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Captain Bob and the Hippo-Gator

Captain Bob and the Hippo-Gator

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Published by Sal Page
I bought the hippo-gator back without knowing it was for sale.
I bought the hippo-gator back without knowing it was for sale.

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Published by: Sal Page on May 25, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/19/2013

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Captain Bob and the Hippo-gator
Captain Bob and I were wed in April of 1983, having known each other for a whole month.I met his entire family within a month of either side of our wedding. He met the bulk ofmy family in one fell swoop. In July 1983 and every year thereafter until Bob went tothe Great Yacht Club in the sky, he accompanied me on my yearly pilgrimage to theFinnish Riviera on the Upper Peninsula shore of Lake Michigan, fourteen miles west ofthe Mackinac Bridge on US-2. The two lane, very-busy-in-the-summer highway runsfrom the Soo Locks at the east end of the U.P. to the Wisconsin border on the west end.The beach in front of the Dune Shores Resort, depicted in the above watercolor whichBob painted in 1986, is taken over for one week at the end of July by the Koivuniemi clan,my mother's family. As of this year, 2012, it's been going on for fifty-eight years, andit spans five generations. The number in attendance ranges from 70 plus to over 100.They come from Alaska, California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, New York, state and city,and all points in between. They are all Finns, or married to Finns, or non-Finn relativesand/or close friends of Finns. At the fiftieth reunion, our Finnish cousin Sirpa broughta whole entourage of cousins, young and old, all the way from Finland. They came bearinggifts, blue and white t-shirts with a logo designed in honor of the 50
th
reunion; one foreach person in attendance. That year it was 109.
 
 Every year that Captain Bob was in attendance, he found an art project to keep himselfoccupied. In 1986, it was the above watercolor, which hangs in my living room and hasbeen borrowed for prints to be made and framed by several of my elder-cousins. Bobwas on his way to the beach one day when the umbrellas caught his eye. He retrieved histool box of art supplies and a sketch pad and planted himself on a little stool at the
water’s edge. Wh
ile Captain Bob was sketching the scene, some of the newestgeneration of sand urchins
would come by and say, “
Where am I? Am I in it Captain
Bob?” His response was one of two: “No, but for five bucks I’ll add you.” or, myfavorite, “No, you were in the water.”
Even with its impressionistic quality, we elders
can name everyone in the painting. It’s one of my
most treasured possessions.In 1989, the Captain brought a set of chisels which I had given him for Christmas.Suffice it to say that being a non-blood newbie, he was looking for something to carve sohe could hang around the edge of the beach scene and venture inside the umbrellaperimeter only on rare occasion.Now you have to understandthat 1989 was the Captain'sthird year at the FinnishRiviera, and for a man who hadtraveled the world, a beach on ahighway that goes west fromthe Mackinac Bridge toWisconsin was never on hisbucket list, but he loved thewhole idea of it. In 1989 hisproject was a great, weatheredand dried out driftwood logthat had rolled up onto thebeach some years before.As the Captain worked on the log, it transform itself into two creatures. At one end, itmorphed into a hippopotamus. The way the log had weathered, it was a natural. TheCaptain only had to add two big hippo teeth. On the other end an alligator popped out.The saddest part about this project is that it no longer exists. At the end of the week,we loaded it into our pick-em-up truck to take it home so Bob could finish it, includingputting legs on it
. That never happened, and when we moved, we didn’t tell the landlordwe’d be back to get it, and he had it hauled away to whe
rever hippo-gators go. In thiscase, since it was never finished, I place it somewhere in hippo-gator purgatory.
 
 Captain Bob honored the memory of his creation with a drawing of its finished look andintended use which I kept in a portfolio of his sketches.Anyone who knows Captain Bob would be able to tell you that this drawing was createdwell after dark in his studio, fortified by some Russian coffee. The giveaway is thesecond paragraph of description where his spelling gets farther afield from Web
ster’sUnabridged. However, I do believe that the “Credit Cards Excepted” was intentional.
Cash and carry would have been the only option
and the price would have varied frombuyer to buyer.POSTSCRIPT: I have this drawing hanging in my little cottage, but it took a rathercircuitous route to get
there. One of the Captain’s “offices” was a place in Petoskey
called the Side Door Saloon. He had a designated stool there where he would regalethose at the bar with tales of his adventures. Bill Maille, the then owner, sponsored amini-golf competition. As a part of the festivities, there was a silent auction. One ofthe items to bid on was a plain brown paper bag with seemingly nothing in it. Afterwinning the golf tournament
(I’m a jock),
I began perusing the bid items. Out ofcuriosity I put a bid of $1.00 on the empty bag. The bidding amount went up rapidly onthat bag. By the time I finally won it, I had bid $35.00. When I opened the bag, there
was a slip of paper that said, “Please retrieve your prize from the owner.”
 

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Sal Page added this note
Heading for the Finnish Riviera and hippo-gator country on Friday. 60 year family tradition.
Sal Page added this note
Another tale from the Finnish Riviera, which celebrates its 60th year less than a month from now.
Sal Page added this note
A tale from the Finnish Riviera
1 thousand reads
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Rose added this note
Wonderful story!
Sal Page added this note
Just got home from the 59th Finnish Riviera where the hippo-gator was created. 91 attended this year. A whole week on a Lake Michigan beach. 20 or 30 umbrellas and canopies, several kayaks, many beach toys and games and even a jet ski. The 60th next year will be big.
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