Evan the Man, one of the earliest volunteer Boat Patrolmen, was an integral part of my teen summer years where everything centered around the lake upon which we lived as summer residents.
Most of the other lake front dwellers were also summer residents. We were generational. Third generation. My relationships with my neighbors and my summer friends extend back to our grandparents.
There was an old lady up here who hated my parents. I bumped into her a few years ago. She was 94.
"I knew your grandparents," she let me know. She went into detail. "Your grandmother was such an elegant lady. And your cousin, Sam. And your uncle and his wife and her kids."
Amazed, I said, "Gee, you're the only one who knows my entire family, almost all deceased. It would've been nice if you even liked us."
While a beautiful lake, from June to September it's pretty much dangerous. You risk life and limb should you even step your toe inside those waters during the warm months. Except for Saturdays. Two boat rental agencies, illegal of course and still in existence, rented mostly to Hasidim. Still do.
Hasidim, the fundamentalists of Judaism (or what they practice and call Judaism), either are fucking stupid or arrogant or both - I'm talking about when it pertains to boat rentals. For nearly 60 years I experienced firsthand who they are the moment they step foot in any kind of rental boat whether a motorboat, pontoon, rowboat or jet ski. Yes, jet ski. That's a sight which most people will never forget.
There are two real easy laws of the lake: do NOT drive within 100 feet from shore and do NOT hit other boats, swimmers, water-skiers, jet skis, rowers and people sitting on their docks.
Although they perfected memorizing the Talmud, those two laws of the lake continually defy recollection.
Added to the mix are the summer people who want to use their boats, waterskiers, jet skiers, the free access to the lake from boaters who come as far as Hawaii, dedicated fishermen and it's a fucking Wild Wild West out here.
Nary a day went by, except for Saturdays when everyone outside of the Hasidic community took advantage of the Sabbath to go out on the lake, when we had to get Evan the Man here for a situation.
It was the usual. People stuck in 2" of water in front of our house. We had boulders in the shallow portion back then and the grinding noise of propellers striking them serenaded us as the cacophony from the boat rental agencies surrounding us.
All day long every day from June to September since the day I was born, the same shrill woman's voice shrieked on a loudspeaker, "Use the reverse. No, that's forward. Reverse! Come in slow. NO SLOW!"
I had to shorten my dock from 80 feet from shore to 20 feet where the water is up to my calves. Even so, in 2" of water, Hasidim smash into my dock, into the rock wall and one drove a boat up on shore, climbing the 5' high rock wall. Now, that's fucking determination.
Kinda makes you wish you were here, right? Sounds rather idyllic?
People hate visiting me from June to September. It scares the shit outta them. My girlfriend said this past summer, "What happened to your buoys?" Then she looked around and saw none of my neighbors had buoys. Once upon a time, we had buoys as a line of demarcation to mark off the 100' from shore.
"Well, with new regulations, they now cost $300 a pop. The boat renters find them good targets. We can't afford $900 a year to replace them. It doesn't deter the boat renters, it makes them even more determined to hit us, like waving a red flag at a bull."
Which is true. For that day, she watched at least 18 rental boats hit my dock.
"WTF?" she screamed 18 times.
"Do you wanna go in the lake?" I asked.
"Are you fucking insane?" she yelled. "They'll hit me."
"That's the name of the game," I informed her.
So, while I pay the price in property taxes to have lakefront access, I can't use it when I want to, from June to September.
Which is why the community created a volunteer Boat Patrol fifty years ago.
The origins are fuzzy with me, subject to people's opinions and selective memory. All I remember is one volunteer guy, Evan the Man, five years my senior. He floated all day long in the Patrol Boat until there was a near miss.
He was the coolest guy on the lake. He wore the Boat Patrol hat, he had a siren and he commanded law and order from the summer people intent on murdering each other with motorboats.
He was also our pot dealer and sold pot direct from the Boat Patrol motorboat.
This is what happens when you live in a summer resort community.
After Evan the Man stopped his volunteer work as Boat Patrol, the town retained another man who I adored, Harold. He had a gun which I begged him to use on the boat renters. Most importantly, the tickets he gave were legal and enforceable.
Yet, that didn't deter the summer boat renters. Hell, they rarely paid those tickets because their identification, for the most part, wasn't legal. There was no way they could be found to pay those fines. When Harold passed away, the town put into place two constables paid from our taxes who were quite efficient in giving out tickets and making arrests. Of us.
They learned rather fast that the only people who will pay any fines are the landowners. We're sitting ducks all right. Those momzers targeted us, never the boat renters.
They tried to give me a $250 ticket for not placing a sticker on my 1947 17' Chris Craft, inherited from my father. A collectible wooden boat exempt from this law. The first time they came over to the dock, I said, "How about reading up on collectible wooden boats? Learn the law."
"You must put a sticker on it."
"No, it's wood. The adhesive will rot the wood away. Let's think about this for a moment. Considering I've the ONLY fucking wooden antique boat on the lake, should I break any laws, you know where to find me. It's not as if I have fake ID or live in Hawaii."
Two years ago, I took a ride in the boat off season, the perfect three days to use a boat without incident. Because of the boat's rarity, it's another red flag to boat renters. So, I rarely drive it from June to September. Meaning, I use it in May and October in those fleeting warm days. Once, I sat down and counted the days I used my boat. 7 days a year. Nice.
The moment I left the dock, the boat patrol sped after me, alarms blaring away. A rental cop, Nimrod screamed, "Stop the boat. Turn off the engine."
I yelled back, "This is an antique boat. If I turn off the engine, it won't go back on. You can't turn engines on and off at random with these old boats." Before I go out in the boat, I have to warm the engine upwards to fifteen minutes. After I check the oil and the lines. Antique boats are not for the faint of heart.
"Turn off the engine otherwise we'll arrest you."
I turned off the engine. "Great," I yelled back. "Now you assholes have to tow me back."
"You got towing lines?"
"Nope. That's because I'm smart enough NOT to turn off the engine while I drive the boat."
"We'll call a boat rental agency to tow you back."
"You better call them now." They did.
"Why don't you have a sticker on your boat?"
"I see you guys didn't study up since last year. I don't have to. And now I need to be towed."
The other cop sat down. He knew the score. Incensed, Nimrod screamed, "We're going to ticket you!"
"FOR WHAT?" I yelled when the boat rental agency pulled up alongside me, tossing lines.
While I was towed, Nimrod yelled back, "You don't have registration."
"Are you just plain stupid? I've the numbers on the hull."
Meanwhile, out of nowhere five boat renters zoomed by. Of course 30' from shore.
"Fuck you," I said. "Stop harassing me and go after THEM!"
They ignored the boat renters. Instead, they followed me, towed by the boat rental agency to my dock where I tied up. I walked up to my house and he yelled, "I'm gonna arrest you!"
"For what? For your stupidity and ignorance?" You can tell my patience evaporated a long time ago. Like thirty years ago. A woman can take only so much.
Out of his mind, he grabbed the walkie-talkie and called Ricky Radar, the town's beloved constable. Ricky Radar was most known for nabbing speeders and single-handedly adding a lot of money to the town's coffers.
He shrieked into the walkie talkie, "Come over here! I need to arrest someone."
I heard, "Who?" but the sound of the boat renters' engines drowned out what Ricky Radar had to say. I knew it was good for Nimrod turned all shades of red. Finally, he got off the walkie-talkie and said, "We're not going to arrest you. Just bring your printed registration card every time you go out on the boat."
Meanwhile, another rental boat zoomed by 20' from shore, right between the boat patrol and the dock, scraping off 2' of pressure-treated wood.
"I understand," I said. "Because it's so hard to tell my boat from all the other ones out on the lake. Especially someone who knows the laws of the lake. Yep."
It's wonderful to live by a lake, especially this one in the summertime. I get to sit on shore sweltering in the heat to watch tons of people who don't pay property taxes enjoy the lake at its utmost. As well as smashing into my dock repeatedly. The past summer, I broke down and went to the Jersey Shore for a swim.
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