I hated water skiing with Uncle Ralph. He was Aunt Alida’s second husband and they lived in a ranch house perched on the edge of a quarry lake.
What’s a quarry lake? Basically a pit filled with water. The house was kind of a normal house on top of a steep driveway as you got near the edge of the crater. The downstairs was a game room with a Pool Table and a genuine One Armed Bandit that paid out real money and was totally illegal as Uncle Ralph would proudly boast.
And a rack of water skis and pile of life vests and a changing room and laundry so you could wash your bathing suit before you got home.
When you stepped on the patio what immediately attracted your attention were the pike and walleye heads nailed to the trees while you clunked down the steep terraces toward the dock.
It was a funny kind of lake. Three feet deep for about thirty feet out. Then a watery plunge. The dock was set up so you could step off the side and play around or dive straight into hell.
As a two ski skier I was sneered at as worthless and weak- real men (and women) slalom. Uncle Ralph delighted in throwing me at rocks and docks and generally jerking me around. He was a mean boat driver, I’m not kidding. Last time my dad skied he skied with Ralph and dad could slalom and went down hard.
Still, it had its good points. After you had suffered enough you could climb up and play pool with cousins you didn’t know and can’t remember; and later, when Uncle Ralph had driven everyone into a cliff, he’d give you a cup of quarters and let you play slots ’til you lost them all. Then it would be about dinner time.
If you brought your own money you could play nickle, dime, quarter with Uncle Ralph and all the other older relatives on the big felt pool table. It was an odd night I didn’t walk away $4 or $5 dollars richer, but they were my relatives and I didn’t see them that often and I am a very good poker player.