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Friday, July 29, 2005

Walt --- A History Lesson

“You sure press hard,” I said.

“I’m sorry. This has been bugging me.” Phil replied.

“Okay, “ I replied, “Let me show you a few things.” I got up off the porch and motioned him to come. My first stop was what was left of Strickland’s Folly. It was a pile of old building material that we’d hauled out into the woods just out of sight of the house. It was a few stud walls, with shreds of this and that.

“This is sort of what started it all.” I said. “We had a guy come in here back in the early Sixties. I’m not really sure how he got in. It was a guy named Paul Strickland. Anyhow, he and your Dad and your Grandfather never saw eye to eye. Paul fancied himself an entrepreneur, and was always on the Williams and the Coopers to take this place public. When that didn’t work, he sort of co-opted the whole thing and started building out here. I guess he figured if he made enough improvements he could get the rest of the Association to go along with his plans. He built a shed. He built a bunkhouse. Finally he started building this big addition to the main building. The problem was that first off it was sort of a screwy back handed way of taking over, second it was all done in the off season when no one was here, and third, it was really shoddy, and it started falling apart as soon as it was put up.”

I saw Phil nodding, but I hadn’t really gotten into the meat yet.

“To make matters worse,” I continued, “You had Ernie Schnurman, the guy who was watching the place for us-- Paul roped him into helping. Ernie was never the brightest bulb in the pack. Paul also was running out of money, trying to finance this all himself, and he got himself a bunch of fiberboard siding. We all show up for Opening Week, and here’s this huge ugly addition on the building with the Strickland Family moved in. Mona Strickland’s re-decorated in all sorts of gawd-awful ways, and gone and painted some of the interior walls bright yellow.

“Oh, we had bodies everywhere that weekend. Those were exciting times. You’ve never seen such a mess. Your Grandpa had a heart attack right in the middle of it all and they carted him off in a meat wagon.”

“He didn’t die.” Phil said. “I know that.”

“No,” I replied. “He eventually got back on his feet. But, I’ll tell you that this place wasn’t the same after that. “

“I can imagine.” Phil said.

“No,” I said. “I don’t think you can, but it was enough to make your Dad want to never come back. Anyhow, after Paul Strickland died, the big addition he put on started to fall apart immediately. That fiberboard was just like cardboard. Within two years, all we could do was tear off what was left and patch up the big hole in the wall. The Stricklands never came back, and we sent Mona back the membership bond. At first, we painted over the yellow, and then later we paid someone to come in and sandblast it all off the logs and we revarnished them. I remember my Dad calling up yours to invite him to the grand re-opening party. He didn’t come. He paid his dues every year, but he never came back. Your Grandpa and Grandma came. They dropped in and blessed it, and then went back home, and we never saw your Grandpa again.”

“Grandpa died back in 1980.” Phil said.

“He was a grand old man, your Grandpa.” I said. “I still see him at the campfire now and again. “For a little while, I just sat there thinking about that. “It’s funny,” I said, “It’s been thirty years, but this is just like that weekend. The weather was kind of muggy and weird like this. I suspect we’re going to get the same kind of weather too.”

“What kind of weather is that?”

“Thunderstorms.” I replied. “Sort of fitting too—you coming back and all.”


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