Saturday, February 27, 2010

Water Skiing

I learned how to water ski at Shorecrest.  I was probably 13 or 14 and I know whoever taught me was a guest at Shorecrest but I don't remember who.  I vaguely remember dropping one ski to learn how to slalom and how difficult it was to learn to come out of the water on one ski but once I got it, it was a breeze from then on.

At some point, there was a group of guests from Iowa who began coming to Shorecrest and they rented two or three of the cottages.  These folks were skiing nuts.  They taught me how to do three and five person pyramids, ski on a disk and spin around, ski on "shoe skis", and not only ski backwards but come out of the water backwards.


In the picture above, I'm skiing on skis that had the bindings reversed so that the tips were behind me.  I would put these skis on with my back to the boat and my arms holding the tow rope behind my back.  When I was ready, I would dunk my head in the water and this was the signal for the boat captain to take off.  I would have to make sure that my body was below the point where the skis came out of the water and somehow keep my balance as the skis planed.  I will have to say that it wasn't much fun but it was a novelty.  I remember one time I was skiing backward and trying to look forward, lost my concentration and flipped when the sides of the skis caught the water sideways.

I never did learn how to barefoot but I did learn to ski on shoe skis.  Shoe skis were about a foot long and in order to come out of the water, I would put a slalom ski between my legs to get my butt out of the water and then stand up on the shoe skis.  When you ski on skis that are only a foot long and are just a flat board with no tips, you have to remember to keep your toes up.  One time I relaxed my toes and the tips of the shoe skis dug into the water.  I fell so hard and fast that I didn't have time to close my eyes when I came in contact with the water.  I came out of the water with my eyes wide open and couldn't see a thing.  I thought I was blind and within a few seconds, my vision came back.  That was the last time I skied with shoe skis.

These folks from Iowa would stay for two weeks each summer.  We would practice all of our skiing routines and then give the rest of the guests at Shorecrest a ski show.  One of these guests was 70 years old.  His contribution to the show was to start out on a three foot round plywood disk carrying a stool in one hand.  Once out of the water, he would place the stool in the middle of the disk, sit on the stool and spin while holding the ski rope.

The third summer these folks came down, the owner of the ski boat had bought a new 100 horse power outboard Mercury motor.  I think it was the largest outboard you could buy at the time.  He was able to get ten of us up on two skis each at one time.  Quite the feat.

My summers were filled with water skiing.  Most of the time, I skied every day.  There were always guests who loved to ski and it was my duty to oblige them.

That was when I fell in love with the water.  Nowadays, I sail on a big lake in Kansas.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Outhouse Tipping

My Dad used to tell me about tipping outhouses over when he was a kid.  His story is much more interesting than mine.

When my Dad was young in Terril, Iowa, he and his friends used to tip over outhouses on Halloween.  Maybe other times too.  There was one guy in town whose outhouse they would tip over every Halloween.  The "owner" of this particular outhouse thought he would catch them in the act so he hid inside the outhouse, waiting.  My Dad and his friends discovered he was hiding and waiting for them so they stealthily approached the outhouse, positioned themselves on the back side and tipped the outhouse with the owner inside, over on its door.  As they ran away, they could hear him yelling for someone to get him out.  What fun is that?

When I was in high school, some of my friends and I were wondering what to do on a Halloween and remembering my father's exploits with outhouses, I suggested we find one and tip one over.  How hard could that be--this was the Ozarks after all.  I don't remember how long it took us to find one but we did come upon an old, abandoned outhouse off the road a piece in the woods.  We jumped out of the car, positioned ourselves on one side and tipped it over.  We ran back to the car and sped off so as not to get caught.  We decided it was so much fun though that we went back, jumped out of the car, ran to the overturned outhouse, tipped it back up and then tipped it over again.  Yup, that was fun.  Haven't got to do it again since but if I ever find another outhouse, it's going over.  If that happens, I'll post a picture.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

1953 Ford

One of my best friends in high school, Bruce Garrison, and I decided to buy an old car together.  Some old guy in Camdenton had an old '53 Ford coupe with a flathead V8 in it and "three on the tree" manual transmission.  As I remember, we both ponied up $25 apiece to purchase this car that had not been tagged in years.  We had to drive it through town and were worried about getting stopped by Camdenton's finest.  The flathead only ran on a few cylinders so we took it to Shorecrest to work on it.  My Dad, Carl was thoroughly disappointed in my decision to participate in this costly venture.

Since we had already spent a great deal of money on this car, we decided to tune it up by putting in a variety of discarded boat motor spark plugs in each of the spark plug holes in an attempt to improve the performance.  We may have picked up another cylinder or two but I don't think it ever ran on more than six or seven cylinders at a time.

Bruce and I decided to share the old Ford by exchanging it every week or two.  I had it the first session and then Bruce took it home for a while.  It was actually quite a while and the next time I saw the car, it was after Bruce had taken a torch to the body and cut off the roof to make it a convertible.  He had also ran it headfirst into a tree so the body style had been altered yet again.  When Bruce ran it into the tree, the radiator had gotten pushed back into the fan so my contribution to its repair was a can of "Bars Leak" to patch up the holes and that worked for as long as we had the car.

It was my turn again and I brought it back to Shorecrest.  Up above the resort, there was a little "flat" in the road where it turned to the right and to the left was our resort's dump.  That's right.  All the trash generated at Shorecrest was dumped in a small ravine up the hill and over a ridge.  That was my daily job at the resort but that is a story for another post.

One day, I was tearing up the hill in the old Ford just past the turn off to the dump and all of a sudden, the Ford screeched to a halt.  The shifter on the steering column flipped up and was where neutral should have been.  There I sat in the middle of the road, clutch in, transmission locked, and six or seven cylinders exploding.  I was half way up this steep hill, wildly throwing the shift lever in all directions while dumping the clutch and flooring the gas peddle.  The Ford would just sit there shaking and whipping up dust while the engine revved with the transmission in no particular gear but locked up tighter than a drum.  I remember sitting there wondering what to do and how Dad would react to a beat up old junker blocking the road to the resort.  I did the only thing I knew to do and continued throwing the shifter while flooring the gas and dumping the clutch.  Finally, the car rocketed backward in reverse.  Fortunately, there were no cars coming up the hill so in a split second, I had to make a decision.  Decision made, I continued to back up and instead of reversing all the way down the hill to Shorecrest, I shot up the small side trail to the dump.  Fortunately, I got it parked out of the way and out of site of the patrons who would be coming down the hill to spend their vacation at the resort.

That old car sat there until sometime after my folks sold the resort and moved to Texas.  When I went back to Shorecrest 30 years later, the car was gone, the dump cleaned up and the trail to the dump had been paved.  In fact, I think there was a house sitting where the old Ford had been laid to rest many years before.

All in all, us buying that old car was my first venture into investments.  Not bad for a first try.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winter at Shorecrest

As I sit here on a bleak winter day on the Kansas prairie, it reminds me of similar days in early high school when I'd go exploring in the hills above Shorecrest.  There wasn't often snow and there was a carpet of leaves blanketing the forest floor.  There was a high hill back of the resort with an old jeep road around it.  That hill and road is now covered with houses in at least three terraces up from the bend in the lake and the old jeep road is now wide and paved.

Back in 1969, there wasn't but one house on this hill which formed a point on a bend in the lake.  That house was right next to the resort.  The rest was completely isolated and forested.  I spent hours traipsing over much of the forest and once found an old sink hole.  I was convinced beneath that sink hole was a cave and spent hours digging trying to reach it.  There probably was a cave there too although I never got to it.

Just up the river/lake and around a bend, there was a cave at the water's edge.  The only way to get to it was by boat.  I went there several times and explored.  It looked like someone may have tried to commercialize it at one point because there were old wood walkways to keep you from walking through the stream that ran through the cave.  Back in a ways was a relatively large room where bats hung from the ceiling and on the floor beneath them, a six foot high pile of bat guano.  One time, my older brother by 12 years and I went exploring deeper into the cave than I ever had been.  It got real small and we ended up having to crawl with the stream of water running past our knees.  At one point, the cave divided into two tunnels and my brother had me wait while he explored one arm.  I sat for a while with my light turned off to conserve the batteries and have never experienced total darkness like that before or since.  Every few seconds or so, I would holler my brother's name and he would answer although his answers became quieter and quieter.  At one point, he didn't answer back and I got scared he may have become trapped.  I crawled for a ways and the tunnel got so small that I had to belly crawl through the water with the roof of the cave tunnel scraping my back (I could never fit through there today).   The tunnel took a sharp bend to the left and as I was pulling myself along, I got stuck in this bend.  It took about a second for me to wonder if that was where I would die.  I wiggled frantically and got through and later found my brother where it had opened up a little enough for us to turn around.  We did get out and that was the last time I went spelunking in a cave where I couldn't stand up.

Inspired by "Lovin' and Livin' Life in the Ozarks"

I was looking for information on Shorecrest Resort and discovered a blog by "Rottlady" who had spent the first three years of her life at Shorecrest Resort in the 50s.  You can see her blog on the subject here: you might have to scroll to the top to see some of the pictures.  Thanks Elizabeth.