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To you this may just be a simple black cabin with a red chimney on some river. But to our family, this is “The Cabin.”
The Cabin exists in the memories of 5 generations of our family as the home of Joe and Bettie Kane. We fortunate few called them Boppie and NaNa. Many of my childhood memories took place here at The Cabin. My parents got married here. I learned to swim here. I caught my first fish in the trout stream here. I got pecked in the head by a chicken here. I learned that fresh dill and chives were awesome in cottage cheese, and fresh picked mint helps an upset stomach here. Against the wishes of my parents, I jumped off the cliff behind the garage into the sand here. I have many many memories…here are a few…
NaNa had a huge vegetable garden. When I was small (I want to say 5…maybe 6 years old) I wanted to help her so she had me pulling weeds with her. But I pulled plants too. So she sat me in the potatoes and showed me how to kill potato bugs with my fingernails, while she replanted her vegetable plants. It’s most likely the reason I don’t fear bugs now.
The garage was Boppie’s domain. In the garage was a beer fridge. It was filled with Papst Blue Ribbon, AKA “Boppie Beer” and usually some Faygo Rock N’ Rye, Red Pop, or Root Beer for us. On the outside was an acronym that I tried for years and years to figure out what it meant. Here’s the acronym: KYHOOTIBWP. Seriously what the heck does that even mean? I asked him and asked him over the years to tell me what it meant. He’d just laugh and say, “Figure it out Jill-o.” I begged him one summer’s day to tell me what it meant. I think I was about 12 or 13 and he finally told me, “Keep Your Hooks Out Of This Ice Box Without Permission.” I felt cool. Like I was in the know. Still makes me smile.
When I was 8 or 9, my dad, one of his brothers, a friend of the family, and Boppie went out to their carefully selected and prepared blinds to hunt. They had been feeding deer in the nearby woods in preparation for hunting season, muzzle loading season specifically. NaNa, Brian (son of friend of the family), and I were sitting there eating cookies, when all of a sudden NaNa says, “SON OF A BITCH! There’s that damn deer that’s been eating my garden all summer.” She grabs her rifle off the wall. Loads it. Opens the little kitchen window and pulls the trigger. She looks at us and says come on. She hands me the camera and smiles. She and Brian dragged it to the garage where they hung it up, and she dressed it. I took a couple pictures and we went inside and washed up. We were just sitting there waiting for everyone to come back. Finally they did. NaNa asked if anyone got anything. They all shook their heads and sadly plopped down on the couch. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I squealed, “NaNa did. It’s hanging in the garage.” Four stunned faces stared at me, as I jumped up and down in excitement telling them the story.
As I think on it now, I laugh because she didn’t have to say a word or gloat or anything. She let the little blonde with the pigtails do it all for her. My reward was that she cooked the liver up with onions, just for me. That may not seem like a reward to you, but that’s because you never had NaNa’s liver and onions. Nearly every time I visited them as an adult she would make me liver and onions and we’d talk. I miss that.
When I would get to stay the night at NaNa and Boppie’s, I slept in the bunk room. It was a small room with built in bunk beds. There were books, games, and toys in there for the kids when they visited. And Tyg. Tyg was a stuffed tiger pillow that belonged to all of us grand kids. He was much loved. Anyway…in the morning when we got up for breakfast you could have any cereal you wanted…usually the choices were some flaky cereal like Wheaties, Rice Krispies, and a few flavors of Chex. The cool thing about this though, was you got to put the powdered chocolate Nesquick on whichever cereal you chose. I’m pretty sure Bops should have gotten credit for all Cocoa Krispies and any other cereal flavored with chocolate.
The big deal at The Cabin was when you were 12 you were allowed to drive the golf cart around with all the smaller kids in it. I only drove it once. My dad was instructing me. We were in the field next to The Cabin when he was teaching me reverse. Now the field is large and mostly wide open, except for one telephone pole in the center of it. I backed into the one hazard in the whole field. I didn’t do any damage to the cart, but I was the one kid who only drove it once. I think my dad is as to blame as I was….but it is what it is.
I remember sitting there eating my very chocolaty cereal and watching the birds out the picture window. NaNa had a big book about the birds of North America, and I loved calling out the names of the ones I knew and looking up the pictures of the ones I didn’t. Black-Capped Chickadees are still my favorites. I remember standing at the flagpole in the middle of the yard and teaching my siblings the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember the Easter Tree filled with all those little plastic eggs, and a blow up Easter Bunny. I remember sneaking apple slices out of the tub filled with salt water (the apples were being prepped for applesauce). I remember the artesian well that never stopped running with the freshest, coldest water you can possibly imagine. You don’t forget washing up in water that cold. Ever.
I have so many memories…but these are a few of the ones that came to mind today. I hope they make you smile or even chuckle.
Point to ponder while you wander…It’s not necessarily the expensive gifts or trips that stick long in the memory of the kids in your life. It’s the seemingly little things. An inside joke. A small tradition. Those are the memories that count because they are the ones that last.
PS: Today is NaNa’s Birthday and Monday is Boppie’s Birthday. Happy Birthday, in Heaven, NaNa and Boppie!