When it comes to the great outdoors, I have both my parents to thank. My dad loved to fish, so did mom and grandma. But when it came to being adventurous, mom won it hands down.
As a kid growing up we never went camping, we stayed in rented cabins at the lake. We had a boat and went most every weekend during the summer to go fishing or water skiing or exploring the back roads of the area. Often my grandmother would join us. It was a fun time to be a kid in the 50's and 60's. You could go wandering all over the place and never fear for your life.
Many times mom, dad and my brother would go out on the lake to go fishing and I would stay at the docks by myself fishing (we always had belt life preservers, had to wear them if around or in the water), when they would get back with nothing to show for their time out on the lake, I would pull up my basket and proudly show them a mess of fish, which, of course I got to clean. My brother finally got smart and would stay with me at the docks and catch fish while mom and dad got to have a bit of "alone" time.
Dad worked hard during the week and the lake was his escape. Even if we didn't go out on the boat or spend the weekend, mom would pack out the car on a Saturday afternoon, except for food, bright and very early Sunday morning she would put the food in the car and the family would make the 80 mile trek from Tulsa to Pettit Bay on Lake Tenkiller just outside of Tahlequah, OK and fix breakfast on our Coleman camp stove and watch the sun come up. Dad and I would sit on the cliffs and fish for Crappie and perch, if we caught enough, and we always did, we would fix them for dinner along with coleslaw, home fries with fish gravy.
Every year for 27 years my parents would head south to Lake Murray in southern Oklahoma just outside of Ardmore, OK. We kids would fish, swim, water ski, ride horses, play the arcade games in the lodge, bicycle ride, chase armadillos and have a grand time for a week. Our favorite cabins were the ones down on the water front near the lodge.
We (my brother and I) would be so excited that one time in anticipation I went to bed dressed ready to get up a 4 in the morning to leave. Well...mom came in to check on me, saw that I was still awake and noticed that I had the covers pulled up to my chin. Mind you, it was very warm outside, she pulled off the covers took one look at me and told me to get undressed and get to bed. I did, only to get up four hours later and get dressed, put my body in the car and go back to sleep for the 5 hour drive to the lake.
While my dad would be working at the Apparel Mart in Dallas as a Manufactures Rep., mom would put us kids in the car and proceed to teach us how to read maps as she got lost on Loop 12...on purpose. We were frightened to think that we were lost, but mom would always say, "How are you going to know what's 'round the bend if you don't go see what's 'round the bend, there might be something wonderful for you to see." Sure enough we always made it back to our starting point safe and sound. Later in the evening we would tell dad of our "Big adventure".
One year mom and dad bought some lake property at Lake Keystone just outside of Tulsa. It had three private stocked fishing holes, a boat ramp, swimming pool, tennis courts and a 9 hole par three golf course. Mom, my brother and I would drive up to the property around 4, build a fire and get dinner going. While it was cooking my brother and I would take a dip in the pool. Dad would get off of work and drive up and we would have dinner together and then go fishing. We did this about two nights a week on average.
One Sunday afternoon while dad was at a Reps. show in Dallas we decided to go to the property to go swimming. Mom saw they were building a new road and decided to explore it. That was mom...she had to know where the road went, and we found out, without running into the largest road graters and earth movers I have ever seen speeding along the unfinished roadbed sending up huge clouds of red dust. My brother and I begged mom to be careful and to turn around and go back to the main road but no, we ventured further and further, finally coming to a road that got us to our destination. Mom was fearless.
Today mom would have been 86. If she were still here she would be saying "What's 'round the next bend in the road you two?" "Are you ready to go? I am!" Happy Birthday Mom, we love you and miss you!
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