And climb the stairs to the beach...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scupper's House is Burning!

Every time Dad built a fire in the fire place, my brother and I would stare at the flames on the logs and say "Look! Scupper's house is burning!" It's an inside joke that only he and I share, my younger siblings unaware of the meaning behind it. Still today when I see a fire in a fireplace, that's what comes to mind.

Some of my earliest memories are of children's books we loved. One one of our favorite books when we were very little was about a dog named Scupper. Or so I have thought for almost 60 years now that his name was Scupper. In fact, when I Googled it, this book is all over the Internet. Perhaps it was one of your favorites too!

It was a Golden Book published in 1953, written by Margaret Wise Brown and entitled "The Sailor Dog."  During this Google session I found out that the dog's name wasn't Scupper but Scuppers. I suppose at the age of 2 or 3 toddlers might drop that last 's' when repeating it. But it's always a shock to my system when I learn that facts from my childhood are not really facts, just slightly skewed bits of information passed on by someone that we thought had to know the truth. Like when I learned that contrary to what my mother had taught me, the line in the poem is not "Home again, home again, rig-a-jig-jig". It is actually "Home again, home again, jiggity-jig." Maybe just a slight difference, but nonetheless embarrassing when you are in the midst of teaching it to your granddaughter only to be corrected mid-teach.

But I digress. The Sailor Dog starts out with this line: "Born at sea in the teeth of a gale, the sailor was a dog. Scuppers was his name." This little dog sailed the seas in a sailboat with a colorful sail that was shipwrecked at one point. He built himself a house on the shore where he landed, made of driftwood and other discarded items. At some point in the story his house must have caught on fire and thus our reference every time we saw the fire in the fireplace, crackling and mesmerizing as we sat there in our feet pajamas on the braided rug by the hearth on a cold winter's night.

Another book I just loved was called Twilight Town, written by Mary Francis Blaisdell. Does anyone remember this book? I loved to listen to my mother reading this book. It was all words, few pictures so we certainly had to use our imaginations. It was all about toys coming alive at night and for years I wanted to catch my toys in the act. The interesting thing I found out about this book is that it was written in 1913, 40 years before I ever heard it. The book my mother read from was a hard covered book, rough to the touch and musty smelling. My guess is that it had probably been my grandmother's as a child. And, unlike today, as far as I know, there were no vampires in this Twilight Town. Here is an excerpt from the Preface of the book:


My mother read to us from some other really old books when we were little, too. I still have her copy of "Billy Bunny and His Friends" by David Cory. This one was published in 1917 about 10 years before my mother was born. This might have been her book, but more likely it belonged to my grandmother's younger brother. Billy Bunny lived in the Brier patch with his family. He used a toadstool for an umbrella and got himself into all sorts of trouble. Some of these stories were terrible, when I look at them now. In one story all the little bunnies go to a moonlight dance and before they leave, Billy's mother tells him that if he hears her thump her hind feet, it means there's danger and he should freeze. "Everybody was having great fun when, all of a sudden, thump! thump! went some body's hind feet. Billy Bunny never moved. He "frooze" just where he was. But, oh dear me! There was one little bunny who didn't.  And down came Robber Nighthawk like a great black shadow and carried him off." Yikes. I won't be reading that to my Lily.

David Cory, author of Billy Bunny, started writing after being a stockbroker for 20 years. He wrote stories for his children and eventually published them in books. You can read an article written about him in 1917 and published in the New York Times by Clicking HERE.

When I think about it, the books we loved when we were little usually were fantasy and almost always about animals. I must keep that in mind when I choose what I will read to Lily and Owen, our littlest grandbabies. Last week on Facetime I told not-quite-three-year-old Lily we'd be going to the zoo when she comes for a visit. When I asked her what her favorite zoo animal is she didn't hesitate at all and responded "I like Unicorns." I told her that I was sorry but we didn't have any Unicorns at our zoo. "Well, how about zebras?" she asked. She seemed okay with that. I guess I better get to the book store and find something about Unicorns or zebras!

Leave your comments here or email me. I'd love to hear what some of your early books were. Have fun remembering them. I did. 


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Here Comes Trouble

"Here comes Trouble" says Allen, one of the bag drop guys greeting us at the curb. There's some debate over who gave us this name, Allen or the guys in the pro shop, but it seems to have stuck. Affectionately, (I think) known as Trouble 3,  My other three buddies, Trouble 1, 2 and 4 and I don't always get to play together but when we do, it is a thing of wonder. Sandy and Sue live in my building here at Heritage Bay, and Karen lives two buildings down.

Our building on Smokehouse Bay
Starting out at home, as usual we all pile into the car, all 4 bags squashed in the trunk. Some of us, in stockinged feet haven't even put our shoes on yet, but will finish dressing while we take the two mile ride to our golf course, talking non-stop as if we hadn't seen each other in a month, when in fact we'd just all had dinner along with the husbands the night before.
Karen, Sandy and me with the husbands.

On arrival, Karen instructs the bag guys as to which bag goes in which cart, who rides with who,  and who is driving the carts. You see, she must be the driver of one of the carts. There was a time when I didn't understand why she is so adamant about that. The one time I was driving and almost threw her off the bridge may have something to do with that. I guess she doesn't think about the time she put me through the windshield, stopping short when my hat blew off. During one round last fall, the bag guys put me in the driver's seat when Karen wasn't looking. Halfway through the round, which was going just terribly for poor Karen, she told me to move over. She just HAD to drive because her golf game was suffering. I have to admit, she did play better once she was back in control.  
Trouble 2 and Trouble 1

If we have to check in at the pro-shop, in we all four swoop, descending upon the men behind the counter, laughing and talking all at once. Loudly announcing our arrival, the other customers, dour faced more serious types, in other words, 'men', are taken by surprise. It's almost always early in the morning when we go out and that's usually "man" time at the golf course. Few women are up that early. So the men who are checking in usually react in one of two ways to loud, laughing women invading their sacred territory. Either they smile timidly, stepping aside lest they be upended in our wake, or they just stare at us grumpily, wondering why they allow women on the golf course anyway.

But the guys behind the counter are used to us. They know us by name, our real names not the Trouble names, and usually are happy to see us. Although I have a feeling they might let out a sigh of relief once we head out.

Sandy and husband Ron
We get our little green bag of practice balls and head to the driving range, the real fun begins. I am sure it's not acceptable behavior, but we treat the driving range as a cross between a receiving line at a wedding and a hen party.
 "Oh, look there's Anne over there. How ya doing?"
"Isn't that Deb and her husband? That golf skirt is just a little short, don't you think?"
" Ooooh, look at her shoes! They are really cute. Wonder where she got those?"
"Why did they put the practice tees so far back this morning? How are we supposed to reach those flags out there?"
Walking up and down the line of golfers trying to warm up before their rounds, we find our spots and continue our conversations as we warm up, although we are trying to behave and not distract others.

"Oh, I forgot my driver."
"Oops, I almost killed you with that one. Sorry."
And so on. 
The other Sue hams it up for the camera at lunch one day.

All of us hit a dozen or so balls to warm up, except for the other Sue who only hits two because she doesn't like to waste her good shots at the driving range. Then we head to the putting green and the Starter. Most of the Starters know us and would be disappointed if we didn't flirt a little with them. These guys are usually really nice and have learned to hold their own with us, although any new guys are a little taken aback. I have a favorite. His name is Tom but we call him Uncle Bob because he looks like Karen's Uncle Bob. He calls us his nieces, although he might even be younger than we are. I coincidentally ran into him last summer up on Cape Cod at the Kreme and Kone where we were having our favorite fried clams. Ed took our picture and I put it on Facebook. He told people that it made him feel like a celebrity.  He really is a celebrity to us and we look for him all the time. If he knows we are out on the course, he will sometimes drive out to see how we are doing at several holes during the round, stopping to chat and giving us encouragement and a chance for some more hugs or pats on the back. He really is dear.

Me and my favorite Ranger, Uncle Bob (aka Tom)
Occasionally, a ranger who doesn't know us well might mention to us that we are first out, so please try to keep up the pace. That's when I  inform him that we are also known as the 'Fast Women of Heritage Bay!' We can play 9 holes in less than two hours and are the darlings of all the course rangers because of that reputation. Never would they dare give us a warning to "keep up with the group in front of us." But they might have to give that warning to the pokey all-male foursome teeing off behind us.

Because we spend too much time talking to the starter, we seldom have time to practice putting before they tell us it's time to go. So, off we go to the first hole, which usually isn't our best because at that hour the grass is wet and the bones are stiff. (Sandy likes to go out early so we can be home before Good Morning America is over.) That's not really true but she does get us out there before dawn sometimes. She may be the reason we are known as the Fast Women. She's by far the fastest of all of us. We might be a tad serious at the first tee at the first hole. But that's about all we can manage. After that, somebody says something like "I see your ball. It's up in those hills." And Karen and I break into "The hills are alive, with the sound of music." ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ Or, "I think it's in the valley over there"...Down in the Valley, the Valley so low..." ♪ ♫ ♩ or  "It's in that gully over there." "HULLY GULLY, hully gully. hully gully.♪ ♫ ♩ ♬" We can think of a song for just about everything that happens on the golf course. Sometimes I think "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" should be our theme song. Although there are days when it would be more fitting to sing  "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." 
Karen her husband Dave and Ed and I

We do manage to play some golf between giggles and songs.And we usually try to play by the rules, although some days there might be a ball actually thrown from a particularly deep bunker. In fact, once just last week I was in one of these deep traps that was way over my head. I told everyone I was below "see" level, but believe it or not, I hit it from the sand with my pitching wedge and the ball went right in the hole. That was sweet.  Unfortunately, I didn't see it happen, being below see level and all.
Sue, (Trouble 4) and her husband Vern
And we are a little generous with the gimmes sometimes. (Not sure how to spell that.) In case you don't know, if your ball is close to the hole, just to speed things up, we might tell the player it's a gimme so they don't have to finish putting. Traditionally if it's "within the leather" meaning it is as close to the hole as the distance from the bottom of the putter grip to the putter's club head it can be a gimme in a friendly round. But one of our friends accidentally mixed up the term and ever since we've been saying: "Yeah, that's a gimme. It's in the rubber." And then we laugh, and laugh...

One of the perks of golfing here in Naples is the beautiful nature we see all around us on the golf course. Karen and I like to try to identify the flora, although we aren't very good at it. If I ask Karen what some flower is she usually has some response, although I suspect she sometimes makes things up. She is notorious for never remembering people's names, so how is it she remembers the name of a plant?

Karen identifying some flora.
Sandy is quick to spot the gators that populate the water holes. Sometimes we see deer and always see beautiful birds that still seem exotic to us non-native Floridians. Karen saw a seal once, swimming by the second hole on the Oak Course. We laughed so hard we almost peed our pants when we heard that. There are no seals at the golf course. It was an otter. And Karen and I once snuck up so close to a baby alligator that we just marveled at how close it was allowing us without moving. We were really worrying that mama gator must be around somewhere, until we realized it was a baby alligator-shaped rock. That was two years ago and we still laugh whenever we go by that rock. It's still there!
Sandy staves off the gator on the 4th hole while we tee off.

Sandy is probably the most consistent of the four of us. She stays in the fairway,  putts well and is most likely to have the lowest score. She's also the best audience for any comedy routines that might crop up at any given moment. Her laugh is infectious. When I play, I am all over the place, usually one of the two longest drives is mine, but I always have the highest number of putts. I try to make more jokes than putts, but it doesn't always work out that way. Karen's a long hitter and when she is on her game, she is a force, although she has some sort of attraction to sand traps.

Karen's hole in one!
I was with Karen when she got a hole in one on a par three not long ago. That was really exciting. I've won money with her in league play a few times. Always because I am just lucky. Sue is a better player than she thinks she is but she gets unhinged whenever she has a bad shot or two and we all act as her cheerleaders, knowing exactly how she is feeling. And we usually can get her laughing before the hole is done.

Trouble 2, 3 and 4 also had fun off the course when we tapped into our artistic side. Talk about funny!
I must apologize to the serious golfers out there, the folks who are out to win and might not understand our behavior. To them the way we act might be considered blasphemy, at least against the Golf gods. There are times when we can be more serious players. If we are in a tournament or playing on league day, we generally behave ourselves and might reign it in a little, albeit very difficult. And there are days when the game itself is very frustrating. But when the four of us are together out there, we have no control over our behavior. Something takes over and we are just incapable of passing up the chance to laugh. We do get serious when we are actually hitting the ball, but between strokes, there ain't no way! And, there are even days when we just can't hit anything the way we want to and we just want to quit. At those times the pat phrase is "It's just a game." But you know what? When the four of us play, it's so much more than that!

Have a great day, and lots of laughs!

Search This Blog