Years ago I remember meeting a kid from rural Missouri who knew actual things about hogs. Not just “That is a hog, somewhere in there resides bacon,” but real, useful Hog Facts about how to take care of them and such. I remember it now because I was so impressed by it then; here was somebody younger than me who, left to his own devices on a hog farm, could run the show.
As a native son of suburban Fort Lauderdale, I know little of hogs other than how, in processed form, they make fine side items at the Peter Pan Diner. As a people, we Lauderdale folk do not tend to pass livestock-related knowledge and traditions down through the generations.
However we do have our knowledge and traditions. The Petersens are George English Park boat ramp people; we are not trailer submergers.
If you own a boat but don’t live on the water, you have your boat launching park. Oh sure, you might occasionally put in somewhere else, but it just feels slightly off, like going to a different Publix. I grew up in a George English family.
And it was at George English that I learned from my dad how there are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to launching boats off trailers and hauling them back out. There are people who back the entire trailer into the water like the trailer is an Oreo and the Middle River is skim milk, and there are people who are correct.
By 1990 or so, I had learned this lesson. “I mean, look at that,” my dad would say as some dolt with a Bayliner backed his trailer all the way down the George English boat ramp and into the water like it was a medieval device for figuring out if your neighbor’s a witch. “You don’t need to do that.”
Dad prided himself on only getting as much of the trailer wet as was absolutely necessary. If he could have, I think he would have just left the trailer completely dry and attempted to Dukes of Hazzard the boat out of the water and onto it. But there were laws and my mom was watching, so he’d do the next best thing.
This month, of course, kicks off with our city’s greatest communal boating tradition, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. From there we proceed into the time of year when boating is the most pleasant way to get around Fort Lauderdale – the time of year when a trip to Shooters no longer requires a cooler filled with water to avoid sunstroke-related dehydration, and when the rivers and canals, unlike the roads, are not cluttered with New Yorkers.
When he speaks at public events such as the boat show, Mayor Jack Seiler likes to tell people that here in Fort Lauderdale, we live in paradise. Of course it doesn’t always feel that way. When I was caught in some sort of inexplicable traffic snarl at Andrews and Prospect the other week, my thoughts did not drift towards the paradisiacal.
But that’s on land. In this month, we celebrate the part of our city and lifestyle that clings most closely to Mayor Jack’s idea of paradise. This month, when those poor souls in Cape Cod and Vancouver have already put their boats away, we’re just getting ours warmed up.
This month, I’ll take my daughter down to a boat launch – George English, naturally – and point out all the interesting things we can see. She might not know farming, but she’ll know boating.
Then we will walk briskly past the people backing their boat trailers all the way into the water. They are not our people.