Tuesday Time Machine: Mischief makers

February 3, 2009


Wendy and me, we go way back.

We were “lake friends” for as long as I can remember… our families have known each other for decades. She’s several years younger than me, but we always shared a sort of kindred spirit. Which really means that we enjoyed getting into mischief together.

My family has always spent vacation time up at Conneaut Lake, usually over July 4th, staying with family friends. Then, in 1984, my parents were able to buy a cottage in the same neighborhood as our friends up there. And, WHAM! I suddenly got to spend a LOT more time at the lake during the summers. It was fabulous.

That first summer after we got the cottage, my first order of business was to learn how to water ski. Once I picked up that skill, Wendy and I were ready to make trouble.

To this day I’m not certain why our parents agreed to let us engage in such antics… but the first thing we worked on once I knew how to slalom ski was, we would both ski at the same time behind the boat, me on a slightly longer line, and then we would cross back and forth. Wendy would stay low and I’d cross the wake and lift the tow line up over her as I passed to the other side.

I’d lift that tow rope up, you know, so as not to decapitate her.

We’d go up and down the lake practicing this maneuver because… because… perhaps we aspired to put on a show someday? Who can say? But we had fun. We were so determined to have this sort of fun that we would get up at 6:30 or 7am on summer mornings when we had no other reason to be awake, just so we coud get the smoothest water.

Also, did you know that in the autumn, when it’s very chilly in northwestern Pennsylvania, that you can still go water skiing as long as you have a boat and skis? You would think there would be some sort of law against it. But no, no there is not. I think our record was skiing in 50º weather in October. The lake water is actually warmer than the air then. I know because I would sometimes fall deliberately, just to test it.

So anyway, we carried on with the crazy skiing for a couple summers at least… learning how to do deep water starts without crashing into each other on the way up, learning how to share the same side of the wake when the boat made a sharp turn, learning how to signal each other to do different things. We had a good thing going.

And then the day came. I don’t even remember it really happening. But apparently, I… just once… I kind of… well not deliberately, mind you… but I kind of hooked Wendy’s neck a little bit with the rope as I was crossing over.

Oh, she was fine. We were fine. I didn’t totally get her tied up or anything. Somehow I got to the other side, and like I said, I really didn’t know anything had gone wrong.

But her mom saw it (hi Kathy!).  And that was it.

Party over.

Everyone out of the pool!

After that, we still skiied, but I don’t think we ever did it together again. Instead, Wendy and I went on to make other mischief… Like taking the sailboat out to the middle of the lake, turning it over turtle style, and then practicing getting the boat righted in deep water.

[Well, we had to do something to keep ourselves occupied…]

Here’s to you Wendy! I hope you get to read this sometime, and have a nice chuckle remembering our crazy lake days.




  1. Note to self: Do NOT accept invitations to water-ski with Laura. 🙂

  2. Great memory, Laura. But…… as I remember, I was driving the boat, just as you said. I think that you fell right behind Wendy as you crossed behind her! I saw the rope snap and fly past Wendy’s head and I thought it was going to wrap around her neck! That would have been bad! Yep, you were right — why do parents let their kids do such things? It was fun, wasn’t it? Luckily, Wendy still has a good head on her shoulders! Thanks for writing this. I loved it!

  3. Laura, Thanks for sharing this. As a kindred spirit in watersports, I completely relate to your youthful enthusiasm and passion for fun. We did similar stunts, and always searched for challenges and new ways to have fun.

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