9/3/09

My Dad


When I was little my father would take all of us out on his little boat in the inlet. We packed up all we would need to spend a day in the boat: food, towels, crabbing or fishing gear. The kids fought over who got which spot on the fiberglass benches (by the end of the day it didn’t matter which place you “thought” was the best, we all ended up itchy with fiberglass). I don’t remember if we wore life jackets, maybe it was like seat belts from that era- you had them but you never used them.

My Dad grew up in North Carolina. He moved to Myrtle Beach after getting out of the military, started college at Coastal, and met a beautiful Jackie Kennedy look-alike. In the summer he was a lifeguard, my Mom would visit him at the beach in her perfectly coiffed hair do. They dated, fell in love and got married. The lifeguard and the bathing beauty started their life together.

Four children later, they were living waaay out in the unincorporated section of Myrtle Beach called 9th Avenue South. My dad worked at the Post Office and was alternately Fire Department Chief or Rescue Squad Chief in my formative years. For my siblings and I, our summers consisted of going to the beach, roaming our little neighborhood all day, visiting my grandparents in Surfside and taking the boat out with Dad.

Out we would go in the boat, winding around the marsh grasses, finding what looked like the “best” spot. Our lines would drop, my siblings and I would try to wait patiently for a bite. Crabbing from a boat involves a piece of twine wrapped around a slimy chicken neck and lowered into the murkiness. You were supposed to wait until you felt the tug of a blue crab eating your bait then slowly, so slowly pull it up. You would then whisper frantically for someone to get the net when you saw you had one. They would lower the net under your delicious, blue crab, hopefully catching the little guy before he jumped over the side. It was a hot, salty ballet involving a lot of maneuvering and patience.

The heat and hard work would get to us eventually. That’s when we would break out the food, approximately 10 minutes after we left the dock. My Mom would have packed us “boating food” which consisted of sandwiches, saltines, Cokes, and Vienna sausages. It was 20 years before I knew that Vienna sausages were supposed to be pronounced like the city of the same name, not like Hyena. But I digress. We would eat and crab, eat some more, maybe swim. As my sisters got older they would concentrate more on getting a tan. My brother took great delight in antagonizing me in our close quarters. My mother tried to keep her sanity while breaking up fights, applying sunscreen, doling out food and the long-handled net.

By the end of the day, I would be collapsed somewhere in the boat. My dad would safely maneuver us back to the dock. We would stand drooping with exhaustion on the dock as my Dad loaded the boat on his trailer. Then we would pile in, exhausted but filled with salty food and amazing memories.

Taking the boat out is one of my favorite memories from childhood. All the trips we took meld into one long wonderful day. My Dad at the motor, navigating and teaching us how to crab, fish, look for sandbars, watch for schools of fish. And today I hear my dad’s words coming out of my mouth when I am teaching my girls those same lessons. Sit quietly, be patient, keep your eyes open and wait for the rewards.

re-posted from my blog on MyrtleBeachMoms.com

4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful memory of your dad and you growing up. I love that you are instilling that in your own children.

    Thanks so much for leaving me a comment and following me. I'm following you too now. :)

    I can't wait to read more. So far I'm really enjoying your blog.

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  2. Oh, how special and wonderful. That is a beautiful photo.

    Steph

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  3. What a great post. Thanks for sharing that. That is a great photo! :)

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  4. What a cool memory you have kept.

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