Childhood Memories

So I’m going in for casino orientation on Monday. The orientation is going to be held in a bingo hall attached to a cardroom.

Thinking about Bingo brought back some cool childhood memories for me.

For probably 10 or more years of my childhood, my folks had a lot at Port Susan, this camping club near Marysville out on the Tulalip reservation. The place enchanted me as a kid — it was a bunch of woods and winding roads, with teardrop-shaped lots along all of the roads. Each lot had an electrical outlet and water and sewer, so you could park your RV there and spend some time pseudo-camping.

Because it was on the reservation, it was a great place to spend the 4th of July — not only were fireworks legal to shoot off, but you could head down the road a few miles and visit “Boom City”, a collection of stands where you could buy damn near anything you wanted. There would always be a group down at the lake shooting bottle rockets out over the water.

We had a Fleetwood trailer parked on our lot — white with green stripes. There wasn’t much room for anything but a kitchenette, a small dining nook, a couch that turned into a bed for the folks, bunk beds in the back and a tiny bathroom. But really, that was all you needed. In our time there, we built our own deck (covered with astroturf!) and our own two-story shed.

Port Susan was where I learned about the fun of scooting. The roads all had a maximum speed limit of 15 mph, and some of them were pretty narrow, so a lot of folks got 50cc scooters. We had two — a red Honda Spree and a blue Suzuki Shuttle. I still have a scar on my leg from one time when I dumped the Shuttle, then burned myself on the exhaust pipe picking it back up. I rode those scooters all over — down to the tiny general store for a fifty-cent popsicle, up to the tennis courts, over to a friend’s lot, or just around and around on the winding roads. I don’t recall ever wearing a helmet. So my parents can’t complain about my love of scooting — they’re the ones who introduced me to the fun.

Our lot was in a great location, two roads away from the community centers and one road away from the lake (I tried checking Google Earth, so I could pinpoint our lot, but that area isn’t sharply defined yet). There was an unspoken rule that you could cut through other peoples’ lots if they weren’t currently staying at PS, so we could usually get to either of those places in a couple of minutes. The community centers had a couple of pools, some barbecue pits, and a couple of large buildings where they’d have Bingo every weekend. We even bought some colorful “Bingo daubers”. I also loved the lake — my dad and I would take our inflatable rafts down, row out and hang out under the guise of fishing. We did occasionally catch some fish — who knew that the bait that perch like best is cut-up bits of other perch? But we mostly went out to relax.

I can picture some things vividly in my mind — playing cribbage with my mom and brother on our astroturfed deck; taking the strike-anywhere matches around with me to see if they really did strike everywhere (cinderblocks – yes; dimpled trailer wall – yes; astroturf – no) and generally being a restrained little firebug; watching for rabbits to pop out of the myriad holes at the end of our driveway; the cool carved wood sign dad made with our last name and lot number, just like almost everyone else had at the end of their driveway. I remember sitting around a crackling fire, eating marshmallows and cheering whenever our humming blue electric bug zapper killed a big one. I can picture certain parts of the road from scooting — that one winding part that was always partly shaded with trees, that really steep hill that you had to get a fast start to get all the way up, the secret back way to the little general store.

I remember that there were little clubs within the club. There were a lot of older folks who owned lots, and among them was a group of little old ladies who liked to ride their scooters around like a tiny, sweet biker gang. Their scooters were all tarted up with flags and tassels and other gaudy crap, and they called themselves “The Fudpuckers”, which of course always made kid-me giggle.

I haven’t thought about Port Susan for a long time; remembering it, and all the fun we had there, is really nice. I’m glad it’s still around, and I’d love to go back someday.

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