April 26, 2022 – “The great voyage”

When I was around ten years old, I still lived in our restaurant on the corner of two large streets. One would eventually become a major thoroughfare.

There were no curbs or gutters back then. When the rains did finally come, the edges of the road became a vast, muddy adventure land. I lost one of a pair of rain boots to the mud once as I trekked through it looking for who knows what. Perhaps that is where this crazy idea came from.

One of my friends lived on the same road just a few houses away and I often went to visit him as part of my daily routine. I visited several neighbors on a daily basis and pestered them until they sent me on my way.

My friend Henry was a little older than I and we often ate breakfast together. His grandmother would make us great omelettes and we would eat them “Mexican style” using just tortillas as utensils.

We had her great homemade salsa to pour over the eggs as well. It was heaven for a boy who was a lover of all things food.

The little house backed up to Henry’s father s house. I often wondered why he lived with is grandmother but never asked. Surely was an interesting story there.

His father’s home and garage was the local place where his father worked and a made a living as a mechanic. I can remember the hundreds of calendar pages of naked women plastered on the walls of the garage. Sadly, I was too young to appreciate the vast beauty around me.

One day we found an old broken down door to his grandmother’s long narrow garage that had been replaced by a new door. It had been sitting in the darkness in the recesses of the garage, un molested. We both thought it would make a good raft.

We dragged it out of the garage and gave it a thorough inspection. It seemed fine to us and we proceeded to make it “water ready” for a great adventure.

We decide that we would sail or float to Catalina Island on this fine “raft.” Catalina is an Island 26 miles off the coast of California, if you weren’t aware of that.

In any event, we scrounged around in the garage and found an old can of light green paint and decide to use it for the purpose of making our raft a little more easy to spot and more water safe. We propped the door up on blocks and proceeded to spend some time painting it. I suppose the grandmother watched over us, but I have little memory of her doing that. She was a kind and clever woman and was mostly invisible to me.

She had taken in her grandson when he was no longer welcomed at his father’s home for some reason. She must have been a good woman to do that in her old age. She was a widow I suspect and it couldn’t have been easy. I have no recollection of her having a husband or seeing any man around the house, but I was young and might have missed him or he could have been at work while I visited.

The rear yard was a mystery of fruit trees, high grass and an above ground fish pond made of thick concrete formed in a two foot deep by for foot square.

Its insides were rough and covered in algae. There were floating water plants in the pool and a complete eco system. The large gold fish where all very different from one another. We watched them for hours and floated leaves in the small pond and watched them float or sink. There were smaller fish around to pester them and make their lives interesting, I suppose. I think that was my purpose in life at this time as well.

We had no idea how we would get the raft to the sea fifteen miles away or what would happen once we set off on our “Great voyage.” That didn’t matter to us. It was the work and preparation for our voyage that kept us busy and out of trouble.

Eventually we were distracted by the many sights and sounds around us and we never sailed our raft out to sea. One of those distractions was our apricots were ripening on our giant tree and we needed to climb it for its reward of fresh fruit. Perhaps that is for the better. Who knows what might have happened if we had set sail.

Instead, we lived many more years and had many more difficult and interesting adventures as young men and adults. I wish I knew where Henry was now and how life has turned out for him. I most likely will never know, but I hope he has been as fortunate as I.

This blog started out as simply a digital place to store my memories and art work. I painted the picture below along with many others. I make no claims of being a great artist or storyteller. I simply hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I do remembering them and writing them down.

What our little raft faced.