|We didn't always store it in the front yard, but when it was there,|
it was a great source of fun. Those are the next door neighbor kids.
My dad worked as a meter reader for the gas company during the week, but evenings and weekends, he worked at a boat dealership near a small lake just outside Kansas City. He made repairs and got boats spiffed up for the sales lot, and this made him able to buy one for us.
Our boat was kept on Lake Jacomo, a little lake east of Lee's Summit, Missouri, that was maintained by the Jackson County Parks Department. (Get it? Jackson County, Mo = Jacomo) There was a marina with docks (for the rich people with boats, which means richer than us - it wasn't a yacht kind of lake) and there were buoys out past the docks with boats anchored to them for the not rich people (like us). If your boat was buoyed instead of docked, you (meaning my dad) had to ride in a dinghy out to the boat and bring it back to the dock for loading and unloading of passengers and picnic baskets and coolers.
|Why do we have so many pictures of the pontoon boat in our yard? I swear, it was seldom there.|
My dad would only park it there when we were getting ready to take it on vacation.
When we first got the boat, we were a one-car family. On summer Saturday mornings, my mom would load us sleepily into the station wagon and drive my dad to the boat dealership for work. That gave her the car for the day for grocery shopping and errands. Then she would fill the picnic basket with paper plates and cups, chips and cookies, the cooler with bottles of Pepsi and hamburger patties, and we would pile back into the station wagon to go pick up my dad at work, then on to the lake and our pontoon boat.
|See? Not always in our yard. That's my brother, my mom, and me (in a dorky pixie haircut),|
pulled up to a gravel bar on what appears to be Lake Taneycomo.
Our pontoon boat was so cool, we had a charcoal grill strapped to the front deck. We would chug out onto the lake and into a quiet cove, where my dad would grill burgers and we'd eat our picnic supper on the boat.
|Grill, see? Lake Taneycomo bridge dead ahead. Look out, Daddy!|
During this same time period, my mother was the Den Leader for my brother's Cub Scout pack. About 8 boys would come over to our house once a week, sit around our formica kitchen table and drink Kool-aid. Or that's all I remember of it, since I was only about 4 at the time. I'm sure they did crafts or something else Scout-ish.
|Me, about the same age as when|
The Incident occurred.
In some weak moment, my parents decided to take the Cub Scout pack out on our pontoon boat. All the boys, plus little me, piled into our family station wagon (pre-seatbelt laws; most of the boys were in the way-back of the station wagon), and off we went. My parents kept the boys from falling and/or jumping off the boat into the water (swimming wasn't allowed in the lake), grilled hamburgers, let each Scout take a turn steering the boat, then returned to the marina.
That's when it happened.
The car loaded with rowdy Cub Scouts and picnic baskets, my mother happened to glance towards the shelter house next to the marina as they got ready to drive out of the parking lot and saw a little girl walking around the top of it, singing. She took a double take, looked in the back of the station wagon, AND REALIZED THE LITTLE GIRL AT THE SHELTER HOUSE WAS ME!
They nearly left me.
To this day, my mother says she breaks out in a cold sweat when she realizes how close they were to driving off and leaving me behind at the lake.
Whatever helps her sleep at night, because what I call it is The First Time My Parents Tried To Get Rid Of Me., and yes, you can count on a sequel.
|The shelter house where THEY LEFT ME. I was walking around the rail at the top,|
blissfully unaware that my parents were going to ditch me....
|Returning to the Scene of the Crime nearly 50 years later.|
(HOLY SHIT, HAS IT REALLY BEEN THAT LONG?!)
And why am I smiling?! I ALMOST GOT LEFT HERE!