I grew up in Delaware, spending summers with my grandparents in a little town on the Choptank River in nearby Maryland, an hour from Ocean City. My summertime treat was to spend a day at the beach with my beloved grandfather. He was a strong, hard-working, quiet man who loved the water, the salty air, and the Maryland sunrises. It’s not hard to see why he loved his life on the water, and why he loved sharing it with my brother and me.
I walked this beach, on this very sand, a thousand times as a small boy, hand-in-hand with my grandfather. I can still hear him describing the roiling, black thunder clouds, and the crashing waves brought on by angry nor’easters. I set out for an early morning walk last weekend, and found myself wondering how many of the footprints in the sand above were made by a present day grandfather and his grandson.
When Denene and I strolled along the boardwalk last weekend after we left Bouchercon, my senses came to life. The hot oil smell of Thrasher’s famous French Fries permeated the morning air, and the sounds of bells, whistles, and carnival barkers attacked us from all sides. Suddenly, I was a small boy again, back with my grandfather holding his hand as he led me to the arcades.
I felt the magical draw of my youth. One of my fondest memories of all time was pulling me toward its source. I knew then what I had to share with my wife – the best arcade game ever – Skeeball! I loved this game and I wanted to share that experience with Denene. I also recalled that I was pretty darn good at it, too. After all, I had beaten my grandfather at practically every game we’d ever played. Yes indeed, I was a Skeeball wizard back in the day.
Well, after losing several games to Denene, a rookie – actually, she was a virgin Skeeballer – I realized that my grandfather had probably let me win all those times. Of course, I told Denene that I’d let her win, too. Unfortunately, she knew better.
And then it was over, and I grew up all over again.
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The Bulletin Board
– From CNN News: U.S. police departments are streamlining patrols, reducing training and cutting back on some preventative programs as their budgets fall victim to the struggling economy.
Many police chiefs are warning deeper cuts may be coming.
– Baltimore police say the best way to reduce crime is to lock up the criminals and throw away the key! Forget rehabilitation, probation, and parole!
– According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, over one third of Atlanta’s recent police academy graduates have criminal records!
– Assaults on police officers are on the rise. Philadelphia, for example, reports a 19% increase on assaults on their officers over last year.