My husband, as I mentioned in his story yesterday, lived above a funeral home. In order to create a more ordinary environment for their children, his parents would take them to spend weekends at the family lake home. It was a lovely place where Paul learned how to run a motor and navigate a small fishing boat, worked as crew on a large sailboat, was taught to fish and swim. In spite of it being a wonderful escape for the family, Paul often thought his parents were plotting ways to get rid of him. Here is a story he tells of just how they were going to accomplish that.
As a small child, the first requirement was to learn to swim. It was mandatory that he wear a life jacket. Add to that the fact that his swim trunks were made of wool (that tells you how old he is,) so they quickly soaked up the water and added extra pounds to his small frame. For that entire summer, Paul would swim close to the dock as his parents watched from a distance. They felt he was safe enough with that life jacket.
The summer ebbed to a close and it was time to test how much he had learned. So his parents removed the life jacket and let the fish swim. And swim he did – even with those heavily weighted down swim trunks. He was so proud of himself when he jumped out of the water and accidentally pushed the life jacket into the water. It immediately sank to the bottom. The extra weight of the water logged trunks along with a sunken life jacket undoubtedly deterred him some, but they also made an excellent swimmer out of him.
He and I often talk about how we ever made it through our childhoods. There were no car seats, except possibly a flimsy little plastic thing with a steering wheel on it. We spent hours in a playpen – a cage by today’s standards. We played in the streets by our homes all day long without coming home with more than a scraped knee or bruised elbow. We drank water out of a hose. We ate dirt. We didn’t wash our hands every five minutes. We’re still alive to tell about it.