My second book is now in several local stores. When I read Tony Messenger’s great article about the Rocheport Cave, I knew it was time to tell my readers more about my visit to that cave long ago. That experience was one reason I titled this new book "Just Leave the Dishes." In it you’ll find only 60 words about Rocheport Cave, and they’re on page 1. The rest of my story is here. My advice is buy a copy of the July 7 Tribune, file Tony’s article with other hard-to-find local history and read on.
Seventy-one years ago I was in the 11th grade at University High School when I first saw Walter Frank "Chub" Gerard. He was handsome in his ROTC uniform.
My friend Helen rode in Chub’s old milk truck in order to get from Deer Park to U-High and back. She had to wait on Wednesdays because all of the ROTC fellows had late parade on the Francis Quadrangle in uniform with the band playing. Lots of us U-High kids watched the parade.
Helen and I were giggly girls, and she told me that she was dating this handsome guy, but when I saw Chub at Little Bonne Femme Church, he was paying no attention to Helen.
Giggly girls often do dumb things, and in February I sent Chub a comic valentine about a university student - and signed it! He responded with a flattering suggestion that we should get to known each other better.
Soon we were attending the Sunday supper meetings of the Presbyterian Student Association, a gang of happy university students. Chub invited me to go on a special event - a hike from Rocheport, down the railroad tracks, to that huge natural cave. He was hauling the food and several friends in his old canvas-sided Pontiac truck. We’d hike four miles, explore, cook supper over a bonfire, sing and hike back to Rocheport by moonlight. That would be great fun.
On Sunday night, the rain had stopped and it was drizzling, but not a lot. No one would back out, so we divided the grocery bags of food and began the hike. There was no moon to light our way, and it was difficult to match one’s stride to the spacing of railroad ties.
This long, wet hike would be something to put in our diaries! Paper bags tore when wet, and we put hot dogs and raw bacon in our pockets, happy that the bread was in dry wrap, although squashed. We ate cookies as we walked.
This was actually fun, but four miles of it got to us - we heard our wet shoes "squish, squish" with each step and just laughed. We called out to hikers behind us when we saw the glow and smelled the smoke of our campfire, started by an advanced party of fellows.
They were in the cave exploring; we got food out of our pockets, spread wet shoes and socks on rocks close to the fire, opened thermos jugs of coffee and hot chocolate, stacked dishes, knives and forks on a "serving rock" and were beginning to be warm.
Suddenly the fellows came out of the cave bellowing, "Get out now! A wall of water! It could wash us all away!" We grabbed our wet shoes and ran, leaving socks, jackets, food, thermos jugs, hats, everything! Yes, we just left the dishes!
The rain stopped, a full moon came out bright and we sang our way four miles back to the vehicles at Rocheport.
Many things in my life were more important than to "do the dishes!"