Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Old and The New
There was an old cement wall along the cove behind the cannery. You could sit on the wall and let your feet cool in the water or you could fish from the wall. It was almost at water level so it was not very tall. At one time there was a very old and weather beaten picnic table next to the wall that my family used for a Saturday afternoon family reunion. My fathers family were a fun but a wild bunch at times. They were Irish. They liked to drink and they liked to fight. They were a true stereotype. My father had small runabout boat with an Evinrude motor behind it. He brought the boat around, from Jeff Baldwin's old docks just around the bend from Seneca Pointe, to take a couple of his sisters out for a ride on the river. The rest of us waited on the bank by the picnic table waiting to see what would happen. Something always happened when the family got together. While they were out on the river another boat came speeding buy and hit them with the wake from his engine causing my Dad's boat to rock very hard. My one aunt could not swim and it terrified her. She raised her fist and shook it at other boat and screamed some words that I need not repeat here. Not knowing what he was getting himself into the man shook his fist and yelled back and proceeded to follow my fathers boat back to the shore. My father was a short man being only five foot seven inches. His two sisters were even shorter. So I am sure this man was not afraid to argue with this crew. But they were fighting Irish. When my Aunt Anna Mary, all five foot three of her, got out of my father's boat and stepped on the shore she was shaking with anger. The other man still wanted to argue. Aunt Mary reached down and grabbed him by his hair and tried to drag him out of his boat. It took three people to restrain her. She had a hold of his shirt and his arm when they pulled her off. Two other Aunts came down to join in the "fun" along with my Dad and two of his brothers. The poor man in the other boat luckily got his engine started and pulled away with his boat with all but his dignity still intact.
My mother also had a sister named Louise. This Aunt Louise was as different from my father's sister as possible. She worked very hard all of her life. For twenty nine years she worked on an assembly line at a shoe factory making combat boots for a government contract. She had one week of vacation each year. For many years she never traveled any where and spent most of her vacation at home. She and her cousin Mary, who also worked at the shoe factory, liked to spend some of the vacation time fishing right here where the Seneca Pointe condominiums are located today. If a black snake crawled by, she would have left the bass in the river, and fled the area along with Mary. If some boat would speed by and splash her with it's wake she would either blame herself for setting to close to the river bank, or would have just laughed and waved. She and Mary would relax by the shore and talk for hours because they knew they had to return to the factory the next week.
Today the condominiums cover the river bank behind the old Seneca Cannery. There are many families living there now and I am sure each family has it's own share of stories. They are bringing a new history to the shore line. I will probably never know their stories nor will they ever know my families stories. It doesn't really matter. I really dislike the condominiums. The block the view of the river and change the appearance of the area. They will be gone one day also and someone will have stories of grandparents and aunts who lived there to share. For me, when I return to Havre de Grace and drive down past them my mind flashes back to family and friends who played there and relaxed there. The condo's may change the view but they can't change the memories.