My sister Laurie posted this photo onto her Facebook, and it made me smile.
It's a photo of the two of us, and I'm appalled by the fact that it looks like I'm losing my hair in the photo, even though I'm only five years old. I had lots of hair, really I did. Long, flowing locks of hair. Of course, it was all armpit hair, which was really embarrassing for a kid that age. Imagine having long flowing armpit hair at five years old. Oy, the cruel jokes that I had to endure!
Okay, I'm just kidding about the armpit hair. Honestly, I think we had just gone swimming before the photo was taken.
We both think that the photo was taken at what we used to call the "Old McDonald house." This was a beach house located in Cape Cod that my parents rented for the summer every year, when we were growing up. It was located in the very entrance to Cape Cod proper, Falmouth.
My dad, being a teacher at the time, had the summers off, so we'd rent the place for long stretches. I want to say we stayed there for a month at a time, but for a child, time moves so slowly. It could actually have been only a week, for all I know.
The owner of the beach house was a man named Mr. McDonald. He was in his early sixties, thin, kind of gruff. We didn't see much of him. I believe that his beach house was split in two: he lived in one half, rented out the other side. Kept his side of the house locked off from us, and we rarely ever saw him.
I was always fascinated by that locked door. I wondered why it was locked and what was on the other side. I used to pretend that it contained a monster, and that lock was put on the door to protect us.
I have fond memories of the place. The feel of the warm sun-baked sand in my toes. Making sand castles. Jumping off the dock, into the sea. Wicker furniture and terry cloth towels. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that always managed to contain the grit of beach sand.
One time, when I was eight or so, I thought it would be funny to pretend to drown. I swam out to a boat, and started kicking and screaming. Submerged my head, underneath the boat, to see if could attract attention.
My mother was less than amused.
At the start of the trip, we'd all pack into Dad's car...whatever it was at the time. I remember, there was a Dodge Duster that dad was incredibly proud of. The first day he bought it was for one of our summer trips. He showed it off that day, and the four kids thought it was just terrific. It had a great new car smell.
Trouble was, in those days, the smallest kids always sat in the passengers side front, and not in baby carriers. So Tommy, who was one at the time, sat on my mom's lap on the ride, all the way from North Eldredge to the beach house. He was teething at the time. Mom didn't notice much as he spent the entire trip, chewing on Dad's console, like a dog with a chew toy. Those little bite marks didn't come out of dad's brand new car, either.
My dad was less than amused.
We probably rented the beach house, at most, four or five times, after which, my father ended up buying his own summer place in Falmouth. Still, the McDonald house has a special place in my heart, simply because it calls up memories of endless summer days and swimming in the ocean, free of any worries.
In the midst of a cold New England winter, it'd sure be nice to be relaxing in a summer place like that. It'd even be better to go back to a time when I was shorter, to curl my toes in that warm summer sand, and jump off that dock. I'm curling my toes, just thinking about it, and ready to jump in that ocean...right about...now.