My husband recently bought a boat. It’s a very functional patrol boat that he plans to use with his Coast Guard Auxiliary unit on local lakes and rivers. But it is available for our personal enjoyment as well. Last week I drove our boat for the first time—I’ve rarely driven a motor boat for the last forty years.
My dad had a boat when I was in junior high and high school, and I drove it years before I learned to drive a car. The thrill of speeding across the water, sitting in the baking sun as we skim toward the horizon—those were familiar sensations last week, bringing back memories of many good times during my teenage years.
For several years, my father kept his boat primarily on Coeur d’Alene Lake in Idaho. We took it to our cabin in May, and it stayed there until Labor Day. But when he first got it, when I was in junior high, we used it mostly on the Columbia River near our home. The Columbia near Richland, Washington, is wide and deep, and there are several islands where boats can be beached. We waterskied on the river, then stopped on an island for a picnic lunch and sunbathing. When the required thirty minutes after lunch had passed, we resumed skiing.
I remember taking the boat out on July 20, 1969. I can recall sitting on a rocky gravel bar in the Columbia, drinking Pepsi, and listening to the radio coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It was hot and sunny by the river. Its swift, cold water flowed past me endlessly. I couldn’t imagine the stark lunar surface that Neil Armstrong was about to encounter.
The historic moon walk didn’t take place until evening local time—about 9:00pm, I think. By that time, our family was back home from our boating adventure. In fact, I was out babysitting some neighbor kids. This family had two of the orneriest grade-school boys I’d ever known, plus a toddler girl. After the little girl went to bed, the boys and I watched the grainy black and white television picture as Neil Armstrong took his giant step. A short while later, we saw the film Armstrong took of Buzz Aldrin touching down.
From a new boat to an old boat to the moon. Memory flows more swiftly than the river, and forty-six years slip away in a moment.
What recent experience have you had that brought back old memories for you?