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Swimming lessons and Moon Pies

By Staff | May 29, 2009

Neither of my parents had the opportunity to learn how to swim. However, they, like many parents, made sure that their children had the opportunity for lessons. Mom was great at teaching us life lessons and pulling inspiration out of us. She was very set in her mind that all her sons would learn to swim.

Now this was not an easy task, because Underwood was not blessed to have a swimming pool until the late ’70s. It was the summer of 1969, and every morning for several weeks we made our trek to Riverdale to take swimming lessons. I have always loved Riverdale, as it is located on the bluffs of Lake Sakakawea. It is an extremely neat town which sprang up in 1946 to house the workers building the Garrison Dam. The dam was completed in 1953; however, the federal government operated the town until 1986. I loved to ride about the town admiring all the neatly-kept homes and especially the brick two-story homes which have a classic colonial style.

My interest in Riverdale in 1969 mainly focused on the outdoor swimming pool which was located on the east end of town. Upon arrival, you were greeted by a bungalow which was covered with tar paper in an attractive tan-brick design. Above the door was a large green enameled projecting light fixture. A metal chain link fence surrounded the large cement outdoor pool which was designed in the sunken garden style. When you parked your car near the pool, you had a bird’s eye view of everything. Often while children were taking lessons, mothers would sit in their cars and visit. Many times they spread a blanket and enjoyed the view.

Now getting to the pool was always an interesting task. As I mentioned, my mother was our chauffeur, and she was often pushing us to do the thing we didn’t want to do-like swimming in a non-heated outdoor pool on a cool June morning. Thank goodness my mom was a dominating force and often yelled up the stairway, “Let’s get going boys – we are going to be late for lessons.” Being late for lessons is exactly what we wanted.

My parents had just purchased a 1969 Ford, LTD – baby blue, complete with dark blue vinyl top and distinctive hidden headlights. This car came equipped with a 429 motor with 8 cylinders, and my mom behind the navy steering wheel could make this baby move! We sons had decided to shake things up a bit on how we arrived at the pool. First of all, we set all of our clocks, including the one in the car, ahead by 15 minutes. Once in the car, she caught sight of the clock and said, “My, look at the time! Now I am going to have to speed! You boys are going to have to pick up the pace and get up earlier from now on!”

She ignited the motor and set the car in reverse and full-throttled out of our driveway, nearly giving all of us whiplash. It was take-off time! A yellow haze of dust arose as we barreled up the cemetery road north of town. Our Goodyear rubber met the Highway 83 pavement, and friction of these two surfaces meeting up produced bluish smoke and a squeal that many a race car driver would have admired. As sons, we were proud of our mother knowing how to peel out. How cool. “Go, Mama!”

None of us sons had experienced flying; however, the way Mom made our car fly you would have thought she was a member of the elite Ninety-Nines, zooming past our swimming pals and their pokey mothers with ease! She glided us around the corner at Midway and headed onto Highway 200 like we were competing in the Indianapolis 500. Oh, how that Ford purred at 85! At last we understood all those speeches she had been giving us about the road to success and how it requires you to get your speed up!

We were the first to arrive at the pool. Instantly, my mom knew she was transporting a bunch of clowns. She certainly was blessed by our good Lord with patience as she tried in every way to understand these mischievous redheads. It is this deep, loving understanding she shared with us that has inspired me to be an accepting parent as well. Oddly enough, one of the first acts of mischievousness that Lydia demonstrated in our home was to remove every button from all of our alarm clocks! Through the years Mom was always checking to make sure the clocks were correct. She also made sure that she witnessed each of her sons going off the diving board into the crystalline waters of the Riverdale swimming pool.

This summer I plan to introduce Lydia to the Rugby swimming pool. So if you happen to see me speeding up Main Street, think nothing of it. I will be just reliving a wonderful memory.

Mom often treated us to delights at the Riverdale Drive-In. A favorite for us boys was a homemade ice cream sandwich. It consisted of two chocolate cookies, and in between was soft serve ice cream delicious and refreshing after a morning swim. We never made these at home; however, we did attempt a real close look-alike.

Moon Pies or Whoopie Pies

Growing up we called these Moon Pies because they were round just like the moon. We received this recipe from one of our southern custom combiners who returned to our trailer park each season. They fondly called them Whoopie Pies. When you treat yourself to these dark, rich, moist, tender cakes lavishly piped with creamy filling, you will know why!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/ 2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

cup of butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs until fluffy and set aside. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into mixing bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add beaten eggs along with vanilla, instant coffee and blend well. Hand stir in flour mixture and buttermilk in small amounts. Each cookie will take about 1/3 cup of batter. Allow room for them to spread out on a greased cookie sheet or if you prefer, line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. I use large baking pans, and 6 fit well. Bake as you would cake using your middle oven racks and bake about 15 to 20 minutes. You will know they are done when they spring back. Allow them to cool very well on pans before removing.

Filling

cup butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar and corn syrup until fluffy. Next, beat in vanilla and salt. Begin beating in the Fluff in small amounts until well blended. I usually allow time for this to firm up in the refrigerator.

Place filling high on a cookie and top with another and gently press until filling pipes out to edge. I store these in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This recipe will make about 6 to 8 depending on the size of your cakes.

Repnow is a Rugby resident.

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