Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Camptown Raceway Sing this Song

When my kisters and I were kids, we had a camper in our back yard. We had it for years. It was just one of those old pop-ups, with all the itchy foam bedding. It wasn't new, and I swear, we never actually camped in it. We had gone camping with my uncle and dad and cousins once, a trip with 5 kids and two adults crammed in an old half station wagon/half jeep wrangler (with the required paneling on the sides ---what was THAT all about?)with my Uncle's camper attached to the back (No, kids, you can't sit in the camper instead of being piled on top of one another---the camper could come loose and then you'd be rolling away from the car at great rates of speed--hmmm, maybe that's not such a bad idea) ...Anyway, half way through the drive TO camping my cousin Laurie decides to do some kind of imitation of something that involved putting those fat little Tootsie Rolls up her nose....In a hot, over crowded car, in one hundred degree heat....THAT was a lot of fun, watching my uncle try to pry the melted little messes out of her nostrils(apparently they only melted at the bottoms!)

Any way, after that wonderful excursion, my father just had to buy one for ourselves, so we could all enjoy the benefits of spending quality time together in the GREAT OUT DOORS. I guess the thought of that alone scared the heck out of my folks, because that little camper never hit the highway! It just sat in the same spot in the back yard, probably longingly looking at all the other campers happily being towed away to exotic places by carfulls of smiling happy families who enjoyed spending quality time together in the GREAT OUT DOORS

That's not to say it didn't have its purpose. That trailer became the after hours hang out for the Cleveland ave crew that summer. My kisters would have cousins over and we would hold sleep overs out there. And after certain cousins finally fell asleep, the neighborhood boys would attempt to leap over our four foot chain link fence (without touching it, thereby waking our dog (a mangy mutt) or worse, waking our mother (a trained attack mom). After several leaps and bounds over the fence, and endless laughing and giggling, we inadvertently woke the sleeping cousin just several feet away, who then proceeded to tell us that BOYS IN THE CAMPER would not be tolerated and that this kind of behaviour was UNACCEPTABLE. Mind you, this cousin was the same age as my kisters, just not as much fun at the time.....
Well, just as she was THREATENING to wake our mother who would surely disapprove, my mother's voice boomed from inside the camper saying "I think you should ALL shut up and go to sleep now!" We all started looking around, to notice that my mother was not even in the trailer, or outside it's flimsy screen door. Now all mothers think they are omnipresent, but this was a stretch even for MY mom.
Well, after a thorough search of the quarters (done ever so quietly as to not raise the savage mom again), we found an intercom that my mom had so thoughtfully placed in the camper earlier....I guess all those times of silent leaping over the fence wasn't quite so silent after all!

Any way, for some unknown reason, just like the camper's sudden arrival in our yard, it was swiftly sold and removed...... If I didn't know better, I'd think my folks were on to something....

Now, we take our kids camping on the beach every Memorial and Labor day weekends...and there's always a mess of other families and kids with us... It makes me think fondly of those old camper days.... It particularly struck home one year when my then 15 year old son and his friend got caught with two girls and a six pack in their tent... I think I sounded just like my mother (shudder) as I ranted about respect and reponsibility-- but these kids have it easy today---they didn't even have to leap over a four foot fence!

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