Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blue Lake Bloggers

My mom, it seems, comes from a blogging family. Her side of the family has produced four bloggers (besides me). Reading their entries has been fun because I still feel kind of connected to these people even though I haven't seen most of them since I was a little kid.

The last time that whole side of the family got together was in 1989. Family reunions were held in Blue Lake, Oregon, which I remember as a beautiful and nature-y retreat. They (my Grandma Vance and her three sisters and one brother and all their kids and grandkids) got together at Blue Lake every 4 years for a week of catching up. I had my first birthday there and my fifth. I was 9 years old at the last Blue Lake reunion so there are still lots of things I don't remember -- I imagine that other people have better stories of funny things that happened that I can recall -- but there are certain things that stand out in my mind as crystal clear memories.

As a little kid at a big family reunion (the 5 Talcott siblings who each had anywhere from 3 to 5 grown kids of their own, plus those kids' spouses and kids), there was no way I could keep straight exactly who all of the adults were and which of the kids and grandkids belonged to which sister or brother. But I quickly learned that if I wanted something (a cookie, a coke, a piece of cake or candy or whatever) that it was best to ask any of the moms there who were not my mom. Where my mom would be likely to say, "No, it's almost dinner time," her cousin Pam or Amy or any of the great-aunts Beth, Lois, Jean, or Barbara, could be counted on to say "Sure, here ya go!" and give a generous helping of whatever treat we desired. My brother and I worked this system with much success the entire week we were there.

I was about five years younger than the "big girls" -- Angie, Jeny, Bethany, and Briana -- and I thought they were sooooo cool. With their bangs and tight-rolled jeans and general awesomeness, I wanted to be just like them. They were pretty nice about including me in some things and I remember we all went horseback riding together. Aunt Beth was always telling me Amazingly Awesome Facts about Bethany and Briana. "Beth likes the book Little Women" (which I immediately wanted to read.) "Briana got to play Dorothy in her school's play The Wizard of Oz" (and I was promptly filled with awe and a desire to do musical theater). Bethany's blog is here. (And she is still cool. I am sure Briana is still equally cool, although I am not aware that she blogs or that she has pursued musical theatre since the days of Dorothy. I do hear that she as an adorable baby boy.) Angie and Jeny I saw more often, as they are my first cousins, so their awesomeness was already well-known to me before the Blue Lake reunion. They still had a tendency to ditch me and hang out with Bethany and Briana, but who could blame them?

I guess it was the last night of the reunion that we had a family talent show and I can remember Angie wearing this long fancy white dress (I have no idea why someone brought formal wear to Blue Lake? But I remember it being lovely. I guess someone just prepared for the talent show in advance?). So Angie wore the white dress and sang "Blue Moon" on the back deck where the talent show was. "Blue moon, you saw me standing alone..." I am sure there were other equally inspired acts, but I can't recall them. There must be a video tape somewhere...?

I (evidently showing my lack of musical talent at an early age) was given the role of providing commercials in between acts. This included a Pert Plus shampoo commercial in which my cousin Casey (he must have been about 12) reluctantly participated. I assured the audience that "If you have hair like this..." (hold up strand of Casey's short hair) "and you want hair like THIS" (toss my own hair), Pert Plus would make all the difference.

I also led the little kids in a rousing rendition of ring-around-the-rosy in which I remember no one being very cooperative although we had practiced several times previously. When I wasn't tagging along with the big girls, I was making myself Babysitter In Charge and corralling the little kids -- Brennan and Alex and Briana's little sister Casey, who were all about two years old I think. I found them absolutely adorable, like the cutest kids ever. I cried on the airplane home because I wanted to be able to babysit them all the time.

My mom's cousin Susan (her blog can be found here) was there with her two boys, Kale (his blog about teaching on a remote Alaskan island is here) and Hal (his blog about adventures student teaching in England can be found here). It has been fun to read their blogs and see what kind of people they've turned out to be because I have very little recollection of meeting them except for two particular incidents that stand out in my mind:

Hal was a little cutie when he was around 4 years old (I'm guessing?) with a blonde curls and a round belly (he is still quite the cutie, and evidently a hit with the British junior high girls). But I did NOT find him so adorable when I started looking for my missing hair clip. This was an awesome hair clip that I had begged my mom to buy for me and it was a treasured possession. It was like a banana clip, but instead of a hinge at the bottom, it had a bendy, stretchy, zig-zag shaped plastic piece to keep my short hair from falling out of it. Angie and Jeny were sporting the banana clips and I thought that I was sooooo cool with my super awesome banana clip. But I put it down on the picnic table for one second and the next thing I know, I turn around and this cute little Hal has grabbed hold of it, opened it up, has one end of it in each of his chubby little kid hands and is stre-e-e-e-etching the zig-zag plastic piece across his little round belly! Like pushing out his belly into it.

I was so pissed. My prized possession, destroyed by Hal's pudgy little belly. It was devastating. Now I would never be as cool as the big girls.

It occurs to me at this point that perhaps little Hal was innocently and unintentionally doing me a huge favor, as I had absolutely no business putting my hair in a banana clip (they really required the long perm a la Angie & Jeny to make it work and even then...). So I give him the benefit of the doubt and am sure he is a very nice young man who no longer ruins things that do not belong to him. But that is my vivid memory of little Hal Iverson. Rampant destruction of glorious '80s hair accessories.

With so many adults hanging out at our little compound at Blue Lake, it seems that it was easy to assume that someone else was keeping an eye on your kids, even if you weren't quite sure where they were. Kale and my brother are around the same age which made them 5-or-6ish at the time. My memory of Kale is the evening that he and Brandon rejoined the group after being gone for an unknown amount of time and they were completely filthy. Absolutely covered in a fine, dusty dirt from head to toe. Their skin was several shades darker than their normal color, tinted with dirt made darker by little boy sweat and even their hair was coated in dust. Their clothes -- and I believe Brandon was wearing a Mario Bros. muscle shirt, if memory serves -- were also covered in a layer of dirt and grime. When he took off his sandals, you could see the white lines of pale skin that had been protected from dirt.

No one had any idea where they had been. In fact, truth be told, they had not yet been missed. So no one was watching them when they disappeared and when they showed back up at the cabins, no one knew where they'd been, how long they'd been gone, or what they could possibly have gotten into to get themselves so freaking filthy. But it was clear that they had been enjoying themselves. I can remember my Grandma Vance laughing at how dirty they were. Of course there were pictures taken of the two of them, documenting their fun. My mom took a picture of Brandon and Kale that perfectly depicts them at the moment, in their skinny, grimy little kid glory, grinning like they can't believe they got so dirty and everyone thought it was so funny.

So those are my memories of Blue Lake -- and the smell of pine trees, and the little A-frame cabins everyone stayed in, and the adults sitting around in lawn chairs and laughing.

The next time I'm at my parents' I'm going to have to dig out the photo album from this summer and I'll scan and post some photos to illustrate Blue Lake.


  1. Hey, Brooke! Pam here. What a flood of memories your Blue Lake post triggered. I am pretty sure your folks have a DVD of the Blue Lake video from 1989. So, ask them to see it.

    I normally read your blog on my Google Reader so I don't have the ability to comment from there. But, I do want you to know how much I love your posts. You are one of the cool big girls now! Love, Pam

  2. Yeah, why don't we do that anymore? I miss staging talent shows and wearing old prom dresses. I don't miss the nature, EVERYWHERE! I have some pics from those years but they are too humiliating to post.

    You are definitely a cool chick and I would totally hang with you. For reals.

    Cousin Beth

  3. I feel a strong desire to set the record straight!
    In the 80's, the official code of "Awesomeness" specifically forbade the acceptance of the following:
    1.Any persons not wearing cutoff denims (lightly faded and with 2 holes minimum)
    2.Not wearing eyeglasses the size of a small forest creature
    3. Not having 2-different color pair of socks on each foot (crunched not folded)
    4. Those with hair not coated in at least .458" of AquaNet hairspray and raised 2.38" off of the scalp.

    Sorry Brookie! I was only obeying the rules set forth by my peers. I was a total Rule follower!

    If it is any consolation, you are totally within the "Awesomeness Code" now. Jeny & I would love to hang out with you for a weekend! :)

    Side Note #1 - I was forced into performing Blue Moon by someone, and by someone I mean MOM, who threatened to destroy my "New Kids on the Block" cassette tape for the entire vacation. So I asked myself..."Cool Girl with high mall hair,can you live without hearing "Step by Step" for an entire week? I mean what other option did I have?
    I was also told the white dress made me look like Madonna from the "Like A virgin" video.

    UGH...I still have nightmares and a therapy bill.

    Side note #2: OMG...theres a video from that weekend? Good God, I pity the poor soul that has to sit through that showing. For anyone looking to trade the video I have a New Kids on the block cassette tape and a bottle of hair spray you may be interested in.

  4. I have a tough time discerning between the memories I have from photos and the memoies I have from my own mind.

    The one thing I do remember was a giant log over a piece of water that we were forbid from crossing but did so despite its probably very real danger.

    Oddly enough I think about that log every now and again.

    Can anyone help me with this memory?

    Thanks for the great post!