Well, I just can’t believe it’s the end of summer. It seemed like it was just Memorial Day — the kickoff to summer, and now it’s Labor Day. Tom and I had planned to go to Lake Erie on Sunday, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so we went to Shenango Lake on Saturday. Our plan was to get there early to beat the crowds of recreational boaters, so my brother Tommy could actually wake board. We got there about 10:15 and were on the water by 10:45.
I was pretty proud that I had backed the jet ski down the ramp on the first try. Although, I was dab smack in the center of the ramp and didn’t like that position. Tommy backed his boat to my right. As the guys worked to get the jet ski and boat off the trailers, this guy with his fancy red boat attempted to squeeze it next to me on my left side. Are you kidding me? I was getting annoyed, as we were almost done and he couldn’t wait two minutes?
After I parked and walked down to the dock, the guy with the fancy red boat was still trying to get it off the trailer. There was a whole crew with him too. Two of the men were probably in their late fifties. The one who owned the boat had his wife there. And then there were two older people, probably someone’s parents with a video recorder. The elderly man was actually sitting on a chair on the loading ramp. It was a production!
I was helping Tommy with his boat — putting on the shade cover and stowing all the stuff we brought on board. Tom was waiting patiently on the jet ski. The fancy red boat finally pulled into a dock space next to where we were. I glanced over as they had obviously gotten it off the trailer. It was a sight to see for sure. It was vintage, I was sure of it — vintage from the sixties in a deep red color with an ultra gloss finish — one of those wooden boats. It looked recently restored or was kept pristine for the past 50 years. There were four seats, two facing forward and two facing the other way, back to back — and were tufted seats in a rich brown color. It definitely wasn’t made for very large people. It just reminded me of one of the toys you’d see a Kennedy owning.
It was another production as the two guys in their fifties tried to get the elderly man into the front seat. It was like jamming two men in a seat for one guy. The wife looked at me and shook her head at the production of it all. I smiled and waved at her. I wondered where the rest of them were going to sit? The older lady was on the grass now, filming with the video camera. They were all laughing and carrying on. I had to smile, because it was definitely a family affair.
The guy driving the boat looked over at Tommy and said, “are there any shallow areas we should be concerned about?” Tommy struck up a conversation and pointed to areas they should avoid. He also told them that this entire area was a no wake zone until they passed under the bridge. And we all pulled out together. Tommy looked at me and said, “That’s surely some kind of homemade boat — probably their first time on this lake,” and shook his head. I said, “No, I think it’s a 1960s speed boat of some kind. It’s definitely vintage.”
Now, the no wake zone goes a very long way, so these guys in their spiffy boat pulled up near ours and asked us a few more questions about the lake. Then they told us they just recently purchased the boat in Pittsburgh, that it was vintage sixties, and similar to a boat his dad used to own. His dad was the elderly man in the boat with him. And that this was a special trip for them — it was very important to all of them — that this would be his last ride in a boat — his last day out. As we came out of the no wake zone, they opened up and took off like a rocket, waving to me as they did. Of course, my brother did too, and I felt like we were racing for a few minutes. Their fancy red boat was practically in flight and the old man was holding onto his hat with a huge grin across his face. Then they were gone.
Later, Tom had caught up to us with the jet ski and said, “What? Were you guys racing?” and I told him the story about the old man in the fancy red boat. And the more that I thought about what they said, I wondered if the man was terminally ill, or if this was a bucket list thing. It was indeed a special day for them, and just a bit of a strange encounter for us. But I’m so glad that I got to be part of their memory, even just for a few minutes.
I had every intention of taking a picture of that spiffy red boat for you all to see. But you know, we never saw it or them again. I searched and couldn’t even find a similar boat online. We enjoyed the rest of our day, and I looked for that boat at every turn. But as fast as they pulled in beside me, they were gone. And I didn’t even know their names.
Always B E L I E V E !