Saturday, June 20, 2020

Happy Father's Day to All the Daddies...

Here's an old story (in poetry)
about the fireplace my father built
in our backyard in West Paterson, NJ.

Remembering my father, Frank H. Walsh
on Father's Day...

My parents, Frank & Frances Longo Walsh
and baby Maude at my first Christmas in 1944.


While camping along a river
in the Catskills with our family
during the 1950’s
Dad constructed a small rock dam
along the riverbank
to hold back enough water
to keep our beverages icy cold

We sat upon some of those river rocks
and dangled our feet
in the swiftly flowing mountain water
watching silvery minnows
maneuver around our toes

So many smooth grey rocks
gave my father an idea, so
when we were getting ready to leave
and the station wagon was packed
with all our equipment
Dad loaded every empty crevice
of the vehicle with as many rocks
as it could possibly hold

To vacate the campground
it was necessary to drive
across the river over
a creaky old covered bridge
Dad wasn’t at all sure the bridge
was strong enough
to permit the crossing
of our rock-laden station wagon
(which must have weighed
as much as an armored tank)

He told Mom and us kids
to walk across the bridge
then he slowly and carefully
with chassis nearly scraping ground
drove successfully across

Back home, Dad used those rocks
to build a backyard fireplace
which became the gathering place
for family and neighbors
centered around spectacular
blazes on warm summer nights

We roasted hot dogs and potatoes and
corn-on-the-cob and threaded marshmallows
on sticks and toasted them till they were charred
We sang, “Michael, Row the Boat to Shore”
and every camp song we could remember
and tossed woodchips into the fire
to watch the sparks fly

Once the fire blazed so high
someone from a block away
called the West Paterson Fire Department
and long red fire trucks, sirens blaring
pulled up in front of our house
Dad got a warning, squelched the flames
and offered the firemen hot dogs and beer

Many favorite memories were kindled
while swatting mosquitos
collecting fireflies in jars
watching our marshmallows burn to a crisp
under shooting sparks and stars
and summer moons
around that river rock fireplace
on Jackson Avenue
so many years ago

Maude Carolan Pych

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