Monday, May 5, 2008

Fish Nets, Morse Code, Gift Wrapping and Mothers Day

Joan at her Desk in the 70's at Pack & Paddle

Growing up, my family had 2 older sisters, me and two twin younger brothers. This was a handful I am sure for my parents. When I starting thinking about Mothers day and what I could blog about, it occured to me that we had a very unique upbringing that helped to form who and what we are as a family, and in turn formed a lot of what we all are as parents now.

As a younger kid, I can remember always being involved in projects that my mom came up with for us. At one time we were all making fish nets from strings with long plastic net shuttles. We would all sit there and make nets for hours. How my mom got our attention focused on this for so long, I have no idea. I once spent (what seemed like) an entire summer learning Morse Code for a scout merit badge. We would click out dot dot dot; dash dash dash; dot dot dot for hours trying to learn this important skill. During the winter, I can remember making "icycles" by turning the sprinkler on the bushes during freezing weather (yes - it did freeze back in those days). We were constantly taking classes at the Natural History Museum. My favorite was a Taxidermy class. As we drove the roads, my eyes would be peeled for road kill that would make a good subject for my next taxidermy project. What other mom would pull over to the side of the road to pick up a dead hawk?

As we got older, we branched into canoeing, taking trips to Saline Bayou, Ouiska Chitto, Tangipahoa, Buffalo River, Ouchita River, Nantahala River, and many more. I can remember one freezing cold Thanksgiving trip to the Ouchita. My mom told me to go and burn the trash. I grabbed the nearest trash bag and threw it on the fire. Turned out the bag was full of wool socks. Needless to say I was in the dog house for that one.

Since 1974, our family has been drawn together by Pack & Paddle. Growing up we all served in many different roles in the shop. My brothers and I were gift wrappers in our teens every Christmas. This was the day and age of actually wrapping presents in a box with wrapping paper. You've never seen such unconventional wrapping jobs. We tuned skis, handled rental canoes, folded shirts and once tore down an entire barn for the wood that is now on the inside of Pack & Paddle.

I think the genius of my mom was creating situations for us to explore, learn, work and grow. She was a "Tom Sawyer" infecting us with enthusiasm for the strangest of pursuits. My siblings and I will always be thankful to our mom for instilling in us a questing mind that wants to answer the question "what if?" and questing nature that wants to know what's around the next bend. This adventurous spirit was tempered by the fires of growing up and working in a family business. The frustrations and opportunities of the situations the business created grew us into problem solvers, risk takers and hard workers. These situations were created by both our parents working together to create these opportunities for their kids. As parents, we can all learn from Joan and Doc and the unusual way that they raised their gaggle of 5.

Happy Mothers Day Mom! We appreciate you and love you!

John, Cheryll, Louise, Doug and Les

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