift, the van slowly losing speed as it coasted down the road, waiting for my Dad to finally get third gear engaged. More often than not, by that time the van had slowed down enough that second gear–or even first gear–was needed again before the inevitable attempt to shift into that ominous and intimidating third gear was to once again be broached.
As soon as we got to their place, us kids were told that the tire could blow at any time and we were to stay as far away as possible while they did their thing. No problem! (I hate loud noises. My Dad used to referee high school basketball and sometimes we’d go to a game just to watch him in action [he was very good at what he did!]. As a young kid, I used to have cotton in my ears at those basketball games and the game horn would still make me cry. Stupid horn…. ) So we played in their very cool “MacGyvered” playset that her Dad had built for her–me plugging my ears the whole time in case the tire blew–while the adults sweated out the removal of the infected tire and got the spare on the van.
So that’s one of my fondest memories out at their place.
Now for the other one….