September 14, 2009

Jack Tar, 1960

Jack Tar

July 02, 2008 08:32 PM EDT

I drifted back almost a half century today.
I was putting a coat of bottom paint on my newest old boat when it happened.
I'd opened the gallon of Jack Tar boat paint, that I first had shaken, then stirred, and found a sacrificial old brush to use, then begun.
The day was hot and sweaty, but the humidity wasn't too bad and I was able to paint uninterrupted for quite awhile. 
As I worked my way from one end to the other, working the olive drab bottom paint into the dimpled aluminum and over the goofy mauve palm tree branch camo that some previous owner had decided was needed on the BOTTOM of the boat(???), I flashed back to being six or seven years old and the first boat I ever painted.
It was another bright Florida day about 1960, this time down by 'Whiskey Creek' just a few doors away from our home on the water. My best buddy 'Scoop' and I had decided his uncle 'Ronnie' was just too busy, (the word Granny would have used might have been "shiffless"), to paint his boat.
I mean after all, the paint and brush had been laying on top of the boat for over a week and nothing happened.  The boat was upside down, had been wire brushed, was clean and dry, so…
WE decided to DO IT!
A screwdriver fetched from my house soon had the paint open, and we were careful to make sure the brush was fanned clean of any dirt and we brushed off the bottom of the boat before we started.
Like I said, we were maybe six or seven years old..
Painting away happily, careful not to get any on our clothes so our Mom's, (in Scoops case his Dad), wouldn't yell at us, it took us most of the afternoon sharing one brush back and forth.
Job done we went back to Scoops house for whatever we could get Leon his dad's houseboy (the first black man I ever met) to dig us out of the fridge, and felt pretty darn proud of our little feller selves…
Ronnie came home from work a couple hours later.
Ronnie, at times would "kidsit" for me on the weekends, I put it that way because I CERTAINLY wasn't a BABY, and we would end up at the bar at the North Turn of the Daytona Beach raceway having lunch, or just sitting looking out over the ocean. Scoop was his only brother's, (then) only boy and we all knew each other pretty well.
Ronnie found us and sat looking at us for awhile not saying anything.
Finally he laughed his funny laugh and said in his North Carolina drawl "boys, I 'preciate the help, really I do, but I guess you young'uns didn't know,…"  a moment stretched here…. "that you have to STIR paint before you use it".
I had thought it was kinda thin.
So it went, so it goes, tomorrow I'll add a second coat.

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