Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Great Grape Lake

Sometimes my mind wanders and the other day I was reflecting on a moment I enjoyed with my father as a young child. We were out fishing on Indian Lake (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) armed with fishing equipment and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

Well you know kids I became bored because the fish weren’t biting and began looking for other forms of entertainment. It’s at that point I decided to pour some of the grape soda I was drinking into the lake. My little kid’s brain fantasized that by doing that I could turn the lake into one giant grape soda, a lifetime’s supply and then some. Of course my dad didn’t appreciate me wasting the pop.

The reality is that my parents both grew up during the depression. They knew what it was like to go without and buying the cheaper brand was something you did not by choice, but by necessity. Growing up I mostly remember the store bought brands and not the brand name products lining our shelves at home. If you are old enough to remember the A & P stores you probably remember the Ann Page products.

My mother came from a bigger family than my dad and to this day watches her pennies. I sometimes tell her to treat herself once in a while, but those impressions made by the depression and WW II live on. I’m always amazed at the no-name products she buys. Except of course for the Schwan’s man, which seems to be the only type of product she’s willing to pay a little more for.

Recently she stayed with me for a couple of weeks and we went shopping together. For the first time I saw how she thinks and how far she can stretch a meal. I have to admit that since then I’m thinking along similar lines. This morning after munching on the plastic bag filled with carrots I brought to work, I started thinking about how many times I might be able to use that bag again.

Getting back to the fishing venture with my dad. There’s no way I was going to turn Indian Lake into the “Great Grape Lake,” but it’s probably all for the best. At the time there were a lot of cabins and resorts along the lake that were pumping their sewage into it. You can pretty much guess how that grape soda dipped from the lake would have tasted. Still I enjoyed the time with my dad and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with their Ann Page peanut butter and jelly.

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