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S.O.S

Survival of Summer
by Mellody Walburn

     

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Family Vacation Key Ridge Style

Growing up, I never realized just how unusual our family vacations were. It wasn’t until many years later while sharing with friends about vacations from our childhoods that I came to realize my stories were not your run of the mill ones.

 

When we went on family vacations, we took the whole neighborhood. I grew up in a little place called Key Ridge. Parents here knew it takes a village to raise a child long before Hilary Clinton did. For this reason, if you look at vacation pictures from my childhood, you will see 21 people in most of them. There were the Walburns, plus Grandma Haught, the Taylors, the Millers, and the Rollings. For a number of years, we traveled to Nags Head, N.C. None of us had a great deal of money, but together we could afford to rent a relatively nice beach house. One summer, we rented a lovely three-story home just a stone’s throw from the ocean. It was a dream house for a bunch of country kids from Ohio.

 

Each morning, we would collect our towels, umbrellas, sun-screen, books, buckets and shovels, and head for the sandy shores. I am sure those there ahead of us wondered how a quiet beach could become so crowded in such a short time. The hours raced by as we built sandcastles, collected seashells, rode the waves, and soaked up some summer sun. One particular day, we had some extra excitement. A large crab had been spotted by Ben Taylor, and he had challenged us kids to capture it for dinner. As an adult, I now wonder if this was just a plot to keep 12 kids occupied, but at the time it was a challenge we were more than ready to take upon ourselves.

 

Armed with every bucket, pot, pan, and colander we could find in the house, and to the delight of a crowd that gathered on the shore, we raced up and down the beach chasing that crustacean. Sadly, the crab was too fast for us, and we returned to our beach house tired, sandy, and hungry. We dumped our flip flops, towels, and other paraphernalia on the bottom deck and raced each other to be the first in the showers. Unbeknownst to us, a severe storm was brewing that would stir up some adventure for one of us.

 

Big Ben, as we affectionately call the head of the Taylor family, is known to be a night owl. That night, he was still up and about when the thunder began to rumble and the lightning to flash. Ben immediately thought of the beach gear outside. He hurried downstairs and out the door to collect everything before it blew off the deck. A huge gust of wind soon left our Good Samaritan standing outside a locked door in a raging Nor’easter.

 

Not wanting to awaken the whole household, Ben tried throwing our flip flops at his bedroom window hoping to wake up his wife Jenn. This wasn’t successful, so Ben began to look for other ways to get in out of the storm. Unfortunately, the local police began their patrol of our neighborhood just as Ben was working his way around our beach house. Our poor hero is not only trapped outside in the rain in his boxers, but he is dodging the police spotlight as it is shone on all the houses on their watch.

 

Knowing he had about a half hour until the police made their next loop, Ben decided to conquer his fear of heights and climb from the bottom deck to the top deck where the sliding glass door would hopefully be unlocked. Lady Luck finally smiled on Big Ben, and he made it safely to the top deck without being struck by lightning or spotted by the police. His last obstacle was to enter the house without scaring to death all of us that were sleeping inside that sliding glass door. Thankfully, the sounds of the storm covered Ben’s entrance, and we all slept on peacefully.

 

The next morning, Ben’s escapade was shared at breakfast and continues to be shared whenever we all gather together and start sharing stories from our childhoods and summer times.

 

(Mellody Walburn is the sister of Chronicle reporter Maricia Mlynek.)

If you have a S.O.S. story, send it to The Calhoun Chronicle, P.O. Box 400, Grantsville, WV 26147, or email to contact@calhounchronicle.com.

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