Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on gessobord
Original page from Michne Camping Log, 1971
My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”
It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.
Cherry Kool-Aid, 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord
Making Kool-Aid was hit-or-miss. First, you had to have packet. Chances are, we didn’t have enough sugar to fill the measuring cup. Next, to find the pitcher- (dump out whatever old drink was brewing in that!) After accidentally snorting the unsweetened powder when you opened it, get your spoon, add sugar, stir, then pray that you would have ice in the ice-cube maker! If all was right with the world, you would have the perfect sugary cup of cherry Kool-Aid. All in a summer’s days work!
Remember Saratoga Vichy Water? Well, they also made Saratoga Ginger Ale! Of course, everyone had the Vichy water. My mother had it for every “adult” party. Each time there was a spill, it was “Grab the Vichy water!!” Not gonna lie, we usually had Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I resurrected this bottle from the Round Lake Antique Fest and thought I’d put the little sister of Vichy in the spotlight. What is Vichy water, anyway?
Frozen Pink Lemonade
After ripping the plastic strip off the can, removing the aluminum disk from the end, I would hold that can for a few seconds then wait for the “scccuuuupppppp” sound as the plop of pink creamy ice fell into the pitcher. I remember being in such a hurry to make it that filling 3 whole cans of water seemed like an eternity. The sticky, gooey mess would be left on the counter, along with whatever utensil could find to make it. Then, after selecting a glass as impressive as this pink drink, I would find the perfect spot to enjoy it. The ritual involved with pink lemonade hasn’t changed much and while buying a carton may seem easier, there is something about the canned frozen pink lemonade that remains my prefered method of classic, summer-must enjoyment.
Coke and a Smile. 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord
Detail: Coke and a Smile.
I feel for this generation that didn’t get to experience the Real Thing. The commercial- apple trees, honey bees and snow white turtle doves. Everyone knows things go better with Coke. Especially the mountains! Taking a freezing cold Coke out of a galvanized bucket of ice- there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer’s day. It adds life! It’s a natural! This video clip says it all! Classic Coke Commercial- Thank you Don Draper!
Come On 50, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
In case of rain, there’s always the Arcade. And in case you hate Arcades, at least there’s Skee-Ball! I’ve never been a bowler, but get fiercely competitive in a game of Skee-ball. For .25 cents, you would get about 9 wooden balls to roll/throw to hopefully landing them in the 50 point hole. Like bowling, the sound of the wooden balls harkens back to a time when life was simple…and .25 cents brought at least 90 points of fun. Lake George still has Skee-ball, except its .50 now. It’s the perfect summer game, rain or shine!
Indian Beads, 6″ x 6″ Oil Painting on gesso board
Going shopping in Lake George Village was a thrill unto itself. Spin-Art, Frankenstein, candied everything, and of course, the tackiest souvenirs in the Northeast corridor. But, there was one thing that I was drawn to, and still am: Indian Beads. We would get a kit of beads and sit in the camper and make jewelry. Any kind of craft kit would suffice. Lanyard, woven loop placemats, plastic beads, macrame…you name it. What I would give to have one of the bracelets I made back in the summer, as it was….
Last Piece…For Now, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
Fudge, in the summer, says “we went somewhere special”. Cape Cod, Maine, Vermont, the Adirondacks, the Connecticut shore…where ever you vacation, I guarantee there is a shop selling homemade fudge-like what we make at home in December! I remember on Canada Street in Lake George, there used to be a shop on the corner that made their own fudge. The “maker” would spread it out on a giant slap of marble and work it back and forth. Taffy would be being pulled on some contraption, and the smell of sugary corn would be wafting in the air. But eating fudge in the summer is like the reward for making it to your destination. You savor each bite, knowing soon, it will be the last piece. But before we know it, December will be here and guaranteed fudge will show up in someone’s Christmas Cookie gift plate.
Life Preserver, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
There was no avoiding it. At some point during the summer, you would be tied into an orange life preserver. If you were lucky, it had dried from the previous wearing. You would put your arms out wide while your parent would strap you in and make it as tight as they could. Then, with your chin to the sky, they would tie it around your neck. It may have saved you from drowning, but I always felt suffocated! And the smell! They always had an aroma of sweat, Coppertone and mildew. But I’d give anything to smell that again!
PS. I was on a quest to find a life jacket for this painting. I did find one on eBay in it’s original wrapper, from Sunny’s Surplus from 1960 for $2.99. Hanging with honor in my camp!
Lake George’s Minne-Ha-Ha, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
Lake George is so much more than America’s Queen of Lakes. It provides more memories and evokes such nostalgic feelings for it’s millions of adorers. A boat ride on the Minne-Ha-Ha is an absolute must once in your lifetime. Of course, seeing the majestic lake is an awe inspiring sight. However, your other senses will become alive on this trip! The boat toot-toots melodies from another era. The hot (boiling!) steam sprinkles on your shoulders should you sit near it’s steam pipes, the paddles churn water, and the bellow of it’s deep whistle upon launching will awake your inner child. Yes, yes, this is the ultimate tourist trap, but once in a while, you just have to give in and enjoy the ride.