First Things First

by kfrego

My first overnight trip to a camp with my dad happened around five years old. The occasion was to visit an elderly friend of my fathers family who had a camp on the St. Lawrence River near Massena NY. The site is now underneath the St. Lawrence Seaway. I associate the name of Grady with the man. The one room camp was constructed of stone and mortar close to the river.  A single coleman lantern provided light.

Dinner and dishes were done, the wood stove was cracklin’ away, and dad and Grady talked well into the night. The air along the river was damp and carried a chill after dark. Going to bed was my first experience with a bunk bed. My clothes were hung exactly like the adults and we climbed into bed as the lantern sputtered into darkness. The murmuring of the river mixed with the small splashes of running water provided the perfect background noise for sleeping.

Up at daybreak, the cabin was half dark and cold from the damp river air. We didn’t waste any time getting dressed, but the adults were way ahead of me. My dad was firing up the stove and Grady was pumping up the lantern. Grady asked my dad “Art, didn’t you ever teach him how to get dressed?”  Before dad could reply he said in a fatherly way “Son, when you get up in the morning the first thing you do is put on your socks. You don’t wear them to bed cause they’ll be sweaty and get cold when your feet hit the floor. Don’t ever walk barefoot on cold floors. It’s bad for your feet.

My first camp adventure started a lifelong habit. You will rarely, if ever, see me without my socks on. Now lets hope his name was really Grady.