Hudson: Boy toys

Uncle Clyde spent twenty years of his life as a carpenter building boats for the Navy, and another thirty years in the textile mills. He always hankered for a little boat of his own, but he never seemed to have time to build one, what with all the working and fishing he did.

Ambling Along by Jay Hudson

Ambling Along
by Jay Hudson

He was an avid fisherman and model maker, but by the time he got to where he could afford to build anything he dreamed of, his mind and body began to fail.

However, his itch to own a boat of his own was an all-consuming passion . He started watching ads in the newspapers.

He finally spotted an ad that was joy to his soul, “Free boat.You remove.”  Most boats in his price range were too far away, with gas being so expensive and all. Seemed like everytime he wanted something, whoever was President would start a little war and drive up the price of gas. Nevertheless, Uncle Clyde called the number and made arrangements to drive down to the coast to look at the boat.

“Ye ain’t got time to be foolin’ around going to look at no boat,” Moaned Aunt Clemie.
“The roof has been leaking 10 years and ye ain’t took the time to fix it yet.
Oughta be up on the roof tomorrow instead of wasting time going to look at a dumb old boat. What is it with you men and your little toys?”

She was beginning to talk a little like an old sailor-woman herself.

“Weather woman said it’s going to rain tomorrow, so I can’t very well fix a leak in the rain. Boat probably ain’t worth hauling this far, but we’ll go take a look at it anyway, and the price is right in line with our budget. I can’t believe our good fortune in finding a boat so close to home.”

Uncle Clyde had already picked out a spot to park the boat , assuming it was worth bringing home. The south side of Clemie’s rose garden was the perfect spot, he thought.

Uncle Clyde went to bed with little boats dancing through his dreams.

The next morning, while he  was making arrangements to pick up the boat, Aunt Clemie started ranting again. She wasn’t ready to give up.

“The yard is a mess, and you never listen to me when I want something.”

She was still upset, so Uncle Clyde said he needed to run to the hardware to pick up a few boat things. Clemie was muttering incoherently as he drove out of the yard.

When Uncle Clyde returned from the hardware, Aunt Clemie hollered, ” I’m going with you, else you’ll get lost before you find the ocean.”

Clyde didn’t want to leave her home alone feeling deprived and all, so he said, “Ok, Sweetpea.”
She loved his company because he wasn’t a very demanding husband. She could do just about as she pleased, within limits, of course.

They hurried on their way to see the boat.  It was a dandy, Uncle Clyde thought. But Aunt Clemie didn’t see it that way.

“Why, Clyde, that thing ain’t fit to haul back to Rockingham. Look at all that painting it needs.”

Uncle Clyde soon saw why the boat was free. The owners wife wanted it out of her yard so she could make a flower bed.

Just as they had finished exchanging pleasantries with the other couple, it started raining.
When the lightning started, Aunt Clemie started giving directions and otherwise bossing things. Several times she reminded Uncle Clyde that his last psychiatrist said he might really be crazy.

With Aunt Clemie’s help, the boat was finally loaded and they headed down the highway. It was raining like a monsoon by then. The boat started moving from side-to -side, and it got closer to the truck when they stopped at lights.

The boat was almost off the trailer when Uncle Clyde pulled into a Golden Corral parking lot. They both got soggy wet while they strapped the boat down tighter.
Clemie was very unhappy by then.
A fishing-man gets use to unpleasantness like that, but a dainty lady can stand only so much, you know.

Before they got to Rockingham, Aunt Clemie said, ” You’ll  probably get the blasted thing stuck in the mud near my rose garden the way it’s been raining, so be careful.”

She jumped out of the truck and stepped right in to the wet mud. She sloshed in to the house while Uncle Clyde was trying to park the boat. Backing a boat in wet mud while it is still raining is not an easy chore. Uncle Clyde managed to tear up the rose garden, and sling mud all over the boat and truck.

You know how dirty a man’s hands get when he has been fishing all day, handling worms and fish, and no telling what else he’s touched?

Well, the deed was done! Uncle Clyde went in to the house singing as he tracked mud everywhere. He was as proud of his little boat as the Queen of England must be with her little yacht.

The next morning he was up at the crack of dawn. He wanted to see what his yacht looked like at first light. It was a beauty in spite of all the peeling paint, and the missing rub rails. If he’d had a radio, he probably would have called the Coast Guard to get a weather report.

Sometimes, little boys just can’t resist acting silly. Suddenly, Uncle Clyde jumped over the railing and stood at attention and shouted, “Capn’s on the bridge.”

Uncle Clyde wrote me a letter asking me what I thought about his little yacht. It was only 18 feet long, but…

Knowing how much he always wanted a boat, I answered him in nautical terms that I thought would tickle him.

“Well, I say, old chap. It’s about time someone in this bloomin’ family owned a real yacht. Remember, when the sun sets on the yardarm, splice a mainbrace. Ship ahoy !
Hope you enjoy your new toy.

Your nephew,
Popeye Jay

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