Hell of a Guy
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nostalgia Trip…


I am not one who lives in the past, but I do enjoy an occasional visit there, especially a look back at the most pleasant times.  One of those looks is at some wonderful summer vacations and my fantasy childhood.

My mother’s family, though she was not born there, was from North Carolina near a small coastal village called Marshallberg, and for many of my childhood years we vacationed there.  Prior to his death in 1945, my grandfather purchased an old house and some land adjacent to the waterfront home place of his father-in-law.  He lived in Baltimore and this house was to be used by the family as a vacation home.  It was not opulent in any way, shape or form; it offered no amenities – none.  While it did have electricity, it did not have indoor plumbing, save a hand- operated pump in the kitchen that offered some of the worst water I have ever had the displeasure to drink.  Even with ice, it sucked. The kitchen lacked a refrigerator but had icebox (which has to be experienced to appreciate), and there must been a stove of some sort, though I cannot for the life of me remember it.  The old house had three bedrooms - one down, two up.  The one downstairs was reserved for my grandmother, who was known as “Bertie,” and those upstairs were crammed with three or four beds in them that allowed little room to navigate, and each equipped with a chamber pot.  Those two offered communal, albeit uncomfortable, sleeping arrangements for our family of six.

Other than the couple of unpleasant camping trips I have taken in my lifetime, vacations in Marshallberg were the only times I have been forced to use an “outhouse.”  In a word, it was a nasty experience.  About the only thing nastier than having to use a smelly outhouse full of spiders and indescribable odors might be the portable toilets at outdoor events or a chamber pot. There just ain’t no graceful way to use a chamber pot, though good balance is a must.

I was born in 1944.  My earliest recollection of a vacation at the old house is when I was six or seven.  We traveled there in my dad’s 1948 Plymouth coupe; Mom and Dad and little brother in the front, my two sisters and me in the back.  It was always in August, and it was always hot as hell.  We would leave Baltimore about 4:30 in the morning for the 450-mile trip and arrive tired and sweaty at the old house about 3:30 in the afternoon for a two- or three-week stay. 

So many wonderful memories of this place; Sleepy Creek just seconds from the house where we swam, fished, crabbed and boated (rowed); getting blocks of ice for the icebox to barely keep our food cool; the whistling noise of salty breezes as they blew through the window screens; waking up in the morning to the sweet smells of freshly brewed coffee and crispy bacon; and just not having a care in the world.  Those were the days - lazy, awesome, unforgettable days.
Marshallberg vacations, where I got to get a banana split at White’s Ice Cream Parlor in Morehead City for 50 cents (an extravagance in early fifties) and the shear enjoyment of our once-a-year restaurant dining at “Tony’s Sanitary Fish Market” and hush puppies and fried shrimp right off the boat.  Yum!

I could go on and on.  Each word I type brings up more and more memories of days gone by of a childhood that was wonderful beyond wonderful.  These thoughts make me so happy I could cry, but I won’t. I’ll just keep on smiling and keep on remembering.

And that is all I have to say about that…