Friday, June 7, 2013

Grandparents + Summer = memories of love

My Grandparents account for just as many of my childhood memories as my parents, if not more. There are so many things I still want to ask them, but it's too late. Mostly, though, I would thank them for giving me so many treasured childhood memories. There is  much I would like to share with you about them but I'll stick to one topic at the moment....The Lake.

My Grandpa was a hard working man. Original, fun and old school. I like to think I get some of my good traits from him.

In the early 70's he moved my Grandma and himself down to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. He built  a marvelous house right on the lake.

The first thing you notice is the incredibly steep brown gravel driveway. Even further up the hill sat a top of the line above ground pool which served family and friends for several decades. You could either walk down the hill back to the house, or, you could slide down the metal slide my Grandpa had installed directly into the ground next to the pool!

From the wrap around deck on the house you had a view of the sparkling lake. There were concrete steps leading down to the lower area that met the basement. That outdoor space provided many bbq's where my Grandpa made the best brisket I've ever had! You could hang out with him at the bbq or you could step further into the backyard and play some horseshoes. Better yet, you could step right in to the basement that had a full bar (for grownups) or a keen air hockey table.

Back up top, walking through the front door brought you immediately to the 1970s kitchen where my Grandma prepared all the meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for hungry Grandkids. If you went to the left, you would walk into the open dining room and living room area which was quite large.

The dining room table was a long rectangular shape that could seat at least 10 and was always covered with a patterned, vinyl tablecloth and retro Tupperware salt and pepper shakers & sugar dish. In one corner there was a little nook that was home to their shiny percolator and all the coffee supplies. At the end of the table stood a magnificent hutch full of vintage china and over the years, collected anniversary items. (They were together just shy of 50 years).

The living room had bright red carpet! The divan, as my Grandma called it, was very long and lasted all the years I can remember. That is a long time compared to the quality of today's furniture. There were always little throw pillows covered in crochet cases made by my Grandma. The coffee table was full of candy dishes with hard candies that we were allowed to eat any time we wanted! I do not think there was ever a time that there was not a jar of peanuts on the table as well.
Next to my Grandpa's recliner sat his end table, complete with T.V Guide and always a little bottle of iodine to heal raw little toes of grandchildren after long days in the swimming pool.
Against the far wall was the step up area with fireplace and door leading down to the basement where my Grandma did all the laundry.

From the kitchen into the hallway there were 3 bedrooms and a "back room" Sometimes we would sleep in the bunkbeds in one of the rooms or we would sleep in the back room that had, not an attic fan but a fan built directly into the wall. They seldom had to run the AC thanks to that fan. Just off the back room was the door to the garage where my Grandpa taught us how to clean fish (I do not remember now). There also was a refrigerator dedicated to beer and an array of generic soda's for us kids. Any kind you wanted, black cherry, creme soda, root beer and all the classics!

I grew up spending time and holidays with the family at the lake. But when I got to a certain age, something pretty great happened. The 4 of us Grandkids got to go spend two weeks of every summer down at the lake. The memories from these trips have lasted me a lifetime! I could write an actual book about all of them. Maybe I will someday. But today I'll just give you a little taste of how wonderful it was.

Our trips always began with our Grandparents picking us up. They drove four hours from the lake to Kansas City to get all us hooligans. Many years they picked us up in a Winnebago. I think you already know my passion for Winnebagos! I'm certain the reason I love them so much is purely sentimental. We had a ball riding down in the Winni. After a certain time though, my Grandpa switched to a more economical vehicle. A station wagon. The trip down was still fun.

We had the same routine every year. We'd stop at this old school fast food place and order cheeseburgers and fries. Once we got into Eldon we stopped at the grocery store and loaded up with snacks, soda's and food for the week. My Grandpa always made sure we had a nice juicy watermelon too. Some of the best I've ever had! The grocery store is still there. It's called Gerbes.

Once at the lake it was free reign. We usually spent the first few days just settling in, but then we got our groove.  My Grandpa was ALWAYS the first one up in the mornings. He would start his percolator coffee and let my Grandma sleep in. He was so happy to see us when we woke. He'd greet me with a hefty GOOD MORNING AMY LYNN!!! Then he'd ask me if I wanted doughnuts or some type of cereal, like Raisin Bran.  Sometimes we'd wait for Grandma to wake up and she'd make us bacon and eggs.

After breakfast  it was directly into the pool, and usually all day! If we were not at the pool my Grandpa would take us out on the lake in his Pontoon or bass boat where we would ski or fish. Sometimes we'd just walk to the dock to fish. We would take extra long walks up to the mailbox which was very far from the house.

Usually during the middle of the trip, he'd take us all to Bagnell Dam. We would walk up and down the strip enjoying the sites and playing fun things like skeeball or bumper cars. I loved the tshirt shops in the 80's, they were so fun and neon prints. Then he'd always make sure we got to see at least one show. I'll never forget the Presley family show. Got my picture taken with "Elvis".

By the end of our two weeks together, I didn't want it to end. I wish I could tell you every detail but there are just too many years of details to tell. Years and years of loving memories.

I miss them so very much. Those days are long gone but not forgotten. Everything changed when my Grandma passed away in the mid 90's. Then sadly my Grandpa passed away just a few years ago right before Christmas. I took it really hard. It was the end of an era indeed.

But as my Grandpa always said "Death is a part of life".

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