Wauconda in the 1950's was an idyllic little resort town in northern Illinois, where my father's sister and her husband owned a piece of the shoreline on Bang's Lake. Shady Crest they called it. There was a big house and 5 cabins on the property, and the house had several small apartments on the second floor that rented out for the summer, just like the cabins. People would come, some couples but mostly families, and spend a week, sometimes two (and rarely, longer) and then new people would come, so that over the length of the summer there came a constant flow of new playmates for me and my cousins.
We were lucky. We got to stay there for the whole summer.
By this time of the year, having spent most of the summer in the water (swimming), on the water (in a rowboat), or around the water (doing chores like clearing the beach of seaweed in the morning - before the guests woke up), I was nut brown from head to toe and my blond hair (I was blond as a child) was bleached white by the sun. I don't ever remember having had a sunburn. At least, not then.
I do, however, remember getting sick. Horribly, wretchedly, sick.
Or, should I say 'retchingly' sick.
I was five. Maybe six, tops. Everybody was excited because Uncle John was going to fly in with his seaplane and take us kids up for a ride. I was excited too, but I was also hungry. And everyone was down on the beach, waiting for Uncle John.
I was in the kitchen of the big house. Alone. I took a chair and climbed up to the counter top so I could reach the cabinets. Where the food was, or so I thought. At that age, I wasn't really aware of where food came from, or where it was stored, (other than the Frigidaire, but we weren't allowed to go in the fridge - there was a problem some people had closing the door) but I had seen cookies and crackers and stuff, in their boxes, on the shelves, of the cabinets.
I opened the cabinet and found, there on the first shelf, a can of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup.
Thick, sweet, syrupy chocolate.
I don't know if I opened the can or if it was opened already. All I can really remember, now, is how sick I suddenly got after I had put the can back on the shelf (much lighter than it had originally been) and walked out onto the sun porch.
A short time later, I watched as Uncle John's plane landed and then took off several times. I was too sick to get off the chaise on the sun porch, even though I desperately wanted to be on that beach, and up in that plane.
I missed the plane ride that year. I made it the next year, though. It was worth the wait.
What I wasn't able to do, though, for years afterward, was even LOOK at chocolate syrup. Not until I was past 40 was I able to stomach chocolate syrup on my ice cream.
If I knew what the life lesson was in all of this I'd be sure to tell you - I mean, at my age that's about all you've got that's of any real value - the life lessons you've learned that you can pass along to others. But I don't know what this one is.
I will say though, that I am well and truly over the aversion to chocolate syrup.
I just noticed that today is Friday the 13th. 702 years, 10 months ago, today, on another Friday the 13th, the Knights Templar virtually ceased to exist, due to the efforts of the King of France and the Pope. An ugly story of greed and politics - wow ... sounds like now.
Perhaps another life lesson?