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That’s Gen O’Shea, my mom, giving me a briefing on how to spot poisonous snakes and trip wires to Claymores on the forest floor. The Sunken Forest had a mysterious reputation, it was filled with bogs, skeletons, goblins (after dark) and word was that a “hermit” lived in the forest, a wicked little old man with a nasty temperament. The forest trails (there were no boardwalks in those days) were only to be trod in daylight and then only in groups for safety’s sake. We had heard of only a few who had made the trip and returned to tell their tales. Right behind my mother’s left had you’ll note a shed in the background pinned up next to that house (the O’Shea abode), where Billy Ervin kept his gas tanks and boating supplies. The first smell of a summer day in our house was a morning whiff of gasoline, I rather liked it actually.
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Load em up
That’s Billy Ervin’s red skiff on the beach, Billy being the counselor of our troupe, provided the mode of transit to the forest. Uncle Pete in a white shirt is near the stern reviewing a military style checklist, me in front of him with the oilskin on and Alfie Lapp, wearing the ubiquitous green Lapp family T-shirt color (Mrs. Lapp used to dye them by the gross for her clan), is next to the hull. Lurking somewhere outside the gaze of Uncle Pete was Danny Weinlandt and (I seem to recall) Allen Aherne. Uncle Pete, you see, was not meant to make the trip. Instead Billy, the fine son of two of Saltaire’s leading citizens, Tom and Norma, was entrusted with our care. The plot thickens.