Friday, July 3, 2009

Yankee Doodle Day

You can call it the 4th of July or Independence Day, and technically you are correct. But to me and a select group of Connecticotians, it will always be Yankee Doodle Day.

Yankee Doodle Day was a big deal. The whole club was abuzz during the late days of June, anticipating the fun and speculating about the possibilities.

On the big day, we’d revel in relays and round robins, earning various colorful ribbons that mom would affix to her wee tennis dress. It was always crowded, always raucous, always a blast.

There were also wild diving exhibitions and extreme events. As kids we thought the coaches had been saving their most compelling athleticism for this special day. Now I suspect that they were just stinking drunk and temporarily liberated from the rules. How else would anyone allow a 'Helen Keller dive' or a greased watermelon toss in 12 feet of water? I'm sure everyone has enjoyed a regular watermelon toss in the diving pool, but to coat the thing with grease? Come on! I vividly remember Dave Holtz scrambling to the ladder after catching one with his face, blood pouring from his mouth and nose. Good times.

At some point in the afternoon, we’d be directed to leave the pool and make ourselves presentable before heading up to the clubhouse. Some people pretended to think they were too cool for anything but the pool, but everyone went along nonetheless. We’d trade the scent of coppertone for breck, both with heavy undertones of chlorine. Our long hair dripped down the back of our red, white, or blue halter tops. We clicked and clacked up the hill in our Dr. Scholl’s, stomachs rumbling for whatever delights would be revealed in the gleaming row of covered chafing dishes. All talk turned to the one topic that was at the forefront of everyone’s mind: The Big Surprise!

A man named Moose ran the show, and as my sister Julie recalls: “We'd get in a long line on the clubhouse porch, and he would ‘interview’ each of us with his microphone. I guess he asked us about The Big Surprise!, but it was the thrill of the microphone that I remember. It was such a treat to get to eat in the clubhouse, too.”

Julie also remembers that one year The Big Surprise! was some Disney character arriving in a helicopter, another year parachuters landed just outside the clubhouse (someone must have had a connection at the municipal airport). These were exciting, wholesome good times!

It seems to me that as we little ones crept toward our teenage years, The Big Surprise! started to take a turn for the gritty. Ann says it got “lame”, but one year The Big Surprise! involved Dave Holtz riding his motorcycle right off of the diving board into those 12 feet of water, and that must have sparked a fire inside of a group of ladies who graced the turf at the shallow end, one of whom was the mother of two of your three favorite bloggers. These ladies put their frosted heads together over martinis at the bridge table one day and hatched a genius plan.

Later that year, The Big Surprise! kicked off with the roar of a fleet of motorcycles, each carrying one golf club mom who had transformed herself into a T-Bird in full regalia, and stunned the rapt crowd with a raunchy rendition of Grease Lightening.

I don’t know if Moose ever recovered.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, how I love this, Jacquie. And how I loved Mom and her girlfriends doing Greased Lightning, although Julie was embarrassed (much as she embarrassed her mini-Julie, Colleenie-girl, by doing the Funky Chicken on roller skates in Col's formative pre-teen years.

And you'll be happy to know, if you need the Greased Lightning dance done, I still know all the moves.


Mom C. said...

As do I Ellie, and I still have the video, which is hilarious. Great post Jacquie, Happpy Yankee Doodle Day y'all. love mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Well that's just something I have to see, Ellie!

I love your posts about the club, Jacquie. Someday, I swear, I'm going to get myself into that club.

My favorite image evoked from this post is your mom in her wee tennis dress with tens of ribbons pinned to her, because with six amazing daughters, she must have been awash in ribbons.


Lola said...

Such fantastic memories. Have a great Yankee Doodle Day, ladies!!

Tami said...

This was so fabulous!! I want that Greased Lightening tape!
...and I feel compelled to add to the memories:
*Dave Prindeville Hotz (he was a WASP from Greenwich) also rode a bike off the 3 meter while lit on fire and tossed it away before he and it hit the water.
* The greasing was not limited to watermelons as lubing up before a ruthless Sharks and Minnows game was a key, if underhanded, tactic.
*Remember the "grubbie" contests always won by Mike Rodenbush...the same Mike Rodenbush whose head derailed Julie's fall off the high board ladder.
* Moose is Dee Dee Daniels Pramer's father and he handed off his Uncle Sam garb to Johnny Piro a few years after the club foolishly moved Yankee Doodle Day to poolside. It's never been the same since since no one gets dressed up and parades across the porch.
*Mary Beth beat me in the poster contest when we were 10 or 11: the subject was pollution and her smokestacks were always better than mine.
*Goldfish toss into the pool - they never died in the chlorine but didn't live very long once they came home. That went by the boards with the new pool filters which hated fish.
THE BIG SURPRISE! Such a huge deal until the year the surprise was a marching band coming across the golf course....then it was lame as Ann said. But, when my daughter Megan was about 4, they did bring back the costumed characters in the form of Power Rangers. She had been afraid of costumed characters prior to but could see her Uncle Mark through the mesh eyes ...yes, Mark, Judd, Ted Coyne and others were actually roped into being the big surprise one year....good guys.

Sadly, Yankee Doodle Day has gone totally PC (with the exception of the portable water slide) and we oldsters sit around drinking and telling stories about the Glory Days (thanks Bruce"

Keep Moose (age 86 or 87) in your thoughts ... he's been in and out of the hospital this summer (in now) and he was so critical to our wonderful memories.