10/20/2008

Sailing Memory


Sailing on the Chesapeake Saturday was exciting - and when I was thinking about it later - I connected with the memory of another afternoon that I went sailing on the Chesapeake.

In 1954 shortly after I arrived in Baltimore to enter nurse's training at The Johns Hopkins Hospital I met a local guy at one of the informal "mixers" at Hampton House. He was tall, very tall, sun-tanned, with blonde hair bleached several shades lighter by the sun. You know, a Tab Hunter kind of guy. And, did I say he was very cute looking too? (This was before I met Jim.)

During that party he told me about his sail-boat which was docked somewhere on the Bay near his parents home. I don't remember our conversation but I would not be surprised if I had told him about the Hubbard and how I had always wanted to sail on it. You know, making small talk.

Would I like to go sailing? We would make up a group for a Sunday afternoon.
I was persuaded. I said, Yes.

On that Sunday afternoon Jack arrived in his shining well-finned Chevrolet - lots of gleaming chrome and white wall tires. Such a gentleman - he opened the door for me and I slid into the red leather front seat.

I did not tell him that not only was I not a swimmer; that I was deathly afraid of the water.

As I recall we met two other couples at the boat dock. They were laughing and friendly and put me right at ease. This guy had an impressive boat: tall masts, more than two sails, gleaming polished wood and any wood that wasn't polished was freshly painted white. He must have spent hours tending to it. As we shoved off he suggested I move up front and get some sun on the prow. I did - stretched out on the cool wood and tried to relax.

The wind picked up. The boat was slipping quickly through the water - suddenly the boat "tacked " to the left - on the shore-side. The boat leaned toward the water - and I was rolling over and over and into the water. I began thrashing my arms frantically and screaming.

"Help. Help." My date seemed unconcerned so I called out louder as I kicked my legs in a sort of desperate dog-paddle to keep my head above water.

That tall, blonde guy didn't look so cute when he leaned over the edge of his sail-boat and called out to me - " Ellouise, calm down, if you put your feet down - you can walk to shore - we will come around and pick you up." Everyone was laughing - all except one.
Me.

I decided I could live without him and his boat so that was the end of my sailing on the Chesapeake. Until this past Saturday.