It’s twelve-thirty three on Thursday afternoon and I’m just sitting down at my laptop to write . My deadline is ten o’clock tonight, but I generally like to have everything wrapped up no later than Thursday morning. Often, I’m a day or two early. But not this week. This week is different.
We’re leaving for a two week vacation on Saturday morning; our yearly respite from the day-to-day grind. I desperately need some quiet time away from all the craziness that is life as we know it; away from the streetlights, the traffic, the noise that deafens us to that inner prompting; that still, small voice; that voice that I call God.
The week before we head North is always a busy time for me. I’m the one who plans everything. I make all the reservations and do all the other things that have to be done before we set out on our pilgrimage.
Being an overly organized obsessive-compulsive type, I sometimes go just a tad overboard in regard to the planning process. Who am I kidding? I always go overboard in regard to the planning process, and there are no ‘tads’ involved. I go way overboard!
I like to say that I’m ‘detail oriented’, but any half-competent shrink, of whom there are many, would tell you that I’m dealing with OCD – no question about it. Since I have ‘the disease,' I naturally love to plan. Planning and organizing come easily to me. People who are disorganized and capricious drive me nuts. I don’t understand them. They frustrate me.
Anyway, I’m approaching panic mode because I don’t have this column written yet. Oh, I’ve tried. Yesterday afternoon I’d planned to have it written and submitted, but things got in the way, or I guess I should say; I allowed things to get in the way. It was a choice. A bad one, but a choice nonetheless. We all make them; good or bad, and we have to take responsibility for the choices we make – and the consequences.
The bottom line is I chose to let outside influences get in the way of what I wanted to do and it’s my fault. I’m the one responsible. I allowed it to happen.
I had a few errands to do this morning and I spent a lot of time on the Internet and the phone making some last minute changes in our vacation plans so I was behind the eight ball from the get-go. Then a friend stopped by to drop off some Rolling Stones CD’s he’d made me for my drive to Maine and we got talking and laughing as we inevitably do when we’re together, and before I knew it the day was half gone.
So here I sit, pretending to write my column when what I’m really doing is thinking about all the things I still have to do before we leave on Saturday morning. Damn this OCD!
We didn’t take a lot of vacations when I was a kid. Mansfield was a predominantly blue-collar town back then and most of the families I knew didn’t have a lot of extra money for such things. Of course, this wasn’t true of every family in town, but it was definitely true of the majority.
We went on vacation on occasion, usually down to the Cape; sometimes to a family friend’s cottage in Marion. I loved going to Marion. It was a quiet little town, even during the summer. I remember going to band concerts at the bandstand in the center of town. We’d stretch out on a blanket and listen to the music as the ocean breeze wafted through the trees. It was such a peaceful place.
My brother, Bruce and I used to fish off the pier at the end of our street. We’d catch the ugliest, weirdest looking fish I’d ever seen. They were scary. To this day, I have no idea what kind of fish they were; I just remember that we’d cut the line and let them fall back in to the ocean so we didn’t have to touch them.
There was a baseball field right across from our friend’s cottage. The rich kids from Tabor Academy used to play their baseball games there and they’d change in to their uniforms in the garage that sat at the end of our friend’s property. We used to sit out on the field in our lawn chairs and watch their games. I didn’t know they were ‘rich kids’ until someone told me. I didn’t really notice things like that back then. It didn’t matter to me. I was too busy being a kid.
As I said, we didn’t go on a lot of vacations, but some of my fondest memories are of the times that we did, and the time we spent together as a family.
As I’ve mentioned in some of my past writings, Mansfield was largely made up of two ethnic groups when I was growing up– the Irish and the Italians. I’d venture to guess that ninety-nine percent of my friends and classmates fell in to one of those groups.
I had a friend, Uldis Liepins, who was Latvian. I’m fairly certain he’s the only person of Latvian decent I’ve ever known. His parents were from the old country and he had a sister whose name was Inta, though I may be spelling that incorrectly.
Uldis lived directly across the street from my friend, Eddie Unger, who I mentioned in a previous offering. Eddie was of German descent, so I guess I had two non-Irish/non-Italian friends. Apparently I was quite the international ambassador when I was younger.
Uldis’s dad grew strawberries on a large plot next to his house on Wood Avenue, which is right about where is now located. He also had a smoke house in his back yard where there was always a healthy supply of eels hanging from the rafters. Yup, you heard it correctly – eels!
Both the Liepins and Unger houses have been gone for some time now; demolished to clear the way for the burgeoning businesses that had begun to spring up all over town as Mansfield dealt with its growing pains.
I guess we all have to deal with growing pains. And I’m pretty sure they never stop.
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is a freelance writer and a Mansfield native, currently living in Easton. His column "Take Me Back" appears each Friday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com and his column, "The View From Here", may be seen each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com.