parents and siblings 3.4

3.4: Recall family outings.  Where did you go together? What was fun? What was not? Try to cite a number of examples. Then focus on one specific memory. 

We went to church.  That was not fun. We went to Campbells and skated on the ice rink Floyd built in the backyard.  That was fun. We went out to dinner.  That was not fun. We went to visit our paternal grandparents. Playing in the barn was fun. Lying in the grain bin was fun. Using the outhouse was not fun. Spending the night there was not fun. We visited our maternal grandparents, who lived in a house trailer next to a gravel pit. We played down by the water in the gravel pit. That was fun. We waited for the long Sunday afternoon visits to be over. That was not fun.  We went to the lake. That was fun. Family reunions on our mother’s side of the family, so many cousins we saw only once a year, if that, not much fun. We went to the Saginaw County Fair. That was fun. 

One Sunday in March or April, when we were just getting started in the boating phase of our family life, dad decided we should put the boat in the water and have a boat ride. I think he had just bought the boat and was eager to try it out. I know it was Spring because it had been raining hard and the river was high. Yes, river. That would be a perfectly good place to take a boat ride. No one boated in our river, the Tittabawasee. It was too hideously polluted. The stretch of river we knew didn’t even have a boat launch. That Sunday we drove twenty minutes over to Bay City, pulling the 14 foot boat behind us, to the Bay City River, which was connected to the Saginaw River, which was connected to the Tittabawasee River, which mile and miles, hours and hours upstream, on a spot I associated with safety, was where our house was.

It was a cold, overcast day. The wide river seemed high. The dark water in the current moved fast. When we floated away from the dock, dad started the outboard motor and pointed the boat upstream, in the direction of Saginaw. My brother and I probably wanted to go fast. We didn’t go fast. We just fought the current. Even more, my brother and I probably just wanted to get out of the boat and go home. There were buoys in the water, markers for freighters that brought coal and ironto  the foundry up river near Saginaw. That day a freighter was coming down stream, an encounter I don’t think our dad had reckoned with; an encounter that meant a huge freighter wake and turmoil in the current. We yielded, meaning we got the hell out of the way as best we could, but I recall our little boat being buffeted, tossed about in what felt like a total loss of control. Dad, I remember thinking, what are we doing here? This is not safe. I’m afraid.

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