Where have you been all summer, my friend?
And so I ended my summer sojourn by a lake I had never seen, one that linked a long ago past with a very intimate present. Almost a century ago, eighty-five years, my mother joined her family on a lake in north east Pennsylvania. My grandmother, Augusta Jockers (Gussie) had somehow forged one of those lifetime bonds with a kindred spirit, Ruby Harris. Ruby came to visit her niece in Flushing, New York where my sister and I were born. My grandmother either stopped by or was invited to do so by Ruby's niece Virginia (who married Buster Crabbe of Flash Gordon fame) and they hit it off so well they earned an invitation to spend some time with Ruby's family, husband and two daughters Mary and Doris on Lake Sheridan. I even had a grainy photo of my mom age five, and her two older sisters Muriel age 15, and Virginia age 17 standing in a canoe on the lake. My grandfather, and my namesake Frank Louis (jockers) painted the ceiling of the cottage sky blue. Ruby started the day with her wooden mallet smashing bats that clung to the shutters. Must have thought they were flying rats rather than the hungry mosquito eaters we know them to be today.
My aunt Muriel (Meam) encouraged me to pay Mary a visit on my first trip out west to LA. in the 1970's. Mary was then in her 70's and lived in a magnificent home perched high above the Pacific Ocean on Palos Verdes peninsula. That's where I met her daughter Joan, and her daughter Darien, age ten back in 1975. I also got to meet Mary's sister Doris. Doris was married to Charles Hamilton, the world reknowned document authenticator and autograph dealer. Mary was married to Monty. Montgomery. Great people, with great stories about my grandmother and grandfather.
I stayed in touch with Mary and Doris visiting when I was in LA. Then one by one they left us, first Mary, then Muriel, than Doris. My mom is still going at 90. Darien is now almost 50, with a daughter of her own, one she named Ruby after her great grandmother, my grandmother's friend. Ruby and Gussie, what a pair.
Then this summer after many wishes and promises, Darien and I were resolved to meet at the lake house. The date was set, and I drove to the cottage my family had visited so many decades ago. It was just as I imagined it to be. And alive with children; children of children of children, three and four generations of kids whose parents and grandparents and great grandparents had sat along these very shores watching the waters undulate reflecting the sunshine into the green leaves of trees on the water's edge. And it brought me back to my own summer cottage in New England, Stardust, undoubtably designed with Minnetonka in mind. The cottage where I grew up, Stardust right on Highland Lake where I forged my love for the cool waters of a lake, and the memories and legacies that they nurtured.