I now know, that due to Bob's fear of being tracked by the Fed's he would not get a job in Florida. Carol went to work as a waitress at the local Howard Johnson's. That meant Bob was in charge of child care. My grandparents were persuaded to by a Blazer for the family. Bob fashioned plywood levels behind the seat that allowed him to store a large tool box and large chains for towing. I remember Bob begining each morning by taking a shammy to the truck to dry the dew from the previous night. If I had any doubt of this memory it was confirmed 25 years later whena visit to my Grandparents Brooks and Uncle Rick in Florida where both my grandfather and my Uncle began thier day by wiping down thier cars to remove the dew. No doubt it was something always practised by the Brooks men.
Bob made a living towing tourist off the beach. In Tampa you could drive your car right down to the beach. This is great unless you driveinto the soft sand where you quickly get stuck. Bob would cruise up and down the beach looking for these trapped tourist. He would charge $50 a tow, fifty bucks! In 1973 that was a king's ransom, but if you could afford to vacation in florida I guess you could afford that kind of fee. While we waited for victims Chelsea and I were in charge of crabbing. Each of us would be given a string with a very ripe piece of chicken tied to the end. By ripe I mean, the smellier the better. This chicken was obtained by Carol at the HoJo's, so zero investment. When you felt a tug onthe string we would pull in the crab. Crabs don't like to loose so they latch on to the chicken and come ashore. Then you drob it in the bucket and through back the chicken. This would go on all day long. By the end of the day we would have a dozen or more crabs and Bob would have money in his pocket.
Carol must have worked breakfast shifts because she was usally home when we got home. The crabs were boiled and served as the meat in most meals. Carol made crab tacos, crab meatloaf, crab spegetti, crab patties and crab sloppy joes. I, at the age of 3, could pick a crab as effeciently as the ladies I would see years later working in the bowels of the seafood resturant picking crabs for the hungry Ocean City crowd. To this day I love crab meat but unless it is in a cream sauce or ideally, plain with some melted butter I will pass. We settled into a nice ruetine of beach going and crabbing. Then it was anounced that I would be taking swimming lessons.
Florida did not believe that kids should not know how to swim so swim schools were held in the summers. I would walk with the neighbor girl to the elementary up the street where we were bused to a public pool. To me there where hundreds of kids there. The first couple days I was instructed in the doggie paddle in the kidde pool. Then I was invited to go to the big pool for "real" swimming. I remember teenage girls crowding around me telling me how cute I was and offering to comb my long blond hair. I remember being terrified when I discovered how deep the pool was but quickly getting over it as I became a confident swimmer. Each day I would return homeand 'teach' Chelsea what I learned in the neighbors above ground pool.
Florida was where I fell off the big slide. We went to a local park and there was one of those HUGE metal slides. You remember the ones, metal ladder that went up 10-15 feet and a super slick, super hot slide that usually landed you in a worn away hole of sand, mud and water. Well, being 3, I was determined that I could handle that slide. I remember climbing the ladder, I remember negotiating the terrifying transition from climbing to sitting, I remember sliding but somewhere something went wrong. As I began this story I was pretty sure I fell off the slide, I was even thinking that must have be when I developed my fear of hieghts, but as I write, I realize I did slide down successfully but it was once I got to the bottom that when things went horribly wrong. I was so excited to go again I jumped up and ran. Making a quick u-turn, I slammed into the pipe that supported the slide. When I say slammed, I mean slammed. I knocked myself unconscience. I woke up with a group of moms and kids looking down on me. I had a huge goose egg on my forehead. And I knew Carol was worried but I am not sure what she was more worried about me and my possible concusion or what Bob was going to say when she came home with me all bruised up. I probably did have a concusion because I am sure that a threw up several times after arriving home and it was a long time before I would try oneof those slides again.