Oct 16, 201308:35 AM
Running In Fog: HeartLand Boating Humor
Different families make memories in different ways. Some folks have picnics and reunions, some take group vacations, some play board games or go to museums. Whatever the manner in which those memories are made, the most important thing is to be together and make those memories as often as possible.
Lots of families choose to make their memories on a boat, as we all know when we try to find a quiet anchorage, smooth skiing water, a bit of unfettered breeze or a secret fishing spot. Some days, it seems that everyone is making their memories on the same day.
The Harrison family has a unique way of making and remembering family boating memories. Sure, they take pictures and pack picnics. They sing along with the radio on the way to the lake. They upload goofy videos to YouTube and share stuff on Facebook. But what really sets them apart is their boat.
Are you waiting for me to list some big-name, fancy-schmancy brand? A Perini Navi complete with crew, perhaps? Keep waiting — I’m heading in the other direction.
How about a beat up tri-hull that, once upon a time, used to be avocado green? It’s the kind of boat you don’t even call by a manufacturer’s name. They don’t say “our Krogen” or “our Nordic Tug” or even “our awesome sunshine yellow Sunfish.” Nope. They call it “the boat.”
This is a generational boat. I talked to Grandma June about it.
“Now then, I do NOT condone this behavior, but my late husband won this boat in a poker game. Bruce Laudenslager was really in a tough spot according to the official story.”
Naturally, I had to know the “official story.”
Grandma June continued, “The first thing you need to know is that Ned had been wanting a boat forever, and I kept saying no. No, no, no. We’ve got kids in diapers and cats and dogs to feed and a mortgage to pay and a station wagon and I needed a new dryer because in those days, we used cloth diapers that just do not dry outside in January. So, NO BOAT. No, no, no.”
“Well, once a month, Ned had a poker evening with a few friends. They all lived in the neighborhood, and the wives would let them play cards in the kitchen unless they had cigars. Cigars meant they were in the garage. They never bet huge amounts of money, just pennies, nickels and dimes. “
“One Saturday morning after the poker game, Bruce pulled into the driveway with the boat. Said Ned won it in a game. Ned said he named it after me, JuneBug, which is what he called me when we were dating. Now, who can be mad at a man who names his boat after his wife?”
“Kids grew up on that boat. It was their favorite place to be. So, I got the idea to make it really, truly ours. In some families, as the kids grow, parents measure them and draw a little line on a chart or in a doorway. I got some paint and had the kids put a handprint on the hull. Then, I wrote the kid’s name and date with a Sharpie.”
“Well, the kids grew up and got married. We put their spouses handprints on the boat. Then, they had kids and made me a grandma. Of course, the grandkids had to put their handprints on the boat, too. When we started running out of room, the grandkids were teenagers and wanted to try glow-in-the dark paint. Well, that worked out just fine, because we could squish in more handprints on top of some of the other darker colors and still be able to see both of them.”
“How old is the boat by now?”
“We changed the name to JuneBug 30 when the boat turned 30. After that, I lost track.”
“And how did the glow-in-the-dark paint work out?”
“We have the only glow-in-the-dark boat on the lake! We are asked to be in all of the holiday boat parades! And the kids and grandkids LOVE to show off JuneBug 30. Why, we were in the Fourth of July parade on dry land! We had to tow the boat on the trailer through town!”
“What’s next for JuneBug 30?”
“Keep her. She will go down through the generations with more and more and more handprints. Funny thing is, until the day he died, Ned thought I truly believed he won the boat. But he’s lousy at poker, and I balance the checkbook. I knew we never paid some guy $250 to re-paint the living room while I visited my mother in Arizona.”
Author’s note: This story came about in a serendipitous manner. For years, I taught preschool, and in preschool, handprints are a main theme in art projects. When I saw this hand-painted boat on the very lake where I first got on a boat, it all fell into place. It helped that the owner knew my grandmother. Their cottages were near to each other when I was growing up. Hope you enjoyed it!