Chapter 5 – Beaches (Government Property: A Memoir of a Military Wife)


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Chapter Five

Beaches

With our move to the second base, we were a lot closer to the fishing piers down on the inlet. I had never really fished before, but I tried it once off the end of the pier and enjoyed it, so we usually went every beautiful day. We had our first child by now, and she was an infant in 1978 and would mainly sleep in her playpen so we could fish without too many interruptions.

I liked fishing, but I am afraid of live bait. Usually, we used frozen shrimp, which wasn’t a problem for me. If Andy used a small fish we had caught or worms, it was his job to bait the hooks and, he had to take all caught fish off the hook because I wouldn’t touch them. If they were big enough, they went into a cooler to take home so I could eat them. I loved eating fish, but he didn’t.

One day he got this bright idea. I was the one who ate the fish, so I should be the one who had to clean them. I wasn’t happy with this idea. He assured me the fish would be dead by then, and it wouldn’t be a problem. I reluctantly agreed.

He dumped the cooler of fish into our sink and handed me a knife. I reluctantly took the knife and reached in for a fish. I managed to clean it. Okay, that wasn’t so bad, I thought. I picked up the next one. It moved in my hand, and without thinking, I tossed that fish across the room and into the wall where it slid down to the floor, leaving a nasty slime mark. To say he was annoyed was putting it mildly. I reminded him that he promised me they would be dead. He went back to cleaning them.

Our first daughter was getting older, and keeping her in a playpen was getting harder. I was pregnant again by now, which would be the summer of 1979, and occasionally my fishing was interrupted as I had to watch the older child roam the pier when she refused to stay quietly in the playpen. She was 20 months old when her little sister appeared on the scene in October 1979. She could no longer be in the playpen as our 2nd daughter took her place. Now I had a toddler running around that I had to watch all the time.

We spent every weekend at the pier. The kids were pretty good, so we continued to take them. Getting a babysitter for every weekend wasn’t possible. We had our best friends Charlie and Kim take them occasionally, but we didn’t expect them to keep them every weekend. As it was when I went to work, they ended up watching first the one and then the two of them when the second one came along. They watched them so much that the oldest daughter started to call them mom and dad and us Terri and Andy. It took a while to break that habit.

As time went on, we had a toddler and an infant who was approximately eight months old and learning how to walk. With two toddlers walking, the youngest had to remain in the playpen. We put it next to us on the pier. The oldest was walking around and, she was interested in the fish wriggling by the fishermen. Those were sharks that the fishermen had left to die as they didn’t want to keep reeling them in.

One day the people around us started to yell, and eventually, we realized they were yelling at our daughter. While I was busy pulling a fish in, I had taken my eye off her. She was walking the pier and kicking the sharks back in. There were a lot of sharks in the water, and they were annoying when you were trying to fish and brought up a shark instead. Some of these were large too, not all of them were tiny. She stayed away from the large ones. She was afraid of those.

I stopped fishing and kept an eye on her. I was trying to get her to understand that she couldn’t kick anything back in. Try reasoning with a two-year-old. I had to go back to watching her and not fishing much.

The eight-month-old was amusing herself by throwing her toys out of the playpen. We picked them up, and she’d throw them back out. That was fine until she started throwing them over the side near the pier rails and into the water. Before I had realized it, she had thrown her bottle over the side and into the water, and we watched it float away. Great, now she had to be moved. Not to mention, we lost a whole bottle from our bottles allotted for the day.

We moved her playpen to the middle of the pier. We hoped it was far enough away from either side for her to throw either her toys or another bottle overboard. I had to settle for throwing my line into the water and letting my husband watch it and pull it in if something got hooked on it.

We spent every weekend and almost 24 hours a day there during those weekends. They did close at times, but we spent every open hour there on the weekends, and fishing was a significant part of our life at that time.

When we went back ten to fifteen years later to check out the area, it took forever to find the mobile home park that had been infested with roaches that we had lived in briefly, and when we did find it, it was nothing but a pile of junk. The homes were tossed around, smashed, and looked as if a giant child had a temper tantrum with his toys. We knew it was the right one because the A-frame office survived. We couldn’t figure out which mobile home we had once lived in though with all that mess. I did some research and saw that several tornadoes had hit that area over the years since we left there.

We found the pier and walked it for old time’s sake. I don’t remember fishing off it at that point. We had the girls with us at that point, and they weren’t much interested in fishing at the advanced ages of teenagers. They were happier back at the campground where there were many activities, including a pool and the travel trailer we had bought so we could go camping.

We also got permission to go on base, but everything there was different, as well. It used to be a very rural type area, but after all those years, it had grown as well as the towns surrounding it. We barely found anything that was still the same. It was kind of disappointing. Both of our old base housing areas were gone. The only thing I recognized was the “Dairy Queen” ice cream stand. It was still there.

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