Thursday, May 8, 2014


In the summer of 1966, my family took the only just-for-pleasure vacation in my memory, in response to my request that we "go camping but not like moving somewhere". We spent a long weekend on the Frio River near Leakey, Texas, in a private waterfront campground called Camp River View.

My older brother announced he was not going with us at the last minute, and my father had to use physical violence to get him in the car. The two-hour drive there from Dilley was hellish, with Craig in the back seat venting his rage on me and Bill.

Once there, my father discovered the rental fee was $1.50 per day instead of the $1 he had been told, and he ranted at the woman attendant, saying he would not be cheated, we were turning around and going back home. I began crying and my mother intervened, insisting he pony up and drive us in. He went into a sulk that lasted the rest of the weekend, refusing to set up camp or participate in any way.

Despite him and the threat of Craig's proximity, Bill and I had a blast, getting to frolic for hours in the cold clear water which was shallow enough that we could safely wear styrofoam tubes and not worry about drowning. Mama fed us sandwiches and Shasta sodas from the cooler, and sat on the riverbank watching us, laughing with us. Craig disappeared for hours at a stretch and Daddy steamed at the concrete slab which was our site. At night, Bill and I slept on quilts in the back of the pickup, looking up at the stars, while the three adults and near-adults were on borrowed cots on the slab.

All of Mama's photos from that weekend are shot through with a light leak in her failing Brownie camera. But I don't need the photographs, really. It was a rare time of freedom from worry for me, us two young ones protected by Mama.

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