A Boatload of Memories

One Saturday afternoon a few summers ago I was taking a walk and came upon an old boat. It looked as though it had been there for a while; weeds grown up around it, paint badly faded, motor gone, body spider-webbed with cracks, and leaning precariously to one side.

I walked on, and when the road narrowed to a path and ended, I turned around and headed back the way I’d come, having no desire to blaze my own trail through the dense vegetation. Poison ivy and I do not get along at all, and I have yet to master the recognizing of all its varieties. My operating procedure when I’m in the vicinity of wild vegetation is to not touch anything green.

As I approached the boat on the return trip, I suddenly saw it differently than when I’d first walked by. I realized there were surely stories and memories in the minds of others about the old boat. Dads had probably gone fishing with their buddies in it who now had stories to tell about the big ones that got away. Children—now grown with children of their own, and maybe even a boat of their own—had rode in the boat and perhaps been pulled behind it on water skis.

It was only natural that Uncle Marvin came grinning into my thoughts; I can still see his big smile. The old boat brought him to mind simply because that’s what I remember most when I think of him. Some of my best memories from when I was a boy of five, and until I was in my early teens, are of the times Uncle Marvin took us to one lake or another. It seems like we went a lot, but it probably wasn’t that much now that I think about it. In any case, those summers were the best summers ever, and I think about them often.

I can remember riding in the car with my cousin, Ed; huddled shoulder-to-shoulder on one side of the back seat, staring intently at the landscape whirring past. I can almost feel that delicious excitement as we drew near, and around every bend in the road, the breathless anticipation the lake would soon come into view. And then, the sound of two deliriously happy little boys (that would be me and Cousin Ed) shouting, “There it is!”

Yes, that old boat leaning to one side there in the weeds might seem like just an old boat to some who pass by it, but to me it holds a boatload of memories.


Posting this on Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday, where she’s asked us to share a story about that one amazing summer. Sorry, but I just caan’t pin it down to one; back then, they were all glorious!


  1. tashtoo said

    Wonderful, Charles…I’m hoping to find some time to play today too…but I’d be just as happy reading thru your boat load of memories. A wonderful share!

    • Just cruise through my blog, Tash! There’s a huge boat load of memories on it!
      Thanks for the wonderful comment!

  2. “Goose-bumps,” I love that this old boat does this for you and in turn we’re drawn into your precious memories. Such a gift, thank you.

  3. Sherry Mashburn said

    Beautiful!! I remember driving with my family to the beach, and my brother and I each wanting to be the first to catch a glimpse of the ocean so that we could shout it out.

    • Wonderful memories. Didn’t you tell me that Don used to sit on your head, so he’d always be the first one to see it??

      • Don King said

        I not only sat on her head, I blindfolded her as well. I was the prototypical bullying, tormenting big brother and damn proud of it! And our parents always blamed Sherry for our disputes, while I sat there angelically.

      • I knew it! Although, I would never have thought of tormenting my little sister & brothers!
        Thanks for the visit and comment, Don!

  4. This is compelling imagery Charles. I can see that boat listing to one side and I know precisely the emotions that come along with an unexpected memory trigger. Wonderful concision here as well.

    • Doggone it! I hate it when I have to look up a word before I can reply! I was pretty sure what “concision” meant, but had to make sure. That said, and done, Thanks! And, funny you should say that; I’ve been teaching myself to be more concise, having realized that the attention span of most blog readers (including mine) is very short. I actually cut this story down from almost 900 words to 466 words just this morning; I had posted it previously under a different title. So, the comment is very meaningful, and much appreciated!

      • It is a great exercise. My post tomorrow may be 2500 words and I know that is too much but I feel like I have a number of readers hooked and I am not sure I want to drag it out to 6 parts versus 5. However, after our little chat here I may do just that. I am excited by your blog and I love the marbles. I hope we will continue our dialog on future posts.

      • Definitely be talkin to ya again soon!

      • I am excited and say hello to Aggieland for me!

      • ah’ight den

      • man, if you are not from Texas you would never get that reference

      • Not from Texas?? Dude! I AM Texas! And if you’re referring to the Aggieland reference; that’s where I live. If you’re referring to the “ah’ight den”, that’s my signature response, and it’s a quote from Slingblade.

      • yes, I knew all of this. I was making a reference to other people who might read our interaction “we ain’t got no band Randy!” “you know better than to talk to me like that when I’m hurtin LInda” “I reckon I feel awright” “you’re a weird little shit Franky and I don’t git ya” “losing his sooooooul…” I can literally quote the whole film.
        I know it was set in Arkansas and really aren’t they just an annex of Texas?
        Sorry about the confusion, I was actually praising you and not intending to insult you”

      • Aw, heck no, podnah! I wasn’t insulted! That was all tongue in cheek; you’ll get used to that if ya hang around me.
        Slingblade is one of my all-time favorite movies–one of two that I’ve watched multiple times and will watch again and again. The other is “Tombstone”. Val Kilmer is the MAN in that one! “I’m yer Huckleberry.” ~ another of my signature lines.
        It’s all good, bro!

  5. Charles, I just love reading you! You always lead me through this amazing visual journey, like holding my hand and leading me through each moment…and then there is the sweet humor you mix in. Always such an enjoyable read when I come to visit! I appreciate your loyalty so much to my FWF! I look forward to it!!! Thank you! xox

  6. Wonderful, Charles. That’s our goal for our kids with our brief summer ventures…memories, and pieces of themselves, forever. Thanks for sharing this wonderful boat ride.

  7. lensscribbles said

    How wonderful to have such special memories and to share them as only you can do ..thank you for bringing forth memories of my own childhood and going fishing in an old boat!

  8. Really wonderful, Charles! I too was inspired by an old boat on it’s side, I will be posting about it on December 5th, I’ll try to remember to send you a copy when I post it.

    • Thank you, Sherrie!
      December 5th?? Why so far out?
      No need to remember to send it to me; I’m subscribed to your blog and get an email every time you post something.

  9. Laurie Kolp said

    Such a lovely memory, Charles. You were lucky to have such a hands-on uncle like that.


    • Funny you should say that, Laurie. Uncle Marvin was a strict and stearn disciplinarian, and many remember him as gruff and even mean. But I look back and see how much he did for his children, and realize he was a man who had his priorities in line. And of course when I look back, I see that big ol’ Uncle Marvin grin.
      Thanks for the visit and nice comment.

  10. Wow, so touching a story.. A perfect representative of old memories- the old boat. Enjoyed soulfully reading your story after a long many days..:)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and so glad you stopped by for a visit. Thank you for the nice comment!

  11. David King said

    Boats and the sea never fail to conjure up memories and/ or imaginative vistas for me, so I was with you expectantly throughout. Excellent piece.

    • Thanks, David! I love the water. I’m more of a fresh water guy, and have lots of memories about lakes and rivers.
      I appreciate your visit and comment!

  12. Mikael said

    Wonderful memories… It’s amazing how one thing can remind you of so much. Love it, Charles!

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