Most of us think of surfing as a sport that began with the 60s Hippie Generation…or at least, I did, but surfing is actually one of the oldest practiced sports in the world. Thought of as, the art of wave riding, it is a blend of total athleticism and the comprehension of the beauty and power of nature. Surfing is also one of the few sports that creates its own culture and lifestyle. From surfing came the beach bum, and the draw of the coastal areas. Surfing began with a wooden board in Western Polynesia over three thousand years ago. The first surfers were actually fishermen who discovered riding waves as an efficient method of getting to shore with their catch. After realizing that surfing was fun, catching waves changed from being part of everyday work to being a pastime, and the sport of surfing was born. I have never considered surfing myself, but I think it is interesting to watch.
While I’m not a faithful fan of surfing, I do find it interesting to note the different boards surfers have used over the years. The first boards were little more than a wooden plank, and I have to wonder how the surfer ever got to shore. It would seem to me that without the smooth rounded or pointed front edge, the board would simple dig up the water, dumping the surfer in. And maybe that was the problem. It didn’t take long before the loyal surfer was smoothing the edges of his board to make it more streamlined in the water.
Recently, I came across a picture of some young surfers in the 1920s, and while their suits were odd for our day and age, the thing that shocked me the most was their boards. They were literally a wooden plank, squared off at the end, with braces in a couple of placed in the middle. I began to wonder how they could even make them work. The I started looking at other surf boards through the years. They went from the tiny Boogie Board, used for body surfing, to a surf board that looked like a small boat. I wondered how the surfer even carried that board…or transported it. Those big boat sized boards were often more than twice the size of some of the women standing in front of them. I think it is quite interesting that people have been able to use such a wide variety of boards, and actually manage to navigate the waves without falling in every time, but then I guess practice makes perfect.
In 1910 – 1911, my Grandpa Spencer and my grandma’s brother, my Uncle Albert Schumacher, spent the winter months trapping and working in the logging camps in northern Minnesota. This was before my grandparents were married. The men took several pictures before embarking on the journey from the Schumacher farm in Elliot, North Dakota in September 1910 for their “winter in the woods”. My grandpa took his 1895 Winchester 30-03, the gun that was his pride and joy, and Uncle Albert had a 1899 Savage and they headed off on their adventure. It would be a winter to remember. It was freezing cold, often getting down to 30° below zero.
They built what they called a flat boat to carry their supplies, two rifles, two handguns, plenty of ammunition, and plenty of dried and canned food. The boat could also be loaded onto a wagon when they needed to travel across country, although, I’m not sure where they got the wagon after traveling by water. Still since I have seen the picture with the boat on the wagon, I know that they got that part covered as well. In the end, the cold winter sort of won out. They trapped during October and November and then worked in the logging camps until spring.
While the cold winter, and the freezing conditions did change their plans for the winter, you could still say that they had a successful winter of trapping anyway. Now, I don’t know how I would feel about trapping skunk, because at some point you have to go and deal with that carcass, and to me that would be horrible. We have all driven by a spot where a skunk was killed, and…whew, what a smell!! Nevertheless, my grandpa and my uncle took that in stride and came away with a good amount of skunk and muskrat pelts for their efforts. My Uncle Bill, who I must credit for the information in this story, figured that in all, they probably made about $100.00 for that cold winter’s trapping venture, plus the money earned while working in the logging camps. It may not sound like much money for all that work and the freezing conditions, but in 1910 and 1911, it was a pretty decent wage.
The other day, I wrote a story about my cousin, Elmer…Uncle Bud to his niece, JeanAnn and now, her children Mykenzie…Kenzie, as her mom calls her, and Ethan. That story has sparked another story…one that I think you will find very funny. I know I did when Elmer and JeanAnn told it to me.
Elmer enjoys taking JeanAnn and the kids out to the lake, where they go boating and swimming. They all have a great time. Now, the kids are always picking on each other. Kenzie especially loves to pick on her little brother, and Ethan, being the younger one, didn’t often get the upper hand, but that could be changing. Ethan is all boy, and if you have ever been around boys, you will know that they are full of mischief…in fact, sometimes, I think they spend hours dreaming up ways to pick on or get even with their sisters.
Ethan loves going to the lake, but he would much rather be in the boat or on the land or dock, because for some reason, at this age, he is afraid of the water. The kids are always wearing life jackets if they are going to get in very far, or in the boat, of course, and still, Ethan doesn’t like to be in much past his knees.
On this particular day, Kenzie was swimming near the dock, and Ethan decided that he had found a great way to get even with his sister. So Ethan was running back and forth on the dock with a cup of water, that he was doing his best to dump on his sister. Of course, a boy running on a dock with a cup of water is bound to spill plenty of it, so the dock got wet from all that water, and when Ethan was running along the edge of the dock, the inevitable happened. Ethan slipped right off the dock.
Now that may seem like it wouldn’t be funny, but I think you will agree that it is. When Ethan fell off the dock, he landed directly on top of his sister. No one was in any danger, because they both had life jackets on, but that really didn’t matter, because they were both screaming and crying like they were in the middle of a hurricane. Elmer said it was so funny to see Ethan get his just desserts for all his teasing.
Now, it’s true that Ethan had been caught in his own trap, but there was someone else who got caught too…JeanAnn. You see, JeanAnn was right beside Kenzie, and when Ethan fell in the water…on top of Kenzie, he also fell on top of JeanAnn. So with both kids screaming and crying, JeanAnn had the lovely job of trying to walk them up and back on the dock, but that proved a little difficult, since Kenzie wouldn’t let go of the dock, and Ethan wouldn’t let go of Kenzie’s head. Obviously outnumbered, JeanAnn couldn’t pry them apart, and finally ended up throwing them both on the dock…at which point it was Mommy who was the last one dunked. Can’t you just picture it right now.