It's almost time for the students to return en masse. Sorta (actually, a lot) excited about that. Campus is great fun with the hum and hustle of learning and becoming.
So here's a blast from my past. . . on two fronts. First, check me out, second from the right in the first row. I look like a Beatle. Yikes, not attractive hair. And this was probably the only summer in my life when I was actually taller than a few boys. Second, how about this scrapbook layout? Whoa. Lots of dark colors and embossing powder. Not my style anymore. Yet the words on this page are fantastic. I did a great job in this entire album telling the story of my family's time each summer at a resort near Blackduck, MN called Cedar Rapids Lodge (highly recommend it for a family vacation, by the way).
I pulled this out and scanned it tonight because I read today on the CRL blog that Don, the older man in the back row, passed away last week. Don and Vivian were the owners of the resort when we started going there in 1981. They sold it in 1986 to the Addler's, who still own it. We continued to spend a week there each summer until 1995. Some of my most treasured childhood memories are rooted at this place.
And this evening pictured above is one of them. It was the summer of 1986 and the group of us kids had been friends for many summers. This was/is the type of resort where families come back the same week, year after year. We were just about teenagers. Earlier in the week we were hanging out in the lodge, playing pinball and Don caught our attention with, "hey, you kids want to go on a snipe hunt this week?" So we talked about this with him a bit. Lots of questions, like "what are snipe." He told us they were little birds that run around on the ground, in the woods behind the cabins. And the trick to catching them is rapping on the ground with special snipe sticks he would find for us which would lure them into our garbage bags. I think we believed that story in full until we looked up snipe in the lodge's bird book and discovered that in fact, snipe live near water and prefer to run around in the sand. We told our parents what Don was planning for us and were met with twinkling eyes that made us even more curious about what was really going to happen.
Snipe hunt night rolled around. Don had all the sticks and garbage bags ready. When it was dark he brought us back to woods and stationed the oldest of us the deepest in the woods, then staggered us out from there. I was with Ginger and Don put us in a clearing. We sat on the ground and tapped our sticks. But then we started hearing lions roaring and monkeys chirping and there was this red light that kept flashing around the trees beyond us. Then it would get quiet. Then it all would come back. But now there were these howling noises, that didn't sound real. Jeremy and Jeff came running out yelling, "Don's tricked us - he has a tape player with him and he's walking around back here." We all ran out to find some dads climbing down from their howling posts on cabin rooftops and all the adults at the resort laughing and asking where the snipe were. The younger kids in the group were pretty scared.
We surrounded Don at the bonfire after and joked that we knew all week he was up to something. He said he didn't know what were talking about - that he was helping chase the snipe out to us. We just needed to tap for them and they would have come running. Yep, we weren't buying it, but roasted marshmallows with him anyway.
We knew earlier in the week that this would be Don and Viv's last year as owners. One of the families were like the Von Trapp's and they planned a farewell party on Friday night in the lodge for everyone at the resort that week. The dad, Cliff, and mom, Cheryl, rewrote lyrics and us kids became Don and Snipes. We sang "Northern Fish" to "California Girls" and "Hey, Hey We're the Leeches" to "Hey, Hey We're the Monkeys." We had practice times during the week. And there were props too. We wore black garbage bags to be leeches. We played fishing pole guitars and tackle box drums. It was our one and only gig. Cliff and Cheryl also rewrote "Oh Danny Boy" to "Oh Donny Boy" and performed it together. Here we are:
Somewhere in my bedroom at my parent's house I have the one and only audio cassette tape recording of us performing that Friday night.
Ah, good memories. Really, really good memories. Don, I hope heaven is full of snipe, lots of sunnies and walleyes and chocolate shakes. Thank you for being a special person in my life.
ps - Tammy, if you're reading this - Ginger and Jeff are Ginger and Jeff Stark, who you went to school with.