3.13.2006

florida


on vacation in florida
lots going on
lots going on in my head

been meaning to blog
but the dial up concept is a bit of a drag
on top of that I forgot my camera
my wife has a little point and shoot
but the digital delay makes for a bit of a crap shoot with the results

the cycling culture here in florida has its share of characters
while in fort myers visiting my 96 year old grandmother I saw many images worth capturing
yet I lacked the camera
so I am dependent upon my memory

meant to bring a tape recorder for my meeting with my grandmother
but did not have it on hand for capturing that bit of oral history
as it turns out our afternoon did not have the flashbacks to her youth that I was counting on
the time in the car she spent more time trying to "shoosh" my younger son
then, the time at the bbq rib joint was spent chewing some classic florida bbq
when we returned home all that could have been recorded was the sound of us snoring in tandem
the pork platter knocked me out
put on a dvd for dean
lisa walked grant around the neighborhood
my grandmother and I sat down
we started to talk
then the lazy-boy chair took hold of me
before I knew it we each had our heads back and we were snoring in tandem
guess we needed it

it is always great to see my grandma
may go see her again this week if time dictates such
but I do not feel as if I "must" step away from my family and our beach vacation
as I was down here a month ago for her 96th birthday

while at my grandmother's I saw all sorts of wonderful images of people covering the flat land by bicycle
older types pushing their three wheelers at a slow pace with cargo in the back
rednecks without the cash flow or with revoked licenses moving down the roadside on three speeds
small children wearing a path around the family trailer on their BMX bikes
so much to see
so much worth photographing

these images bring back so many memories
not my my redneck youth
but rather of my childhood visits to florida
every summer for a number of years after my parents moved to florida my brother and I would be sent down to florida for a few weeks to a month
there was lots to do
there was nothing to do

grandma had a three wheeler
grandpa had a three speed huffy
I remember each morning my grandfather rolling down the driveway into the street to go and get the paper each day
I remeber seeing his tall muscular body with a belly that looked like a watermelon had grown inside of it mounting that bike
rigid and slow like most men over 70 he would get onto the bike

with authority he would drop in down the driveway and corner with confidence
his thick head of hair blowing in the breeze created by his own momentum

those bikes offered a great source of entertainment for the grandchildren when they came to visit
the novelty of putting the three wheeler on two wheels was never lost
yet the superior speed of the three wheeler tended to be prefered
we never went far
we just roamed the gated complex where my grandparents lived

the bikes were used for transport
the bikes were used for sport

we rode to each of the swimming pools in this wonderful little trailer park
we rode to each of the club houses that had pool tables and car tables

we created games with the bikes
a favorite game that my brother and I had created was a simple game of tag
the person on the tricycle was released first
while the other person stayed back and counted

I forget what the count was
perhaps just enough for the three wheeler to get away
as it was more a game of hide and seek than actual chase

one time my brother and I were deep in this game of chase
using every inch of trailer park
taking every curve
using every turn to escape the other

I was on the three speed while marc was on the three wheeler
we were riding through a section where the street grid got tighter and there were more turn options
like the coyote chasing the road runner I kept getting caught on a bridge over a creek
while I could see my brother a block away on an alternate bridge over the same creek
with this game of cat and mouse I chased
as I closed in fast on where I thought he was heading I made the turn
there he was
like a turtle on its back
looking to the sky along side the bike on the black asphault road

we laughed
I think I giggled hysterically till nearly peeing myself
I helped my brother up
the set the bike upright
it was then that we noticed that the mailbox had been knocked askew
each identical alluminum house had a matching mailbox with a red flag and a white light
all the mailboxes stood errect in a row
except for this one
this one was standing at a 45 degree angle
we tried to right the mailbox
but it would not stand straight
not knowing what to do we fled

upon mounting the bike my brother learned that the fork was bent
the bike was unridable
we walked the bike home is shame and in fear
once home we decided we would sleep on things before we told grandpa what had happened

later that night our grandfather returned from somewhere doing something
not sure what
but when he walked onto the porch he entered the room with determination
without having time to notice the bike he asked about the mailbox
there must be over a thousand houses in this complex
each having a mailbox
how did he happen to see this mailbox
and
how or why would he think with such great confidence that we had something to do with the destruction of this property?

it was a shameful moment
we had failed our grandfather
a lump formed in my throat
a sickness overtook my stomach

honestly... I think my grandfather felt as bad about things as we did
somehow we had let him down

22 years have passed since that night
my grandfather has been dead for the majority of that sum
the other day after returning from the Pharmacy with my grandmother we took the rear entrance to my grandmother's mobile home village

as my grandmother gave me directions
turn her
take this left
then go...
I assured her that I knew the way to her house
then I told her that we were right around the spot where we had knocked over the mailbox
grandma got a giggle as she recalled the story

if we had only known then that we would laugh about it later
it would not have hurt so much
yet... in some ways it still hurts to know I let my grandfather down
it was really nothing
but somehow it was a failure of character that we had not approached him before he had approached us

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