Summer Homes For City People 2015

In the early spring of 2010, I had a questionable idea. I thought I’d take some of these rambling blog posts that I call “stories” even though they lack a beginning, a middle, and typically an end, and I’d publish them in a magazine with some pretty pictures and my phone number. I ran the idea by some people. A friend of mine said it sounded stupid. My father said he didn’t get it, but he said that while reclined in his La-Z-Boy in the middle of a weekday afternoon, a blanket loosely covering his old legs. Some clients that I asked thought it was a fair idea, but in truth they just didn’t have the heart to tell me what a bad idea it really was. I printed the magazine anyway, and it was more like a pamphlet.


The 2015 issue of Summer Homes For City People is underway. It’ll be the best issue yet, because I’ve not enlisted the help of Julie Barber for the design. The 2014 issue was her first, and it was markedly better than all of the ones that came before. I’m using Neal Aspinall for the cover design, as usual, and this year we’re doing a full-cover wrap. The initial draft is above, but it’ll likely be tweaked and tussled with before final printing in early May.

Just what is this magazine? Well, it’s sort of a real estate magazine with beautiful property listings. It’s also sort of a lifestyle magazine, like those shiny glossies that just have big pictures and ads. It’s also sort of like a regular magazine, with writing and headlines. It’s also sort of self-aggrandizing, but that’s to be expected anytime a Realtor gets near a printing press. It’s also still kind of a pamphlet, though far less a pamphlet now than it originally was, and I’m proud of the maturation of the design and the content.

I’m seeking a few extra ads for the upcoming issue, so if you know any business that would benefit from being included in this most wonderful magazine, please do let me know. I only take ads from companies that I think appeal to the Lake Geneva set, so if your best friend owns a bowling alley in Whitewater, chances are I don’t want his ad. I’m also seeking lakefront and lake access sellers that want their homes celebrated on these bright pages. Time is running out for both opportunities. Oh, and remember when I said there had been some level of maturation of content? Well, below is a post that will be printed in the magazine, and you can rather easily see that maturation is a word that I’m using extremely loosely.

Swimming Lessons
My introduction to life

It wouldn’t have been that hard to find me. The sun was out, the grass was growing, my orange and white Simplicity lawn tractor had at least fifty cents of Herb’s gas in the tank. I couldn’t be reached by cell phone, because it was 1989 and only Miami drug dealers and my friend Eric’s dad had those. If I wasn’t on Liechty, and I wasn’t at Doc’s eating Williams Bay’s newest delicacy- the egg roll- then I had to be on Elmhurst Street, mowing those lawns. The apartment building counted as just one lawn, with one weekly bill, but it felt like many lawns because of all the sidewalks that broke that wide lawn down into six mini-lawns. That’s where I was, and that’s where my mom found me.

I was late. It was whatever day of the week I had swimming lessons, and I was late. There wasn’t time to ride my lawn mower home, to hitch up the little trailer that bore my name and phone number to the back bumper of that orange tractor. There was no time. I’d have to leave the tractor there, with the trailer next to it, with the blower and the weedwhip and the small red cans of mixed and regular gas. I jumped into the station wagon.

I spent many hours at the Williams Bay beach. This is where I took a lifetime of swimming lessons under the tutelage of the red swimsuit wearing girls that worked for the Water Safety Patrol. This is where I took lessons, but this isn’t where I learned to swim. I learned to swim and dive at the Loch Vista Club pier. First in the shallows, near the slippery rocks and those slippery steps. Later, I would swim in and around the boats and the buoys, clinging to the underside of stringers and hanging to the top of horses. I learned to swim at that pier, but I learned about proper strokes and older women at that beach.

I learned other things there, too. I learned that if I ever found myself in the middle of a lake or an ocean, and I had fallen into that water with my clothes on, that I should take off my pants. While treading water, I was to tie each leg into a knot, somewhere between the knee and the cuff. Then, while treading water, pants-less, I was to hold the pants with both hands, by the waist band, and throw those pants over my head and down into the water. The goal here was to capture air in the pants, so that I could float longer in the middle of whatever watery grave I was treading water in. I remember working at this for quite some time, and while I passed the test, I was as certain then as am I now: This pant flotation device would never actually work. Instead, your pantless body would wash onto a beach some days later and the people there would wonder just what it was you had been doing.

This must have been the last year of these lessons, where the wheat is beaten from the chaff, and those of us proficient in tying pants into lifesaving devices went on to greater things while those who couldn’t fell away, destined for nothing, ever. This last year was less swimming and more survival, less lessons and more cruel punishments that were devised by older people and implemented by high school girls with tanned faces, zinced noses, and red swimming suits. Each session featured something different, something more strange than the next. It was like Navy Seal training, without the supervision and protein bars and fame.

One time, we had to tread water holding a rock over our heads. The rock, looking back, must have weighed ten pounds or so. Maybe less, maybe a lot more. When these sorts of drills took place we had to move to the outer edge of the Western pier, presumably so that the younger children couldn’t see what would happen to them if they stuck with these swimming lessons. Learned the front crawl, check. Learned to float, check. Learned the backstroke, check. Learned to dolphin kick, check. Learned to tread water with just your legs while holding a boulder over your head under the watchful eye of a tanned, red suited taskmaster? Um, check?

When someone is drowning, they are rarely passive. People only slip quietly under the surface to die in movies and album covers. What actually happens is a horribly frantic death flail, which is why people who try to save drowning people usually end up drowning along with them. Drowning people are selfish jerks, and they’ll cling to you and drag you under no matter how large of a rock you can hold over your head. To prepare us for this inevitability, we had to fight off drowning victims. In this exercise, the victim would be the tanned lesson giver. I paid very close attention when she described what was about to happen.

She would be in the water, and one by one, we would have to approach her, drag her to safety, and presumably be rewarded with some sort of victory kiss. The last part was unclear. The girl promised that she would try her best to drown us, and that we had to use the various moves that we had learned. The moves were like, you grab my arm and I push it away, you grab my neck and I use some evasive maneuver similar to paint-the-fence. It didn’t seem so hard, and whether I went first or I went last I cannot remember, but I can vividly remember my turn.

The girl, with the tan skin and the red suit, was treading water about 15 feet from the pier. She was fake screaming, fake flailing her arms, creating all sorts of ruckus. I jumped in, attempting to use that jump they teach that keeps your head from going under water so as not to lose sight of the victim. I approached her cautiously, not only because she was drowning but because I was 12 and she was 17. I would have been nervous no matter the occasion, if I were bringing a pack of gum to a gas station attendant who was the same age, I would have been just as nervous. This was less a swimming test and more a social one.

When I was close, she lunged. She grabbed me around the back of my head, pulling my face towards her red swim suit. It was fantastic and frightening at once, and though I didn’t really want to, I used a wax on/off movement and deflected her hug. She played along nicely after that, and allowed me to tow her back to the pier, my tow hand dangerously close to her armpit. I had passed the test, and I had enjoyed every minute of it.

Swimming lessons stopped for me that year. I never went on to become a lifeguard. I never rode one of the patrol boats, with wayfarers and a zinc nose. I just went back to the orange and white Simplicity and mowed more lawns. Swimming lessons in pools are fine, but swimming lessons in pools prepare you for a life of swimming in pools. Swimming lessons in the lake are the best, and each beach on Geneva still offers those same swimming lessons from those same red suits. Check and get your kids signed up this summer. If you have a 12 year old son, chances are he’ll love it, even if he acts like he doesn’t.

About the Author

I'm David Curry. I write this blog to educate and entertain those who subscribe to the theory that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is indeed the center of the real estate universe. When I started selling real estate 27 years ago I did so of a desire to one day dominate the activity in the Lake Geneva vacation home market. With over $800,000,000 in sales since January of 2010, that goal is within reach. If I can help you with your Lake Geneva real estate needs, please consider me at your service. Thanks for reading.

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