I grew up in a town not all that much different than White Sands (much more on that later, as we get to know the town better). Sleepy little place right on the May River, a salt water estuary full of wonder — not to mention fresh seafood waiting for the rod & reel, crab line, shrimp net, or gig.
During my earliest years, my family had an old hand-made (by my father), wooden flat-bottom boat that we left tied up in the water. No practical way to put it on a trailer, so you had to haul the motor and gas can and all your stuff down through the mud to use it. I was taking it out as young as 7 or 8, although I had to row where I was going since I couldn’t carry the motor at that age. And once a year we pulled it ashore, flipped it over, scraped a year’s worth of barnacles off the bottom, and applied a fresh coat of paint. Green for the upper works, red and supposedly toxic to barnacles on the bottom (I never saw that it made much of a difference).
But around the time I turned 12 or so, we bought a fiberglass boat. Still not very big — you couldn’t ski behind it or anything — but perfect for a growing boy in love with the salt water. And a boat trailer, so you could take the boat out after using it.
When I turned 14 I got my drivers’ license. Yes, I can see all of you parents shuddering at the very thought. But that’s the way it was in the rural South back then. Daylight only — you had to be 16 before you could prowl the roads at night.
My very first rite of passage was — not taking a girl for a ride; good grief — putting the boat in the water. Which meant learning how to back a trailer down that narrow boat ramp. Probably with some crusty old fishermen watching, grading my performance.
Don’t remember any named Ollie and Joe, but there probably were. And they probably laughed at my early attempts to back a trailer.