“Oh, I was born to wander
I was born to roam
And Mister and Mississippi
made me feel at home”
-- IRVING GORDON
Life during my drinking career (who but an alcoholic refers to drinking as a “career”--grin!) was spent partly on my own houseboat, named Thor. Three years I lived here, became a river rat (Ohio river at Cincinnati). These were some of the happiest (read: carefree!) years of my life.
I had annually to pull the 32-foot, 12-ton boat out of the river, and up a 500-foot ramp for winter--Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb. Thor sat high on steel drums and I--high on other 'stuff'--spent many a cold night in that cabin, loving the smells, darkness, loneliness...sometimes I could hear the sounds of snow falling on piled dead leaves.
One memorable mid-summer midnight a fellow boater strung out on some hallucinatory substance was shooting his guns, threatening Peeps all over our small harbor. The shanty-boat 'community' all stayed hidden in their (five) boats. Your Peep—me--walked right out there atop all six floats and challenged this crazy man. He was firing two weapons, helter-skelter, one in each hand.
Carrying nothing to defend myself except a quart of dark rum, I walked right up to him, talked him down, took away the guns and walked back to my boat to sleep. Next morning, guess who they called the 'crazy' man? Only one guess per Peep allowed!
Frequently, 2-3 times a week, I'd just set out on Thor chugging along in early morning fog until something on the river bank piqued my interest. Shallow draft allowed me to pull up on the sandy mud anywhere, anchor to a tree, maybe spend a couple days.
Those years I met, ate and drank with literally hundreds of Peeps—strangers, until we talked awhile. If you knew me, you'd realize I'm in my glory when doing that. Living on the river, most of these Peeps were like one big family. Each of these friendships were another story.
Note: Our harbor—I was one-sixth owner—was named “Friendship Harbor”. It is still there, almost fifty years later. It's marked on Ohio River Charts.
The gunslinger cast off the day after his spree, and nobody saw him after that. He left behind his 40-foot float, which space we rented and split the bucks.
It was on the river I learned the fun of taking chances, how to survive, and finally how to live well, love everything, and be kind to Peeps. The code there was “Do unto others...”
From then, my addictions began to seriously take over, run and ruin my life
Each hour of living is as a brick laid in the building of a life. And I revel yet in memories--laying those bricks. Thank you for walking with me here. PEACE!