Sunday, September 26, 2010

(From the Other Side) August 4, 1980

With an unfortunate two-and-a-half year gap between letters from Mom in the archives, I've decided to share a few letters I wrote to Mom and Dad during this period.

Instead of the quiet weekend I had been envisioning, I decide to ride up north with Dave and Lynn to attend the 5th annual Great Northern Bluegrass festival at Mole Lake, Wisconsin.  We met some other Oshkosh friends of our in a scenic little park in the center of Crandon and then proceeded to the festival grounds together.  By the time we arrived, most of the campsites inside the main fenced-off area appeared to be taken.  That observation didn't deter us from taking a closer look ourselves.  Lucky for us that we were curious.  We located the prime spot to set up our camp: directly behind the concessions, in a straight line from the speakers set up on a huge stage, and within easy walking distance to the portable johns.

At first, I began to wonder how sensible my change of mind was.  I didn't make a final decision until late Tuesday evening, a few beers into our softball victory celebration.  The previous Sunday I had been almost so sure that I'd be passing up Mole Lake this year.  I remembered last year how much Susie and I cursed the crush of the Saturday night crowd of music lovers and assorted drunken fools.  There seemed to be more fools than lovers.  I felt then that the festival was becoming too big.

Shortly after our arrival early Friday afternoon, we heard estimates of crowd size approaching 40,000.  Last year's crowd at its peak was estimated at 20,000.  If the figures are correct, the festival doubled in size in one year.  Suddenly I expected a not-so-delightful time.  What save the weekend was the group of people I camped with.  After the fiasco of attempting to find a comfortable place to watch the bands and listen to the music, we realized that the only way we could assure ourselves of a good time would be to stay in the immediate area of our tents.  The sound was just as clear and nearly as loud and we didn't have to deal with the constantly milling crowds.

We were isolated from the festival's more lurid and depressing moments: a rampaging motorcycle gang on Friday night, rapes, beatings, drug overdoses (very few in number, actually).  Considering the number and the age group of the people there, the bummer incidents were kept to a minimum.  Still, though, it's unfortunate  that such craziness can't be avoided.  One major cause:  a mind-boggling consumption of booze and drugs.  Some folks just don't know how to pace themselves.  Others just to out of control.  Most of the Mole Lake partiers (from my vantage point, anyway) were content to weave and occasionally stagger.

To cool ourselves off and also to revive ourselves for the evening's festivities, we took some time off in the late afternoon to walk to a nearby lake and swim.  That provided us with a needed break from the dust, hot sun, and bluegrass music overload.  (I can stand only so many versions of "Orange Blossom Special", a classic fiddler's showpiece.

Once Sunday afternoon rolled around, we were all somewhat hesitant to leave.  The friendly interaction of our group, rather than the opportunity to hear fifteen or twenty bluegrass bands, provided the high point of the weekend.  Next year we'll just have to find ourselves a more secluded campsite and forget the music.

Ken and Carolyn [cousin and husband] visited with us on Wednesday evening.  They left Paul behind in Green Lake so we had to settle with pictures taken of him during his first haircut -- a progression of tears to smiles.  He certainly has grown since last summer.

Their money-making idea is conducted through the Amway Corporation.  It involves selling a variety of products -- vitamins, appliances, household cleaners, cosmetics -- on a rather complicated commission basis. Ken went into great detail during his explanation, but I never paid too much attention to what he was saying.  I knew immediately it was something Barb and I would not be interesting in doing.  Out of politeness, we allowed him to deliver his spiel.  Afterwards we went to Down to Earth for pizza.  Ken used the dinner as a business expense so Barb and I ended up with a free meal.

We enjoyed the visit immensely.  Ken and Carolyn are an infectiously friendly and likable couple.  Of course I had to ask about Roland and Linda [Carolyn's brother and his wife].  Not much to relate, actually.  They are seeing a marriage counselor and appear to be working things out.

From the information that Carolyn relayed to us, it sounds as though there won't be much of a trek to Spread Eagle this summer.  Just Ford and June and family.  Barb and I haven't finalized any plans for a visit later in the month.  In order to visit with the relatives as a group, we'll have to plan a trip to Beloit or Rockford for Thanksgiving.

Last Tuesday, Barb came home with a giveaway grin on her face.  By that I mean she had some news that she couldn't keep to herself.  After much deliberation and a few too many emotional crises, she has decided to leave Down to Earth.  Dave Belongie, a good friend and owner of the Kitchen Korner health food store, offered Barb a part-time job, which will fit into Barb's schedule quite nicely when she returns to school in September.  The following day Barb comes home with the news that Down to Earth will be closing on August 16th.  The destructive effects of two inept managers have finally taken their toll.  All I can say is that I will certainly miss their pizza.  There is still the remote chance that someone will come to the rescue with the necessary financial backing once the word spread that DTE is sinking.  No one is holding his breath.  The situation at the restaurant has reached the point where money is not available to pay the employees.

Copy of first page of letter.

No comments:

Post a Comment