On July 3rd, 1977, I met Susan Lynn Johnson at a Fourth of July Party, and that day, I learned what the phrase “Love at First Sight” really meant! I don’t know why, but I do know that I loved that young lady from the first moments we were together, and if anything, the years between then and now have only strengthened my love for her! 43 years ago, my fate was sealed, and 41 years ago today, at the CW Post Interfaith Chapel, we became one!
Thank you for 41 wonderful years, for three great kids, for the wonderful memories (even if you don’t always remember all the things I do! I know…my memory is a pain in the ass!), for the lives we’ve lived, and the lives we’ve touched over the years! Thank you for saying yes, and for being with me through all the various elements of the dream lives we have lived, because we have really lived our dreams, and that is really all about you! I would gladly do it all over again, as long as I have you at my side!
Happy Anniversary Baby, and may there be many more for us to celebrate together!!!
PS – Susie is the copy editor on this blog, but since she did not see this post before it was published, all errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and the like, belong exclusively to the author…ME!
Early in 1976, WHN Radio negotiated and signed a new contract with Local 1212 of IBEW. Because the WHN Transmitter in East Rutherford, NJ had recently been unmanned, the contract called for a reduction of 2 members of the Engineering Department. The contract detailed a generous separation pay of one year’s salary, along with one year of medical benefits, as well as the ability for those leaving to collect NYS Unemployment Insurance. One of the older guys in the department took the “buy out”, but when no one else was interested in leaving the department, after 4 years at the station, and being on the lowest rung of the seniority ladder, I was tapped to take the “buy out”. The one year of salary for me came to a figure somewhere in the mid $20,000, and what did I do with it? Well, I bought a boat!
For somewhere around $10,000, I traded in my 17 foot bow rider outboard for a brand new 1975 Wellcraft 21 foot Weekender. With a Ford 302 V/8 and an outdrive, a small cabin with two bunks, a place for a “head”, and a cockpit table, the boat was what kept me busy from my separation date in the early spring of 1976, till I started at WABC in August. It was a lot of fun setting up the boat at Coastwise Marine in Westport, Connecticut, and then when the weather turned to “boating weather”, getting a handle on running my new boat up and down the Saugatuck River, and in Long Island Sound! I was 26 years old, had money in the bank, a year of health insurance, and time on my hands. I immersed myself in the nautical way of life! In addition to buying and working on the boat, I took a Coast Guard Reserve Small Boat course, and joined a Nautical Book of the Month Club!
My book choices included things like Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling, Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator, as well as other useful books in my endeavor to master the act of running my small boat. There were also books about adventures people were having in small boats, and one of them that I still remember to this day was Lin and Larry Pardey’s Cruising in Seraffyn. The book told the story of Seraffyn, their wooden 24-foot engineless cutter and and how Lin and Larry built her with the hope of setting off for a few months of true freedom in spite of their limited finances. Their few months turned out to be a lifetime of sailing around the world, but that first book also turned out to be a carefully thought-out guide to living aboard a small boat, with fun and good seamanship as guiding principles. It was a true love story of Lin and Larry and a boat named Seraffyn, and the life it gave them!
I was captivated with the story and their adventures of first building, then launching, and ultimately cruising in Seraffyn. I was so captivated that when I was finished with the book, I wrote Lin and Larry a “fan letter” and sent it to them care of their publisher! About 6 months later, one day in the mail, I received a very obviously foreign Air Mail letter that was postmarked from Spain. It turned out that their publisher had forwarded my letter to them, and had it had finally caught up with them in Spain. The letter I got was from Lin, and she told me how happy they were to get my letter and that it had showed up at just the right time. Turns out they were in the midst of re-writing the follow up book called Seraffyn’s European Adventure. They’d had a particularly tough day, trying to work through some re-writes that their editor had asked for, and were at the breaking point. They really wondered if it was worth all the work, and if anyone cared. Then my letter showed up in the mail! Lin thanked me to expressing just what they needed to hear….to know that there was an audience out there in the literary world that cared about their life aboard Seraffyn, and that the work they were struggling with was indeed worth it. I treasured that letter and my connection with these two people, and in the end, I was very happy that I’d taken the time to write them and to encourage their continued effort to share their story with the rest of us.
The reason this memory came back to me, and I’m writing this now is because at the end of August, I was very sad to read in the NY Times that Larry Parday had died at the age of 80. During his lifetime, he had circumnavigated the world twice on wooden boats he had built, and along with his wife Lin, had told the tail of the life they lived. They were an incredible couple, led an extraordinary life, and were an inspiration to many, including a 26 year old between jobs with a new boat, and a love of a good sea tale!
Thank you Lin and Larry for your spirit of adventure. I hope the warm memory of their shared 55 year adventure will sustain Lin as she moves forward in life. Thank you for living the life many only dream about, and for connecting with me all those many years ago via that thin air mail stationary that contained your kind words of thanks. I have never forgotten you, or your letter!
Fair Winds and Following Seas sir, and thank you for sharing a life well lived with us!
Have you ever hosted a garage sale? In the almost 41 years that Susie and I have been married, she has hosted a couple of Garage Sales at our house. She did them in combination with her Mom and her Sister, and largely without my help. Why you may ask without my help? Because I am not a big fan of Garage Sales. In fact, I think my feeling about them mostly falls on the hate side. The idea of people picking through your stuff, trying to tell you that your $2 price really should be 50 cents, and doing their best to beat you down, and get the things for pennies on the dollar, really doesn’t seem like fun to me. And let’s not even begin to talk about the folks that try and show up before you’re ready to open and then become belligerent when you say no! Nope, not for me! I’m sorry but the amount of money you gain in holding one of these sales, just doesn’t seem to me to be worth the work and the aggravation!
When we sold our house of 30+ years in Mineola in 2017, and consolidated two houses we’d had since 2005, many people would have had a garage sale to rid themselves of excess items they no longer needed, but we didn’t. First dibs went to our kids. All three of them took items that were in our house and that they’d grown up with. Next we donated lots of items to the Vietnam Veterans Association, and other worthwhile charities in the area. Furniture that nobody wanted (too many of the Baby Boomer Generation are downsizing) went to needy families that could really use it. For the couple of high ticket items we wanted to get rid of, we turned to eBay, getting them sold the clean and simple way! But what, you may ask, does the preceding two paragraphs have to do with the title of this blog…The Free Table? Read on, and you will see!
Now that we call Ocean City our full time and only home, we love the fact that we have downsized our number of “things”. Frankly, the lifestyle we now want to live, in the house we now live in, just doesn’t lend itself to the way of the hoarder. Things like my complete set of High School Yearbooks or Susie’s extensive Cookbook Collection, just don’t have a place at the shore house. But, as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, we still manage to accumulate “things” that eventually just don’t have a place in our lives. Now the question is, what to do with these “things”?
Rather than throw out things that you no longer have a need for, but that somebody else may be able to use, Susie has taken an idea from our neighbors up Pennlyn Place, Jane and John Griffith. A couple of times a year, usually on a busy beach Saturday or Sunday, Susie places a table by the curb with a big sign on it that says
Yesterday was her second Free Table of the Summer of 2020, and it was very successful! In fact, it was more like a community Free Table, as our next door neighbor Doc contributed two wicker stools to the effort, and our new across the street neighbor Heather contributed a toaster to Susie’s Free Table! For her part, Susie’s items included excess ball caps, an old game system Kenny and Chris had left here, little knick knicks we’d picked up, a hand food processor, beach towel clips, old night lights, a hair dryer, some DVDs, a pair of new windshield wipers from a car we no longer own, a couple of bags, a grill pan, and a few other items. By the time Susie folded up the table, and put it back in the garage yesterday afternoon, all that was left was Doc’s two stools!
Susie was happy, folks who picked things up were happy (like our other neighbor Patti who took Heather’s excess toaster), and Susie got rid of a tub of “things” Win – Win all around…except for Doc with his stools! Oh, and we really owe a debt of gratitude to this lady who helped herself to a lot of “things” and who was caught on film by Heather!
I wish we knew her address…we’d just deliver the items to her in the future!