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Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:03 pm

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"Damp, musty and well-worn." It certainly wouldn't catch your attention in a travel brochure.

"No indoor plumbing. Hand pump for water located in back of the building."

No, that wouldn't make me want to stay there either.

"Out house conveniently located in front of or directly behind your rental."

What? No way!

So why do I long to return to those places of my youth?

The old worn out couches were like giant pillows barely framed in faded mahogany, oak or pine. The kitchen table was held up by scratched and dented steel legs. The top surface was etched a hundred times by those before us. The red and white vinyl covered chairs would stick to my legs on a hot summer day.

Still, one more meal there would be a blessing.

There were no televisions. There were no radios unless you brought one of your own. That meant you needed to entertain yourself for the week you were there.

"Under the "N" the free spot!" my uncle Al would call out each evening. Yes, we played Bingo. It had such an impact on me that I still own an old Bingo game set to this very day.

The few beds that were available in any of these classic vacation spots held lumpy, torn, mattresses with a few questionable stains. But they were covered with our own bed linens freshly washed and folded by my mother.

Of course, I never had the pleasure of actually sleeping on one of those dinosaurs. My grandparents and other older adults held that great privilege.

The rest of us slept on couches, chairs and yes the floor.

It was routine to discover my Grandmother standing over me in the middle of the night. Her thoughts and mental health often caused her to get up several times during the night. She carried a flashlight as she wandered through the cottage. Early on in my childhood I would awaken frightened and shaking under the covers each time I saw this "ghost" wandering around. As years went by, I would wake up and say "Hello, Grandma! I love you!" I think it gave her pleasure and somewhat of a reality check to know she was somewhere she belonged.

Our days were spent at Sandy Beach and some of the most satisfying, delicious meals shared on old weather-worn picnic tables nestled under the pines.

I floated for hours on end in the lake. I had no fancy blown up vinyl rafts, just a simple inner tube from an old tire. My Dad was a mechanic.

A few times a week we would head to Hanson's Park, which was located right on the lake. My first roller coaster ride was with my Uncle Al. I couldn't speak for hours afterwards. By today's ride standards that coaster would be a kiddie ride. But in the eyes of an 7 year old in 1957, it was the scariest ride on earth.

I really can't remember what I did all day long back at the rented cottage, but I managed to keep myself busy and very happy. I had no video games, no electronic toys. I had my imagination, which now as I think back, may have been the foundation for what I do today.

This was vacation. We traveled almost 12 miles to get there. That's right about 12 miles. I lived in Kingston we vacationed at Harvey's Lake. It was the best we could do. It was the most my family could afford.

I'm 55 now and I've traveled to some of the most remarkable places. I have stayed in some of the most luxurious hotels. I've eaten some of the best meals in the world.

But I'd give almost anything for one more night, one more picnic, one more roller coaster ride, one more trip to the outhouse..."just one more time!"

What is your opinion about this story?

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