I had a chance recently to revisit a place I hadn’t been since I was 11 or 12 years old. My great aunt and uncle had a house at Thousand Islands Park on Wellesley Island. The house was right on the park, too, across from the dock.
Back in the day we’d go there for a few days late in the summer when a lot of the extended family was gathered. You could sit and rock on the big, wrap-around porch, or hang in the hammock that was always strung between two of the corner porch pillars.
Every morning Uncle Chuck would take all the kids out on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the boat for a fishing trip. I don’t remember what kind of fish we caught, but we always caught something, and whatever we caught we’d be responsible for cleaning as soon as we got back. It’s where I learned to fillet a fish.
There were picnics most afternoons on one or another of the islands and MAS*H reruns on an old black-and-white TV in the kitchen when Aunt Bertha was cooking. I spent a lot of time at the park playground.
On the return visit, we could see the house but couldn’t go in. It’s still in the family. Chuck and Bertha died a while ago now, and their grandchildren own it and rent it out most weeks.
We walked around, checked out the dock and had lunch at the Wellesley Hotel. After lunch, the kid wanted to try out the playground. Some of the playground equipment is the same stuff I played on 40 years ago. (They’ve since added a lot of new stuff.)
I’m not usually nostalgic, but that day seemed almost magical. Memories, good ones, I haven’t thought of in years.
I know it wasn’t all roses. Vacations, and especially memories of childhood ones, are prone to a view through rose-colored lenses. It was the 1970s. The cold war was on. There was a gasoline shortage. There was an Iranian hostage crisis. All that.
But on a hot sunny day in late May it’s the warm and sunny memories that come to mind. That’s probably a good thing.