After so many weeks away, it was good to be home in Teaneck, and to get back to the serious business of raising a family in the suburbs. Besides our two children (Melissa wasn’t born yet), we had also acquired a German shepherd dog, a bushy-haired cat, and a garter-snake partial to live goldfish from Woolworth’s. When we acquired a cat, it was named Yoyo, and so between the dog and the cat we now had at least one Abiyoyo.
It was a busy part of life for me. I was attending Pace University Saturday mornings, teaching during the week, and I was also active in union politics. Then there was the Paramus Cooperative Nursery School, which required parents to take an active part in the school and their children’s education. It was also the place where we made many lifelong friends. In addition to which, Linda was also involved in a women’s consciousness raising group, a group that felt itself insufficiently assertive.
Because we had found camping such a great experience, like any new converts, we wanted to proselytize and tried to convert our friends to our newfound camping faith. Our friends, Howard and Lore, decided to give it a shot on an experimental basis, a weekend camping trip at a private campground at the New Jersey shore, not far from Long Beach Island. So we packed our cars, they borrowed some of our equipment, and down to the shore we went, four adults, four children, and Abi, our dog. Yoyo was left home to frighten the bluejays.
Each family had its own tent, which we were experienced enough to erect atop a plastic ground cover, and it was fun having all the kids involved in putting up the tents. In the evening, we built a fire, and brought out the marshmallows for which the kids had previously gathered sticks. The weather was calm, the sky starry. Eventually came a late bed time, and off we went to our respective tents, Abi sleeping unattached in front of our tent. I had complete faith in Abi and knew she wouldn’t leave me. And so we slept.
We were awakened in the middle of the night by Abi’s loud barking, although we couldn’t see her. Our friends, Lore and Howard and their kids were all up, out of their tent and gesticulating. Their tent had been knocked down and seemed to have acquired a life of its own, as two shapes chased one another under the tent, and I could hear Abi barking. Something went skittering from under their collapsed tent, and Abi soon followed. From the stink of the campsite I guessed at what had happened. Abi had chased a skunk under Howard and Lore’s tent and somehow the skunk had gotten wedged between to the ground cloth and the bottom of the tent, but fortunately managed to escape the tent and Abi in the confusion.
At dawn, Howard and Lore’s family packed their car and left. They’d had enough of of the great outdoors and camping, and I believe they never repeated the experience. Afterwards, we missed our friends, but we showered and gave Abi a tomato juice bath, the magic antidote for a skunking, and went camping every summer of our lives.