During one of their diving trips up North my parents found something that still makes me smile to think about. The Madeira wreck that I wrote about here had been worked for salvage in the late 1950's and early '60s. The salvagers weren't really interested in the hull per se but rather in some of the more valuable deck machinery and winches and what not. The salvagers used enormous pontoon floats which were buoyed by what were essentially big rubber bags.
My dad found one of those stray floats washed up on shore. It's hard to describe it exactly other than as a big oblate-shaped rubber bag. Now as a five or six year old kid, everything seemed bigger than it actually was but I suppose it must have been about a body length in diameter, maybe four or five feet. But as I said, it wasn't exactly circular; it was longer and wider than it was high. Imagine an enormous jelly donut only black. It had no dangerous buckles or straps. It was shiny black and it smelled like rubber. I can still smell it-like the rubber of a bike inner tube. It could be soft and squishy or hard and bouncy depending on how much air was inside it. We kids named it "The Blob."
The Blob was one of those neighborhood things that made you instantly popular. The fun thing for us kids with the Blob was our discovery that if one of us sat on one end of the thing and another jumped onto or quickly kneeled on the other side, the first kid would get displaced or be given a "lift-off." We soon discovered that by jumping from various heights, we could actually launch each other. Endless fun. We must have spent a week just doing variations on the same theme. Word got around, and "The Blob" gained quite a reputation. In those days, everybody seemed to have kids or had had kids. Some families had kids way older than me (I turned 50 today). Anyway, it was easy to round up a dozen kids in those days, and that was really just in about a two or three block circle.
The fun escalated that summer without much adult supervision until we discovered that jumping off a garden shed roof would really send a smaller kid flying--I mean several feet in the air! One poor kid landed wrong and we heard about it after he ran home in tears.
The Blob had a tough thick skin and seemed indestructible. We also played games of running each other over--getting swallowed and eaten by the Blob. We gave it our all for what must have been a good solid month until school started in September. One night, somebody snuck into our backyard and slashed the Blob with what looked like a sharp knife according to my dad. We never did figure that one out.