Short & Silly
Thinking back on my widowed mother with five kids, I can recall plenty of instances where having my father alive would have helped. One very vivid scenario was when she took my brother, his friend, and I to Fortescue, a popular crabbing area. I'm not sure what she was thinking when she took three 10-year-old-ish kids out into what was basically a row boat with a small engine and a bucket of "chum" which equates to chopped up fish as bait.
Who did she think was going to take the long needle thing and push it through half a fish with its guts hanging out?
What did she expect to do with the crabs we caught?
Did she not think that three kids could tip a boat?
My guess is that she never thought of any of this. Growing up in South Philadelphia, she only saw grass if it grew between the cracks in the pavement. Expecting her to have a clue in open water was just plain stupid. Still, she tried. Failed, but tried. lol
On the only crabbing trip we ever went on, we all started screaming at each other, we didn't tipped over the boat-- but we DID knock over the cooler of crabs. The crabs were everywhere, we stood on the seats, which again almost turned over the boat. My poor mother scooped up the crabs from the bottom with a bucket. Then the engine died and a larger boat toed us into shore. It took two guys to carry the cooler into the trunk of the car when one said, "Hey lady, how many crabs did you catch? This thing weigh a ton!"
She opened the lid of the cooler, and lo and behold she had the cooler filled with water. "Lady, do you know you aren't supposed to fill the cooler with water? You're going to drown the crabs."
"Drown the crabs? I just took them out of the ocean, you can't drown crabs!" She didn't believe him, and started home. Anyone who has read my "Directionally Challenged Mother" post will understand that a typical one hour ride home took about four hours. By the time we got home, the crabs were floating in the cooler. What she was expecting to do with the crabs had they lived still baffles me. Never in her life did she cook crabs, fish, or most any natural food I can remember. Certainly never something that was alive when she got it. As I said once before, she swears she used to bake apple pies from the tree in our yard. The problem is that there was NO apple tree in our yard--- and she NEVER baked a pie lol.
Another incident occurred with a boat in our family. We grew up on a creek, and the teen girls would lay out and get tanned. It was the 70's & 80's, and skin cancer was not an issue at the time. What happens when you are around water? The water reflects, creating a stronger and faster tan. So what do you think teen girls decided to do? That's right, they climbed into a row boat and tied it to the dock then paddled to the center of the creek and laid down for sun. With their eyes closed. During a tide change.
Before they knew it, they were headed to the Delaware River and Philadelphia. Keep in mind, my sisters were born in South Philadelphia and spent most of their upbringing there, so they were not too familiar with how "the great outdoors" worked in New Jersey. You see, when they realized they floated down the creek, they tried to paddle home. That didn't work well, as they both paddled on the same side of the boat, turning it in circles as they drifted further and further from home. They screamed for help, and the neighbors waved, thinking they were saying hello.
At one point they almost made it to shore when a German Sheppard saw them and tried to attack them. This was especially traumatic for Gabby who is terrified of dogs, even tea cup poodles. She tried to hit the dog with a wooden oar, and then she dropped it in the water and it floated away. The girls continued to paddle in circles.
When my mother came home from work, she found the house and yard empty, expecting the girls to be there. The doors of the house were unlocked, the radio blasted in the yard, and a rope was tied to the dock, but that was it. She frantically scoured the neighborhood looking for evidence of the girls when a neighbor said, "Yeah, I saw them floating down the creek. They were waving and playing with a dog on the other side of the creek bed." Mom panicked knowing Gabby would never "play" with a dog.
Now, you might be thinking "What the hell is up with that neighbor? Didn't he realize the girls were in trouble?" But cut the guy a break. When you grow up on the water, rule #1 is paddle on one side then the other. When you grow up in South Philadelphia rule #1 is duck if hear gun shots. The survival tactics are completely different.
Luckily, some of the neighbors got together and pulled the girls to shore. It's a good thing they didn't wind up in the river. I could just imagine the US Coast Guard calling my mother "Uh, ma'am, we found your girls in a row boat, can you come get them?"
Considering Mom never found our town's library even after 40 years of living here, I seriously doubt she could have found the US Coast Guard post.