Friday, July 08, 2022

Lakeside nostalgia--guest blogger Jennifer Mathews-Santulli

We have sold our cottage in Lakeside, but are leasing it for the final summer.  The air conditioning died 2 weeks ago, and is being installed today ( for new owners, of course).  It feels different, of course, especially since several in our neighborhood haven't returned due to illness, or busy schedules "back home" (usually doctors' appointments and grandchildren's activities).  I noticed this very nice nostalgia piece on Jennifer's Facebook post today.  I knew her mother--and perhaps I knew Jennifer when she was a little girl playing in Perry Park which was near her parents' house and the first cottage we rented back in 1974. She gave permission to repost it here, so enjoy a peek back.

"It was very hot and humid all day yesterday. Portable A/C units blasting all day… for the relief of it in a few rooms in the cottage. It is nothing fancy but we love it that way… it’s like going back in time to Mayberry… you don’t have to lock up your bikes in the park… chances are, if you forgot it last night… it will still be there in the morning. Right where you left it. Unless some kid took it on a late night joy ride… and it will be discovered 4 blocks away discarded after the fun. Some neighbor will recognize it from a lost bike sign and you’ll go pick it up. Last night, I listened as I heard the American flag start to flap… after dropping heavy and low thru the heat of yesterday. It’s a welcome change and you snuggle in tight with a smile. You know that the northeast winds have blown in and will chase the thick humidity away leaving a crisp chilliness. Great sleeping weather. Perfect for reading on the porch.. or taking a nap. Everybody is out riding bikes and golf carts… kids racing, cousins reunited, birds and squirrels chirping and scurrying for seeds and bugs. Rushing to or from summer jobs up here… or out to pick up some forgotten BBQ or picnic supplies.
 
In my opinion, this is some sort of surreal little pocket of heaven which I have been so lucky to be a part of all these years of my life. Again, unlike the new trend of leveling the older cottages and rebuilding up newer versions of themselves, our place is almost still original, save the shower updates in which my mother had the beloved Victorian tubs hauled away… and kitchen updates years ago… but the memories we have made in this place echo in my heart and mind all thru these years. I had first loves in this place, and brought my fresh faced new fianc√© here. I nursed and rocked my babies under the moonlight rocking on vintage white wickers… until they snoozed back in bed. I taught my 3 girls how to ride their bikes or paint rocks or sing Bible school songs here. We experimented with food options and became instant chefs for only our people here. I walked dogs by the beloved great Erie lake shore here in the day and nighttime, being leery of running into midnight “friends” of the skunks or raccoons. I have stood face to face with a deer or coyote in the predawn’s light going down to the lake front. What a thrill… I had late night boat rides with old boyfriends… watching the bobbing lights on the nearby Islands… that feeling of being so young and free… and alive. I am still friends with many of these people still today… it doesn’t matter how different our lives are or have taken us… we all share that “Lakeside Bond” that does not seem to break. That’s what is so great about old friends and most especially up here.
 
I have met celebrities while being a young waitress across from the concert venue… serving them food and having the opportunity to chat awhile. And experiencing the MAGIC of hearing them play in that great and unique auditorium.. something so intimate and “back in the day” that never goes away. Magical nights when the wind turns during a program and gusts welcomed breezes to the performers.. sometimes bringing them to change their intended set list to something more intimate. Including the audience because they feel Lakeside’s spell, too.

Conversely, I have nursed my dying mother here in this cottage… watching her great light fade away slowly while secretly begging God for a miracle so she could stay awhile longer in this place… my 3 girls spread around her holding her hands and whispering gratefulness for what she had brought to us in this place… a second mother to them really… after my sad divorce. What memories we share singing and reading and taking walks and telling stories. . . playing cards games or “chicken foot” dominoes with their Nana.
 
And now I am caring for my elderly Pop. He’s still kicking it but very frail. Still hanging on. We go back and forth some . . . he’s much grumpier than my mom ever was but still . . .  he’s my dad and I love him. He took me fishing off his wooden Lyman boat.. we caught two at a time on perch double hooks. I got many a suntan on that boat . . .  while my dad and my brother fished. We drove to Canada to Pelee island and bought our English tea cups and woolen wear counting our Canadian coin change.
 
So many memories . . .  such a different life than my other 10 months of teaching in a Title One school in an Atlanta suburb. I love Lakeside for all it has given to me and my family. It always goes by too fast… And I will never forget it.

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