Carlson family

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Carlson family

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Scattered reminiscences of Robert S. Carlson, son of Robert C. E. and Grace (NYSC c[irca] 1952- c[irca] 1960)

Dad joined the North Shore Yacht Club in about 1952. The members were nearly all sailboat enthusiasts, and all sailboats were of the Fleetwind Arrow type, about 18 feet long by six feet wide, with a main sail and jib (smaller front sail). The beach was quite sandy, and a line of metal grids made it easier to move a boat-laden trailer across the sand. An electric winch pulled the boat/trailer combination out of the water. The yacht club area was at the bottom of Park Avenue in Highland Park and the public beach was to the south. The only access in or out was via a single-lane road that descended and ascended the ravine through a series of switchbacks. In case someone started up or down when someone else was already moving through, there were two or three pullouts where a car could pull over to let a car and trailer
pass. (An ascending exit road was built to the north in the 1960s or '70s.)
There was only one family with a motorboat: Stan and Marian Scruggs, who moved to Texas around 1960 and owned a motel on (South?) Padre Island.
Strong memories of touch and sound came from the clubhouse. The ground-level floor in the clubhouse was made of concrete, and naturally there was a coating of sand on busy days. The cool temperature of the concrete and the texture of the sand on top of it made for a unique sensation on the feet that can still be conjured up. The principal indoor memory, however, is of the Coca-Cola machine. From what I found on the Internet, the machine that most clearly resembles the one at NSYC is the Vendo 59. It was made from 1948-1951 and composed of a Westinghouse refrigeration unit and Vendo mechanical works (see photos). You put ten cents into the slot, turned a metal disc until it
stopped (there was a wonderful ratchet sound), and then opened a little hatch in the cover and pulled out your 8-ounce bottle of ice-cold coke. I saw it refilled once or twice and wasDad joined the North Shore Yacht Club in about 1952. The members were nearly all sailboat enthusiasts, and all sailboats were of the Fleetwind Arrow type, about 18 feet long by six feet wide, with a main sail and jib (smaller front sail). The beach was quite sandy, and a line of metal grids made it easier to move a boat-laden trailer across the sand. An electric winch pulled the boat/trailer
combination out of the water.
The yacht club area was at the bottom of Park Avenue in Highland Park and the public beach was to
the south. The only access in or out was via a single-lane road that descended and ascended the ravine
through a series of switchbacks. In case someone started up or down when someone else was already
moving through, there were two or three pullouts where a car could pull over to let a car and trailer
pass. (An ascending exit road was built to the north in the 1960s or '70s.)
There was only one family with a motorboat: Stan and Marian Scruggs, who moved to Texas around
1960 and owned a motel on (South?) Padre Island.
Strong memories of touch and sound came from the clubhouse. The ground-level floor in the
clubhouse was made of concrete, and naturally there was a coating of sand on busy days. The cool
temperature of the concrete and the texture of the sand on top of it made for a unique sensation on
the feet that can still be conjured up. The principal indoor memory, however, is of the Coca-Cola
machine. From what I found on the Internet, the machine that most clearly resembles the one at NSYC
is the Vendo 59. It was made from 1948-1951 and composed of a Westinghouse refrigeration unit
and Vendo mechanical works (see photos). You put ten cents into the slot, turned a metal disc until it
stopped (there was a wonderful ratchet sound), and then opened a little hatch in the cover and pulled
out your 8-ounce bottle of ice-cold coke. I saw it refilled once or twice and was impressed by the fact
that for each bottle below, there was only one spot in the metal disc that lined up with each bottle to
allow you to take your purchase.
One other aspect of the Coke machine in my memory is that it was my principal source of Coca-Cola
until I was at least ten years old. Therefore, the taste of Coke was "learned" at the yacht club, and for
whatever reason, Coke has never tasted the same from any other container (glass, aluminum or plastic,
of any other size), compared to the eight-ounce glass bottle, drunk on hot, humid days in the summer.
Childhood at North Shore Yacht Club in the 1950s
09/19/2013 2
For me, an actual ride in the boat was a fairly rare event, perhaps only once a year. In fairness to Dad,
however, this was probably more stressful for him than a race. By 1958, we three sons were still only
eleven, eight and five years old, and with Mom keeping us in check, Dad had to sail the boat by himself.
Alewives and I never got along (the Internet has plenty of information about alewives). Every year
(usually late July to early August) large numbers of the alewife population died, and the bacteria count
from their decomposition led to ear infections in "more sensitive" individuals like myself. Every year
Mom said not to go into the water, every year it was hot in the sun, every year I went into the water,
and every year I got an ear infection. The solution seems easy enough, but you try taking a kid to the
beach, and while his dad is out having a good time, you tell the kid not to go into the water.
While we're on negatives, the sun and I never got along, either. Dad's ancestry is entirely Swedish, and
Mom's is Scotch-Irish and North German (et al). As a result of an abundance of northern-ness, we were
all shortchanged in the melanin department. We didn't have sun block in those days, so we slathered
on stuff that promoted tanning in skin that couldn't tan. When I felt terrible in the evening after a
Sunday at the beach, Mom got out the cobalt blue glass jar of Noxzema. The menthol in the Noxzema
reduced the sensation that a blowtorch was aimed at my face, for a while. After that, I got a headache
from breathing the fumes, but that didn't help reduce the discomfort of the sunburn.

One year NSYC was invited to participate in a parade, either on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, that
went westward on Central Avenue from the Northwestern tracks. We went to the yacht club, hitched
the trailer to the back of the car, and went up the Park Avenue ravine drive (I always appreciated Dad's
driving skill because of the tight turns). At the gathering point, fellow NSYC members (who planned to
walk alongside the boat) helped Dad raise the mast, and then the sails, which, naturally, were allowed
to flutter loosely. As we waited, Mom told Bill and me that we should wave at the people lining the
street. This didn't make much sense to me, because I didn't think I would know any of these people
(not having seen parades on TV by this point in my life, it didn't dawn on me that I also had to smile at
them). When it was our turn to join the parade, Dad pulled smoothly into the line and all seemed well.
One or two blocks ahead, an overhead wire became visible, and it was determined that the mast was
too tall. We pulled to the side, and I watched a large part of the parade go by while the crowd got to
see how sails and a mast were lowered and then raised again on the other side of the wire. This
happened again after another block or two, and with very little of the parade still behind us, it was
decided that this wasn't going to work, so we dropped out of the parade. As I saw it, by the time we
got going again, the parade might have ended and the watchers gone home. There were lots of
opportunities to enjoy parades later on, when I played the Sousaphone in marching bands during junior
high and high school in Deerfield, and then at Northwestern as an undergraduate and graduate student,
and after that as an alumnus.
NSYC had its own Fourth of July Fireworks show during the 1950s. It was set up farther up the beach
to the north with professional supervision, and we waited until almost 9:00 pm for the sky to be dark
enough. Finally, the show began, and the appropriate oohs and ahhs were heard, punctuated
occasionally by the surprise of an aerial bomb. I found myself watching the puffs of smoke that
remained after the bright sparkling lights had done their magic, as they drifted out over the lake,
pushed by the wind. My memory says that nearly every year the amount of smoke in the air always
seemed to build in quantity, clouds formed where there had been clear blue sky a few hours before, and
by the time we got into the car to join the multitudes driving up the curves of the ravine, the raindrops
descended and the tail lights of the cars ahead were distorted by the action of the windshield wipers. impressed by the fact
that for each bottle below, there was only one spot in the metal disc that lined up with each bottle to
allow you to take your purchase.
One other aspect of the Coke machine in my memory is that it was my principal source of Coca-Cola
until I was at least ten years old. Therefore, the taste of Coke was "learned" at the yacht club, and for
whatever reason, Coke has never tasted the same from any other container (glass, aluminum or plastic,
of any other size), compared to the eight-ounce glass bottle, drunk on hot, humid days in the summer.
Childhood at North Shore Yacht Club in the 1950s
09/19/2013 2
For me, an actual ride in the boat was a fairly rare event, perhaps only once a year. In fairness to Dad,
however, this was probably more stressful for him than a race. By 1958, we three sons were still only
eleven, eight and five years old, and with Mom keeping us in check, Dad had to sail the boat by himself.
Alewives and I never got along (the Internet has plenty of information about alewives). Every year
(usually late July to early August) large numbers of the alewife population died, and the bacteria count
from their decomposition led to ear infections in "more sensitive" individuals like myself. Every year
Mom said not to go into the water, every year it was hot in the sun, every year I went into the water,
and every year I got an ear infection. The solution seems easy enough, but you try taking a kid to the
beach, and while his dad is out having a good time, you tell the kid not to go into the water.
While we're on negatives, the sun and I never got along, either. Dad's ancestry is entirely Swedish, and
Mom's is Scotch-Irish and North German (et al). As a result of an abundance of northern-ness, we were
all shortchanged in the melanin department. We didn't have sun block in those days, so we slathered
on stuff that promoted tanning in skin that couldn't tan. When I felt terrible in the evening after a
Sunday at the beach, Mom got out the cobalt blue glass jar of Noxzema. The menthol in the Noxzema
reduced the sensation that a blowtorch was aimed at my face, for a while. After that, I got a headache
from breathing the fumes, but that didn't help reduce the discomfort of the sunburn.
One year NSYC was invited to participate in a parade, either on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, that
went westward on Central Avenue from the Northwestern tracks. We went to the yacht club, hitched
the trailer to the back of the car, and went up the Park Avenue ravine drive (I always appreciated Dad's
driving skill because of the tight turns). At the gathering point, fellow NSYC members (who planned to
walk alongside the boat) helped Dad raise the mast, and then the sails, which, naturally, were allowed
to flutter loosely. As we waited, Mom told Bill and me that we should wave at the people lining the
street. This didn't make much sense to me, because I didn't think I would know any of these people
(not having seen parades on TV by this point in my life, it didn't dawn on me that I also had to smile at
them). When it was our turn to join the parade, Dad pulled smoothly into the line and all seemed well.
One or two blocks ahead, an overhead wire became visible, and it was determined that the mast was
too tall. We pulled to the side, and I watched a large part of the parade go by while the crowd got to
see how sails and a mast were lowered and then raised again on the other side of the wire. This
happened again after another block or two, and with very little of the parade still behind us, it was
decided that this wasn't going to work, so we dropped out of the parade. As I saw it, by the time we
got going again, the parade might have ended and the watchers gone home. There were lots of
opportunities to enjoy parades later on, when I played the Sousaphone in marching bands during junior
high and high school in Deerfield, and then at Northwestern as an undergraduate and graduate student,
and after that as an alumnus.
NSYC had its own Fourth of July Fireworks show during the 1950s. It was set up farther up the beach
to the north with professional supervision, and we waited until almost 9:00 pm for the sky to be dark
enough. Finally, the show began, and the appropriate oohs and ahhs were heard, punctuated
occasionally by the surprise of an aerial bomb. I found myself watching the puffs of smoke that
remained after the bright sparkling lights had done their magic, as they drifted out over the lake,
pushed by the wind. My memory says that nearly every year the amount of smoke in the air always
seemed to build in quantity, clouds formed where there had been clear blue sky a few hours before, and
by the time we got into the car to join the multitudes driving up the curves of the ravine, the raindrops
descended and the tail lights of the cars ahead were distorted by the action of the windshield wipers.

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