Friday, September 08, 2006

It was all about Chautauqua Lake for me

What I remember
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
LAKEWOOD, New York - As fall creeps in, even here in California, I'm reminded of how important Chautauqua Lake was to me.

Right after Labor Day was when the boats and docks came out of the water and the boots and heavy jackets out of the closet.

My mother was fearful of the roads, so she bought me a fairly clunky bicycle, but she didn't skimp on the boats. Oh no! I started wth a rowboat at 10, had a small ski boat at 12, a larger one (with a 50 HP Mercury engine) by the time I was 14 and traded it all in for a sailboat my first year of college.

A sailboat! That was the beginning of a 40-year-love affair that keeps me busy nearly every weekend all year long.

Even then I traced the path down Lake Chautauqua from my house in Lakewood, past Celeron, down that windy river (is it a river?) through Jamestown, leading you (if you figure out how to get your boat past several dams) to the Atlantic Ocean. My grandmother (who lived in New York City) gave me a world atlas when I was 13 and I studied it as carefully as any of the Playboy magazines we were able to find. (Hey! I studied the articles. Come on!)

I wish I had actually gotten into sailing earlier, but the then-Lakewood Yacht Club was a closed social circle that I couldn't really crack. It was one of the few places I remember that I was barred from (outside of the bars we tried to sneak into starting about age 16). And for some years, that probably accounted for my having a bad attitude about yacht clubs.

Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club
Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club today

I got over that notion in California and have paid enough yacht club dues to four different yacht clubs in California and Puerto Vallarta to buy a pretty nice boat, if I didn't already own one.

I sailed out of the Lakewood Yacht Club just once - aboard a small Sunfish owned by Sandy Carlson (Class of '67), who was a good sailor and couldn't believe that I barely knew a rudder from a centerboard. We headed out late in the day and as the sun set, the wind dropped and we were becalmed, easily a mile from the club dock on one of those warm summer evenings that made the lake such a special place in the summer.

I should have recognized the tactic on her part. I mean, I was always pretending to run out of gas on my ski boat on those rare occasions I actually had a date. But I was as dense then as I am now about such things, so I just started paddling us in instead of having a romantic interlude.

It was a very quiet cruise back to the dock and I just thought Sandy was angry because we were becalmed.


At our reunion I had several conversations with people about the lake - mostly that there was a clear social division between people who lived in Lakewood and those who lived elsewhere. See? Elsewhere. That's how geocentric life was for me.

And, I have a confession. I have never driven to - or though - Busti. No kidding. Not once.

Sorry Bob and Donna Swanson. I'll rectify that next summer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taking a tour of Southwestern Central High

Welcome sign
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
JAMESTOWN, N.Y. - One regret I have about our Class of '66 reunion (aside from the headache I had on Sunday) was not going by the high school and checking it out.

I would have liked to walk the halls and see if they are as huge as I remember, or if that evil aura still exists right outside the principal's office.

Regardless, the photos here come from Lee Anderson and this is an excerpt from his note to me:

My sister, Carin - class of 1961, attended her 45th reunion at the end of July and she sent me some pictures of the school. They went up to the school and were allowed to walk around. Thought you might like to see them.

I sure hope we can do an annual picnic get-together. I would enjoy talking to everyone in a more relaxed setting. It was nice a Webb's but way too loud. Must be my old age. :-)


Front entrance
Front Entrance

Alma Mater
The Alma Mater

Had I gone to the school, I could have checked out the practice fields for softball and soccer where, on the weekends, we would drive around on our motorcycles, jumping some of the hills. It was on one of those hills that Cindy Hall slid off the back of my bike and landed smack dab on her ass.


Luckily, she was fine, just (as they say) her pride hurt. My pride was hurt a little, too, by my poor hill-jumping skills, but not like Cindy's.

I would have also like to have gone down the hill to the football field and track and listened for the sound of the crowds I remember from the track meets. I can still hear the voice of Coach Joe Rushin as I would round the turn headed to hand off the relay baton to Larry Nelson.


Maybe next summer I'll stop by the track when I'm in town for our mini-reunion. That seems like it will probably be the second or third weekend in July. And depending on when the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club regatta is, I might be there both weekends.

More on that another time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Noelani Rupp takes to the sidewalks

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vermont - I received this photo a couple of days ago of John & Paula Rupp's daughter Noelani, taking off on one of her first excursions on her bicycle. If she is anything like her father, those training wheels will come off very soon and before her mother knows it, she will be pedaling down the street and around the corner - without permission, of course.

John had one of the first motorcycles in the group I hung around with in high school, a Honda 65 that he lent to just about anyone who asked if they could borrow it.

He usually failed to ask an important operant question: Can you ride a motorcycle? So more than once, his bike got smashed and had to be repaired. And, of course, he did a few crashes himself.

Iborrowed it once, promptly crashing into Linda Davidson's front yard where I dug a small trench with the kickstand ( Was it Marvin Avenue in Lakewood?). I quickly removed myself and the motorcycle before anyone came outside. Tom Todaro (Jerry Todaro's younger brother) then borrowed it from me, promptly crashing into a fence across the street from Cindy Hall's house. It's a wonder that motorcycle ran at all.

Paula reports that she and Noelani are settling back in at home now, with pre-school looming and lots of activities for Paula, too, including taking a water safety instuctor's course so she can teach swimming to the little ones.

As sad as I am about John Rupp's early passing, it's a gift to be able to stay in touch with his young family.

Go Noelani! Go!