An eMOTIONal ruling from mom

Mom couldn’t stand any sort of motion. As a 3 or 4 year old, I would try to sit next to her on the front porch glider on York Avenue. I had to sit stock still because the slightest motion of that glider would bother her immensely. Maybe it was an inner ear problem.

Now, let’s zoom ahead to the summer of 1944: I was 8 years old and it had been 2 years since our little family had been able to visit the east coast because of wartime gasoline rationing and tire shortages. Dad really missed deep sea fishing and motoring along on the little cruiser that we had use of for a few weeks back before the war.

Dad was friendly with a local Warren merchant (Bill) who owned a 40-foot Wheeler yacht that slept eight. It was at the Sandusky Boat Basin on Lake Erie. Somehow, through a little wheeling and dealing that Dad did so well, Bill agreed to let Dad, Mom, my sister and me stay and live aboard that tied up yacht for a week. Of course, a trip or two around Lake Erie with Bill piloting was also in the plan. Mom gamely agreed to try this little scheme.

After a look around inside this beautiful yacht, Mom sat on the edge of a bunk for a few moments. “Nope!” she said, “There’s too much rocking on this boat. We can’t stay here.” I could detect absolutely no motion at all, but Mom’s words were final. We weren’t going to stay on that boat. However, in my young mind I suspected that her inspection of the tiny little bathroom (head) was the real deal breaker.

Dad, problem solver that he was, knew of another Warren business man — his name was Bill, too — who had a little cottage named Peggy in a nearby members-only community. So, we gathered our belongings and moved in with Bill; his wife, Kay; her father, Ted; and her brother, Ted, Jr.

This place was fabulous! It had a clay tennis court, bicycle rentals, an outdoor electric train layout across the road, a concrete pier that jutted out into the water, and a clean, sandy beach. But it had a huge sign that warned that anyone of a certain ethnicity was not welcome or allowed to visit! Even at 8, I still felt the unfairness of that sign’s posted ruling. I had heard about Nazi Germany.

Bill, the owner of the boat, planned to take us all to Put-in-Bay, on an island called South Bass a few miles north across the water from Sandusky. We spent a lovely afternoon at Put-in-Bay, went to the top of Perry’s Monument, had some good food, did a little shopping and rented bikes to explore some of the island.

In the late afternoon, we decided to head back to the mainland. Although the weather was perfect, the lake had kicked up some tremendous waves. Foamy water crashed over the bow, and we seemed caught in the troughs between the waves. Sixteen-year-old Ted wound up in the head, very seasick. Eventually, all aboard were quite queasy except for two people. Mom sat in a very high captain’s chair and I stood by her side. Neither one of us became even slightly motion sick. I think I was too young and too thrilled with the adventure, while Mom, who barely moved a muscle, sat rigidly in that chair throughout the whole ordeal.

Bill became quite frustrated with his seamanship, so Dad took over the helm. Dad tried turning the yacht into the waves in a quartering fashion, which seemed to stabilize the boat a bit. So, we zig-zagged all the way back to port.

We made it back safely. All aboard were quite relieved to be back on dry land.

When we got back home from our vacation, I caught Mom quietly swinging on the glider. I never let on that I had caught her enjoying the gentle back and forth swinging of that glider.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com.


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