Quote of the Day - Dad does get the most unusual Christmas cards from the penitentiary.
This time of year, my mailbox fills up with family Christmas and Hanukkah letters. I also get the politically correct "Seasons Greetings," which I have to admit I send out on occasion, even though I more enjoy receiving Christmas cards, since that's the holiday I celebrate. There are the ones with the beautiful pictures of snow scenes, small towns and the ubiquitous Kinkade drawings. But one type of card holds a special place for me.
As I reach the point where I've celebrated more Christmases than I would like to remember, I relish the cards I get from old friends, even if it is once a year. My father, a Congregational minister, used to rail privately at those members of his parish who came only at Christmas, but I used to think - and still do - that some is better than none.
When I was a small kid, I had the fortunate happenstance to be on Cape Cod in the summer of my twelfth year, building sand castles on the beach with my brothers and wearing my Boy Scout hooded sweatshirt.
Yes, sand castles and the summer beach is a long way from Christmas, but stick with me here.
Raycroft Beach in Dennis adjoins Massachusetts State Senator Bowers' summer cottage, a fact I was soon to learn in my twelfth year. Early in the morning Senator Bowers came over to the public beach, and asked me and my brothers if we were willing to cut the grass at his cottage for a small sum of money, which was more than acceptable to us given that we only had our $.25 allowance money in our pockets.
We went over to his cottage and got not only the keys to the garden shed with instructions to cut the grass, weed the lawn and flower beds and generally act as gardeners for the remaining weeks of the summer, but we also got a bit more. We got the key to his cottage (on the beach), along with his invitation to use it during the week while he and his family were in Boston, since they generally only came down on the weekends. Plus, we got a substantial advance for our yet-to-be-done work.
We proudly marched back several blocks to our inland cottage (actually, it belonged to my Dad's church secretary) to show our parents and tell them they could come down and use the "private home and the private beach."
If I remember correctly, my mother grabbed my ear and marched me and my brothers right back down to the Senator. She just couldn't believe he would trust us with an advance, keys to his cottage and such an open invitation. Senator Bowers assured her that all was in order, and responded to her "but, but" questions with a calm observation: he knew we were trustworthy since we were all Boy Scouts, as we readily confirmed when he first met us.
So assured, we were able to spend the rest of our vacation acting as gardeners and acting as specially invited guests of an obviously wealthy and prominent senator, who also turned out to be a lawyer. We became fast friends, especially with his near college-aged son, Larry, and got to ride to the Nantucket Yacht Club and Monomoy Island in his wooden Chris-craft boat.
It was a summer to remember.
Senator Bowers has since passed away but his son, Larry Bowers, and I still stay in touch some 40 years later. When I published How to Get Sued, I sent a copy to him since he - not surprisingly - became a lawyer in Boston, too. He's also one of the staunchest church leaders in the Old South Congregational Church.
It was his card that made my Christmas, but perhaps more so the handwritten greeting inside: "Hail to the legal writer, whom I knew back when he weeded lawns." He is a true friend.