Float Rite Park

Float Rite1It’s been my experience that every good thing is immediately followed by the mundane.

And every great thing—by pain.

Drop the needle on the record: the opening bars of Jackson Browne’s “The Load-Out.” It’s Saturday, Aug. 5, 1978: “Pack it up and tear it down.” That was the bittersweet ending to Camp Shamineau, 1978. Then set it up back in town, at Tonka Toys, “workin’ for that minimum wage.”

That was the mundane.

But the pain was more drawn-out. With the long hot month of August stretching out ahead, I was aching to see Debbie again. We made plans for a date to Disco-Trek and a big excursion with camp friends to the State Fair at month’s end.

But once back in the clutches of work and home life, it was hard to get anything going. Sunday night, Aug. 6: “A funny thing happened, a minute ago, at around 12:30 a.m. Just once, but it did: The phone rang. I wonder who…” It could’ve been Debbie, or even Kim, sneaking a late call or, most likely, just a wrong number.

The following afternoon I was back on the factory floor, working Table 4 with twin brothers from Hopkins-Eisenhower high school named Brad and Tim Fischer. Kevin Gibson, a lanky, older musician guy I’d befriended, told me Dave had quit while I was away at camp. “Hey,” Kevin said to me somewhat laconically, “You bring me back a pine tree?” They were hiring new people, but the routine remained the same. “Worked Table 21 with Brad and another guy and Hippie,” the diary reads on Aug. 8. “What a crazy night. My hands hurt.”

The next day I joined Mom in the front yard, helping her shuck corn and strip green beans for dinner. I was fighting a midsummer head cold, and hoping for calls back from Deb. Then, at work that night, a breakthrough. Our floor supervisor, Cindy, moved me from Table 16 after dinner break to the tumbler-deburrer. It involved a wage hike just for working that station. And I’d be working alone.

A forklift would stop by with a bin full of parts that needed deburring, the driver would dump them into the tumbler and, like a huge drying machine, the parts rolled around for a set amount of time. I had to keep a log of which parts were going in and how long they were deburred. Equipped with a small desk and stool, lamp, pencils, logging sheets and timer, I was in the factory sweet spot!

After work, I had girls on my mind. I was missing Deb, but also thinking about Kim and Lisa. Lisa’s chats over Cokes at the Crystal Burger King were restorative. It’d been too long since we’d caught up, as she wasn’t even home the afternoon I left for camp. When Deb called back on Aug. 11, saying she was excited that we might go to the State Fair, I was happy again. “I’m beginning to feel,” I wrote in the diary, “more like a boyfriend to her.”

The excitement intensified Saturday, Aug. 12, when I headed to Lisa’s house just after 10 a.m. She was “a little tired/hung from the night before … we talked about everything—Camp, life, Debbie, love…” After an hour I left for Deb’s where I finally met her mom and dad, sister and brother, who I realized I’d met at camp years earlier. I didn’t stay long.

Sunday brought further respite from the mundanity. My brother, his neighborhood friend Joe, my buddy Steve and I packed into Mom’s car for a day spent tubing on the Apple River in Somerset, Wisconsin.Float Rite2

We left the car at Float Rite Park around 1 p.m., catching a bus with our inner tubes to the top of the river to drift back down to the park. It was a careless summer’s day—likely one of the last times I’d enjoy days like that after college had started. All down the river I thought of Debbie—except for the time we boys “attempted to meet these two real keepers … but they ran into friends and we (metaphorically) waved goodbye.”

Monday afternoon I was back on the factory floor—feeling the weight of the mundane again—and wondering what autumn had in store.

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~ by completelyinthedark on June 7, 2013.

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