Originally published in the Oologah Lake Leader, July 1987.
While cruising through the mounds of reading materials stacked around my house, I find myself returning to the items dealing with travel. There is something in my circadian rhythm that causes me to have an overwhelming desire to travel. The nearly hysterical urge comes on about twice a year and is usually overcome only when my wife shouts my name and slaps me sharply in the face with the bank statement and savings account book. Such stark realism replaces the urge to travel with a bout of depression. In short, instead of traveling, I wind up just reading about places.
It was during one of the reading adventures that I realized that all of these places had one thing in common. Wow! Are they ever expensive! After you save up for the airfare to one of these exotic places, you are broke. If, after arriving in the dreamland of your vacation choice, you can’t afford the proper attire, food, or entertainment, then the whole outing would seem sort of pointless. Sitting naked, hungry, and bored in a discount room in paradise is not my idea of fun fun fun.
The result around our house has been fewer, shorter, and cheaper vacation. A drive to the in-laws and a weekend at poolside instead of a flying trip to the Bahamas. A drive to Dallas and a couple of nights with Mom and Pop instead of a week in the south of France.
At first glance, not a dazzling preppie vacation, but actually a lot more fun. The personal attention, love, and affection at the two alternative sites are far above any glitzy, slick commercial location. At the in-laws, they always know of a new, fun, inexpensive place to eat. At the parents’ house, the down-home cooking is world class, and there is always something unusual for entertainment.
For example, have you ever considered the recreational opportunities offered by a big-city cemetery? Not as far out as you would first think. The one that I have in mind is on Northwest Highway in Dallas.
It is Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park. It is easy to get to, very quiet and beautifully landscaped. For being in a big city, it is very safe. I’ve never heard of anyone getting mugged in a cemetery.
What makes this place so much fun is the pond at the entrance. It’s about four feet deep and about an acre in size. A fountain gives it class and the critters that live there make it unique.
The pond is stocked with goldfish. Being members of the carp family, these goldfish grow to the 10-14 pound range. No fishing equipment is allowed, but you can still have filets of fun with the golden scaly creatures.
There is a small stone bench at the east side of the pond. When you go to visit, take a loaf of old bread. Toss a quarter slice of bread on to the water’s surface, sit back and enjoy the show. In minutes, a swirl of melton gold will snatch away your yeasty offering. After the fish put in their first appearance, all you have to do is keep up with the bread supply. As you cast your bread upon the waters, you will be immediately rewarded by hundreds of fish feasting on your offering. In their eagerness to be fed, the larger fish will take the bread slices from your fingers with little slurping sounds.
They are fickle creatures and when they have seen the last of your bread, then you have seen the last of them. The golden fish cease to swirl the surface of the green water and slip silently out of sight. A rare treat for the fish. A rarer treat for us mere humans.
-by James R. May