My dad, a teacher, loved his summers off, and nothing gave him more pleasure than fishing. For many years, our family rented a cottage on a quiet lake in Maine, and, when that era was over, Dad took to fishing on Rye Lake in Westchester.
All eight of us kids learned to row a boat at an early age and would often join Dad on his fishing excursions. Sometimes, it was a pleasure to be out on the lake with him, learning to fish. Other times it was a punishment for some infraction when he decided that some of our negative energy could best be worked out by rowing him around the lake in silence.
Dad taught us how to place the oars in the oarlocks, to stand and push off from shore with one oar, and then to row with both oars in unison. I loved to see the blades dip into the reedy lake water as we glided across Pleasant Pond. I learned to steer backward and forward, and to pull the oars into the boat and just anchor for a while in a good fishing spot. Sometimes we would pull ashore in a spot where the ground was clay, dig up a bucket of it, and take it home for afternoon craft projects. Like riding a bike, rowing is a skill that comes right back to you even after many years.
I was only 5 or 6 during the final years we summered in Maine, but I distinctly remember pulling up little sunfish, removing them from the hook and throwing them back in. Less delightful was hooking one of those ugly lake catfish! Ugh! I was happy to throw them back. Dad was in search of a good-sized bass or pickerel, maybe something we could cook for dinner. A few of the really big ones were taken to the taxidermist, treated and placed on a plaque to adorn his study at home. Each would be proudly labeled with the place and date of his catch. My brother Paul, who shared Dad's love of fishing, inherited some of those plaques and displays them in his California home.
We stopped going to Maine when my older siblings became teenagers and had jobs in the summer. In the years after that, Dad would sometimes take me with him on his trips to Rye Lake, also called Kensico Reservoir, in Westchester. Perhaps this was to give Mom a break from my summertime whining: "I'm bored. There's nothing to do!" I would bring along a good book to enjoy while sitting in the boat in case I got bored with fishing.
We rode in the 1939 Chevy on the Boston Post Road until we came to a little bait shack. Both of us would go in and select from the variety of worms available. Big fat night crawlers were the best. Of course, Dad also had a tackle box full of fishing flies and knew which ones were best suited for the fish he was seeking.
He kept a rowboat chained to a tree in the woods by the lake and we would drag it down and set off. He showed me how to break the wriggly worm in half and place it on the hook. No point wasting a whole worm on the little perch or sunnies I might catch! Those were quiet expeditions. We would take turns rowing, or I might just sit there looking down into the greenish water at little schools of killifish. At lunch time, he would open the box of sandwiches and a thermos of iced tea. If nature called, he would pull the boat over to shore and direct me to just run up into the woods a ways to take care of things.
Dad did a lot of informal teaching on these trips . . . about the varieties of fish in the lake and the plants on the shore, about the proper way to cast for fish and how to reel them in, and about which fish to keep and which to throw back.
As a child, he had spent time with relatives in Westchester in the summers, and he could tell me about the towns in the area. His uncle Eugene, it turned out, had been an early police chief in Bedford.
We didn't talk much on those trips. Both of us were rather quiet people, but I have wonderful memories of contented days just rowing and fishing with Dad.
--Alice Clegg Wolfteich, Atlantic Beach
AN INSIDE-THE-PARK HOME RUN
In 1959, my dad took me to my first Yankees game. Mickey Mantle hit a home run and I was hooked! We went to the Bronx from Forest Hills by subway for 15 cents.
Dad bought box seats behind home plate for $3. A scorecard was 15 cents, but I can't remember the prices of food items. I was only 7 years old! On the way home, we stopped at Howard Johnson's, and I got multiple scoops of ice cream with toppings for 50 cents.
Things have changed. On July 6, I took my little family to the Yankees-Orioles game; eight of us, including my wife, two daughters and their husbands, my youngest daughter and future son-in-law, plus, my 2-year-old granddaughter.
Parking was $35 (really!). I bought the tickets back in January to absorb the blow of what would be spent at the game. The tickets cost just over $500 with fees. A scorecard/program was $10 (it's only $5 at Citi Field). My kids had bought me a $40 debit card for my birthday to use at the game. There was a "meal deal" -- a foot-long hot dog, a bag of peanuts and a medium-size drink in a commemorative cup for $15.50.
The food item that my kids really wanted was garlic fries. They cost $7 for a medium-size order.
Not all of my children are Yankees fans, and my wife is a Mets fan, but I think everyone enjoyed the day. No matter the cost of things, everyone should see Yankee Stadium once in their baseball life. My granddaughter had a nap for about four innings but was awake at the end to see the Great [Mariano] Rivera save the game!
So, to paraphrase a slogan by a major credit card company . . . a Yankee game with my entire family: priceless!
--Marc Young, Floral Park
WAR, PEACE AND THE LOVE OF MY LIFE
In 1942, I was 16 years old, living in Bay Shore. It was a busy town; plenty of jobs and people.
First place I worked was Liggett's drugstore, behind the lunch counter. The "mayor" of Bay Shore used to come in for a cup of coffee and leave a 25-cent tip. We all wanted to wait on him. In the middle of town, we had Liggett's, Whelan's drugstore, Dr. King's Hospital. Cortland House was a big hotel where the soldiers hung around.
On top of Whelan's was a room used for the USO where the soldiers and girls could meet and dance. Down that street, the P.T. boats came in with their crews. The soldiers were stationed in Brentwood at Mason General Hospital, which was later a part of Pilgrim State Hospital.
My husband was stationed at Mason General as an orderly. We met at Liggett's. I also worked at Woolworth's, behind the candy counter. On Friday nights it was busy -- people buying candy to take to the movies across the street.
I ended up working at Paradise Silk, a dry goods store run by Mr. and Mrs. Feurstein. I got $35 a week and had to give my mother $15 of it.
In 1945, I married my husband, Charles. We had a boy and girl, and saw more than 50 wedding anniversaries.
--Irene Turner, Central Islip