Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Above is another shot of Bethel Beach and below is another guest contribution, because Chesapeake Bay Woman is plum wore out. Worn out. She's a plum. Not to be confused with aplomb.

Gwynn's Island
written by The Gwynn's Islander

Growing up on an island in the Chesapeake Bay was a wonderful experience.

The time period of the 60's/70's was very memorable.

There were no video games! You could play the pinball machine* at the service station,** or if someone had a car you might make it to the pool hall next to Donks, the local movie theater which was off the island. Woe be unto he, who was caught off the island without informing the parents. We were forced to manufacture our own fun.

We had quite the band of marauding teenagers on the island in those days. Some actually went on to lead happy and productive lives. I will omit the names to protect against litigation.

We played whatever sport that was in season at each other's houses. We would go swimming for hours on end.

Water surrounded us and protected us from much of the outside world.

I can't remember exactly who got the first mini bike, but from that point on, everyone had to have one and they quickly evolved into dirt bikes. Talk about paradise for the teenagers and pure hell for the parents. No Saturday morning was ever quiet again. Gwynn's Island was one big motocross, with trails and jumps and meeting places. We were coming of age, and it is rumored that some even experimented with alcohol and tobacco, among other things.

One of my friends who is no longer with us was called Putt Putt. I am not sure how he got the nickname, but it sure fit him. Putt was as good as gold, and would give you the shirt off his back. One night, several of the boys were getting together for mischief...err...fellowship, but Putt Putt's headlight on his dirt bike had burned out. Chock full of ingenuity, he taped seven*** flashlights to his handlebars.

Despite the flashlights, Putt was having trouble keeping up with his accomplices...err.. friends. In an area known as Spirit Branch, behind the cemetery, his friends stopped so Putt could catch up.

In one of the strangest accidents ever witnessed, (confirmed by all parties involved, I missed it for some reason,) Putt Putt's bike rammed full speed into the back of his friend's bike. Putt's front tire hit the rear tire of the other bike, driving his friend about twenty feet forward, while shooting Putt Putt and his bike high into the night sky.

"It rained flashlights for five minutes," recalled one of the boys. Putt's bike landed on top of him and resulted in a gash to his knee. "I've got to go home," Putt said, thus ending his fun for the night.

Chesapeake Bay Woman's Questionable Contributions and Commentary:

* They may have had pinball machines over there on Gwynn's Island, but over here at Hudgins, we had no such thing. The only time I saw a pinball machine was at Payne's Frosty (aka Tastee) Freeze and I had no time for that because I was too busy devouring a cheeseburger on a perfectly steamed bun.

**Service Station: Chesapeake Bay Children? Once upon a time, there was no such thing as self-serve gasoline pumps and debit cards. You pulled up to the gas pump, and a wonderful man in a striped shirt with his first name embroidered on his shirt came to your car and said hello. You made idle chit chat and then you told him how much gas you needed. Then, without being told, he checked your oil and your tire pressure. The only thing he wanted in return was some friendly conversation and a smile. You never left the comfort of your car. It was like going to a spa...a spa for people who need to fill their car up with gasoline.

***Seven flashlights taped to the handlebars of a minibike. Seven. Putting it mildly, before I mustered up the patience to tape seven flashlights to the handlebars of my minibike, I'd just as soon have revved the thing up and driven it straight off Cherry Point directly into the bay.

Therein lies the reason why I am not known for ingenuity but am renowned for lack of patience.


Unknown said...

I never would have taped those flashlights to the motor scooter. I would have borrowed Rita's crossing guard vest with all it's glow in the dark tape on it.

I bet you were tickled pink when Pong came along!

Anonymous said...

These kids nowadays. First, you gotta explain what a "service station" is, and then you have to describe what it's like to have fun that doesn't involve some sort of video screen.

About a year ago, Sunday evening dinner was almost ready and the neighbors were over, when all of a sudden the lights went out. We lit candles, finished dinner on the gas grill, ate our fill, took photos, and had a grand time, and at the end, the children agreed that it was fun and when can we do this again? I have been threatening to throw the power main monthly since then. Time to make good on my threat.

This also makes me think of hanging out at my grandma's house where there was nothing else to do except ride bikes to the bottom of the hill and get a 25 cent coke from the machine in front of the carwash. AND WE LIKED IT! Good times.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that the nice service station attendant would also clean your windshield, and check your windshield wipers:) Those were the days!

The mini bikes were not the demise of the nice kids in my area. What REALLY shook things up was when one boy was given a replica of the General Lee. It even had the same horn!!! Things were never the same.....

Mental P Mama said...

We called it the Filling Station. You'd sit in the car with the intoxicating aroma of gas filling the air while the attendant washed every window, checked the oil, and then brought a little slip of paper. You signed the paper and drove off. Miraculous.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - You really need to post another Rita story - they're all hilarious.

SINAFF - I agree. I used to go to my grandmother's house in Gloucester and she had NO toys. One tiny TV set (if that screen was12" I'd be surprised) with the standard 3 channels, and we had to watch what she watched: the 6:00 news and Lawrence Welk. We had to invent our fun or play outside, where we still had to invent our fun.

BHE - When I first wrote this, I actually said the guy checked your wiper fluid, and then realized there was no wiper fluid, not in my car anyway. I knew he checked something to do with the wiper but couldn't remember what.

MPM - My grandfather called it a filling station too.

Angela said...

We now live on the border to Poland where the gas is cheaper! And guess what, the friendly man came and gently took the thing (whatsitcalled?)out of my hand, filled the gas for me, then wiped my windscreen and chatted with me in Polish (he chatted, I listened, and then said dzienkuje, meaning thank you). What a nice surprise.

nativedevil said...

I saw two movies at Donks: "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Jungle Book" Yes, two extremes, to be sure, considering I was no older than six or seven.
I had an old, worn out mini-bike than burned more oil than OPEC. By the end of the night, I usually had to walk it down the driveway. Fun days!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

BN - You're very lucky. What I wouldn't give for someone to clean my windshield...

Angela - You too are lucky. Pumping gas is one of my least favorite activities, especially due to the fact that twice in the past six months I've driven off with the nozzle still lodged in the gas tank.

ND - I saw Tarzan--in black and white--at Donks.

Unknown said...

Mini bikes! How stinking cool is that? I wasn't allowed on anything motorized, but I think I would have liked that!

Putt Putt sounds like a lovely person. I am sorry for your loss.