Alligator Pond

Wrestling Match (2) Rachel has been awarded a scholarship for being a descendant of a World War One veteran, my grandfather, on my mother’s side, who would – in years past – take my brothers and I to Alligator Pond during our annual vacation from the Northland back home to Arcadia, Florida when I was yet a child; an activity with many rituals I now remember fondly which included the stop at the seven eleven to pick up coca cola ices for ourselves and Fritos corn chips nominally for the alligators but which I could not help myself from eating quite a bit more than my share on the car ride to the pond where with our yet childish arms we would make what we thought were fantastic throws with the chips into the water and watch with excitement as the alligators on the far side would rouse themselves from their languorous naps in the heat of the day and silently slip into the water to sample what to them must have been viewed as paltry snacks, which makes me think of the most exciting moment that has stayed with me these many years when two alligators from either side of the pond began to approach a single solitary corn chip thrown by my older brother Trey – who had no aspersions to baseball but nevertheless to my child’s mind appeared to have a great arm and a fantastic pitch at least when it came to corn chips and might do well in the major leagues – and we all watched with growing excitement as the two ‘gators headed on a collision course having no idea what might happen – whether they would collide in a heap of alligator skin and sink to the bottom or a great battle between the mighty lizards would ensue –  we were shocked and cheered as the beasts both at once took their eyes of the chip to look up and see the other approaching competitor and like the great u-boats of WWII – which my grandfather did not fight in, having previously been shot during a critical battle in WWI in the upper area of his leg through his canteen, a wound which he would one day gravely tell my cousin Wes, who was named after him, that if the Germans could shoot better he, Wes – my cousin – wouldn’t be here, which I think applies to myself as well, which is not to say grandpa thought he might have died, but rather the shot might have passed through a more critical potion of his anatomy, specifically that aforementioned unmentionable rather than what I shall more delicately call his high hind quarter, preventing him from continuing the Tinsley name through his progeny; my yet unborn mother as well as her two yet unborn older sisters, one of which was of course Wes’s mother – the great ‘gators submerged with a startling splash and neither got the chip, and the moment came, always unexpectedly and all too soon for my taste for us to depart from the pond despite still having a few chips and some final sips of the now completely melted ices, and the three of us being rather too quickly ushered into the front seat of grandpas ’57 Chevy, which he drove slowly like, well, like a grandpa, and going back to his strange house having no basement and standing roughly four feet above ground on an array of rather short stilts, and for the entire car ride back to the home my mom grew up in, I wondered why we always left Alligator Pond so suddenly, a subject which my grandpa’ never commented on as if, I now think, that reason might have been too grizzly to openly discuss, much like the strangely redacted account of his recollections of the great battle in which he was wounded from his even now unpublished memoirs.


  1. Breathless writing–but what happened to the alligators? Did they swerve at the last minute? I feel like your younger self, having left the pond too early….


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