When I was little, some people’s families would go to Disneyland–or Cancun, or Florida–anywhere more exciting than Delaware. But looking back there was no place I would have rather spent my childhood summers than this little house on Rt. 1.
It took 4 hours to get there by blue Chevy station wagon (3 once they put the Blue Route in–although it was an eternity to kids crammed into the back of a car on 17th round of “are we there yets”).
It always happened the same way. We’d hit this one bend in the road, still a mile away, and the dogs would go crazy. They could smell the fun and the familiar and the chicken coops and the heavy salt air and Gam’s brownies.
So could we.
I can remember pulling up and hugging Gam–who was always wearing a handmade kerchief and matching apron–and sitting down for the typical “welcome ” dinner of chicken noodle soup and chicken salad.
And then frogging, as soon as it got dark.
Yes, frogging. My favorite . . .
It doesn’t take much to amuse the Wilson girls, and the ability to fill buckets with toads and frogs (which came out in droves at night and sang the most wonderful songs as you were drifting off to sleep) was about much fun as a kid could ask for.
Once Patty and Merry and I made a bet that we could catch 100 frogs. We failed miserably and only got 75–which is still kind of a big deal, and still kind of gross. Especially when you factor in that they all got good-night kisses. (Fairytales lie, by the way.)
As soon as morning hit, Captain Crunch and Tropicana down, we’d don our swim suits and sunscreen and head off to the most wonderful places.
Like “Chris’ Pool” . . . where we learned to swim, and do cannon balls, and fish frogs out of the gutters . . .
Or the beach . . . where we once lost Merry, and I gave up my pacifier because a seagull stole it, and we ate hot dogs and cheese sandwiches covered in sand . . .
We’d bring them home in the back of Pop’s old black pick up truck and bring them back to Gam’s–which was kind of scary, especially that one time all the bushels toppled over and Patty and I were attacked by a bunch of angry crustaceans.
Then Gam would wash em off, cover them in Old Bay and boil them up.
(All in this same pail, which had some other uses.)
And yes those are my lanky legs.
When we were sunned out, let’s not forget the old exercise equipment on the “fake grass” carpeted front patio.
Other things to remember:
Going to Hockers for ice cream and eating it on the hood of Pop’s pick up
Learning to drive on the dirt road (Everyone but me–I was scared)
The wonderful mentality of keeping a pot of coffee on for drop-in guests–seemed there were always friends dropping by to visit.
The smell of the hog houses and chicken coops
Bringing home a bunch of chicken feet to scare Gam–and how it didn’t work
All the stray cats she used to feed
Going to church with Gam–seeing her lead a conga line down the aisle
Breakfast at that same kitchen table–where Gam would pour her coffee and tell me “I won’t talk to you if you won’t talk to me.”
The time Jacky got lost in the corn fields . . .
Taking the dogs for long walks
How Pop would come through the door with two grocery bags–he loved running to the store, my dad still does
The little kids’ amusement park on the boardwalk
How weird it is (and kind of cool, I guess, in a weird way) that Gam’s kept a photo of me, 2 years old, squatting naked on a log. She says I look like a “wood lymph.” (You mean a wood nymph, Gam? — Yes, that’s what I mean.)
Pizza at Grottos
Going to pick blueberries and homemade blueberry pie
“Miss Connie” and “Mr Joe” and “Chris and Heather” — owners of the pool we got water-logged in day after day, because they were nice enough to let us use it
Watching old Hollywood musicals on VCR — Music Man
How “grown up” I felt when she thought I would enjoy watching the Maltese Falcon
Being so disappointed when they started putting up housing developments and inlets for boats
Etc. . .