Friday, April 24, 2009

Summertime In Branson - A flash back to the 80's

Im sharing this story - mostly for my they know a little bit about me and when I was a teen ager. But this story is also about "Living the creative life" and a story of a very creative person I met when I was about 13 years old......

I loved this time of year - it was the 80's and I was in my mid-teens. We had moved to Branson, Missouri from Springfield, Illinois the summer of 1979. I was so mad at my Dad for that move. I thought he was moving me away from all my friends....but little did I know, just how many more friends I would make an how fun my teenage years were about to become!

I was talking to a friend of mine who I worked with in Branson last summer. She's working at a place called Stormy Point - a little cove just past the Table Rock Dam. What you see today is very different than what you would have seen back in the 80's.

Being a teen growing up in a tourist town and the lake, we always had a boat. Everyone had a boat and everyone would get together on Sunday afternoons - with our boats and with our families at "UU" or "Long Creek" - literally there would be at least a hundred people at our get-togethers. We would swim, eat, play, run around...and just have great family/friend time.

One family friend was the Larson family. They lived on an acreage on Stormy Point. John the dad, was probably one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He had been all over the world and he had a collection of stuff from all over the world.....and he had a house. It was a very unique house, as unique of a house as he was a person. You see, John could build anything...and I mean anything....but he would build it "just so it worked". He used lots of duct tape and vice grips - you know those things fix everything right? And so, he built his house. The entry way of the house was really his workshop full of tools. Then a few stairs and you found yourself in the middle of a room with an extremely high ceiling. There were really no walls at all in this house (except for the bathroom) and each room was built on it's own level. So picture a treehouse but from the inside. There was a level for the general landing area when you walked in the door. Up a few steps and there was a living area with a couch. To the left of that on it's own level was the kitchen and to the right of the couch area but down on it's own level was the dining area. (I think - remember...Im going back to the 80's...but this is how I remember it).

The Larson's were a very entertaining family. They often had get-togethers....and at such get togethers there were... you guessed it.....KIDS! Loads of kids......and a trapeze! You see... John had hung a literal trapeze from the enormously tall ceiling and us kids would get on the back of the couch, grab hold of the trapeze and literally "FLY" thru the center of the living room and swing like Peter Pan (I'm totally serious...You CAN NOT make up this stuff!). Talk about a kids paradise! And this event would be repeated all night long...each of us kids taking our turn flying thru the living room of their house.

I guess John was always a kid at heart! But, the story doesn't end there. About this time every year, John would put on his scuba gear for the "ressurection". That is, the resurrecting of the now infamous "Banana Boat", which sank every winter. It was an annual springtime event.

Now remember, practically all of our friends had boats. We had a bass boat, others had ski boats etc....but if you didn't have a boat, you would most likely be a guest on the Banana Boat. John had designed this boat from two huge army pontoons that he welded together to create a pontoon boat. And then he painted them the brightest color of banana yellow you could ever imagine. The decking was plywood, the railings were welded "L" bracets and in the center, there was a huge block chevy motor....which by the way, drug the lake and never ever worked. Instead it was powered by a 15hp motor on the back and a huge black and orange sail with a big pirate skull on it. Now just imagine this boat coming down the lake! You could see it for miles and it reached a whopping speed of maybe 5 miles an hour! (on a windy day).

While this boat was no luxury liner, it was one of the most fun boats that I've ever been on. John would take all of us kids out in the middle of the lake. We'd climb up to the top and jump off into the water. Eventually, I think it had a slide on the back. Sometimes they would have 20 or 30 people on this boat! A truely generous family - giving of everything they had. And in relating that story to my friend earlier today, I can't help but smile.

She told me - you should blog that! And so I did....because it makes me smile...I had a great teenage years thanks to my friends in the Branson Congregation and to my parents who made sure that my teenage years were ones to remember!

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