Monday, October 13, 2008


I’m old enough to know better, but I did it anyhow. I went to the Sumiton Frog Festival last weekend, and I got BLAZED. I could have put on sunscreen or simply worn a hat but I did neither so I paid the price.

Jilda and I worked at the Frog Festival on Saturday and it was smalltown life at its best. We howdy’d up with old friends, ate BBQ, peanut brittle and some of the best fried catfish I’ve ever put in my mouth. Our musical group, The Overalls, played at 10:30 just as the autumn sun started to bear down.

I remember thinking as we were playing the third song of our set, “My, the sun is getting a little warm.” Next thing I knew, I looked like Mr. Lobster.

Jilda was much smarter (as always), because she slapped on the sunscreen before we left the house. She chided me this morning as we drank our coffee. I would have protested had it not hurt too much to turn my head. It brought back memories of my very first sunburn.

I was about 7-years-old the first time our family went to Florida. My dad didn’t get in a hurry so we made a number of stops along the way. One stop was at a little roadside attraction on Highway 98 in Florida. They had dried starfish, postcards, and mountains of seashells. A salty breeze blew out of the south and it felt good on my face.

We stayed in a small cottage on the west end of Panama City Beach, and I got enough sand in my shorts to build a sandbox in our backyard at home.

My dad went on a half-day charter fishing excursion and brought back a cooler full of grouper and amberjack.

The sky was overcast that first day, and we played at the beach until it was too dark to see before heading back to the cottage. Mother cooked up a batch of fried fish, and we ate ourselves into a stupor.

The next day, much to my dismay, we went on a sightseeing trip and spent most of the sunny day in the car. All I could do is look longingly out the window at the emerald water a few feet away.

The next morning we hit the beach at 10. For a while, we looked like the families on the postcards. However, after several hours in the gulf coast sun, we all looked like we had spent time in a microwave. Everyone was ROASTED!

The last day of the vacation was not a happy day for the Watson family. All us kids were in varying stages of exquisite pain. My mom was not sympathetic because she too was fried.

Needless to say, we cut the vacation short and spent the next six or seven hours in pure sunburn Hades. Blood curdling screams ensued if one of us kids brushed up against another. Ominous threats came from the front seat.

We finally made it home but my mother and older brother Neil had big honkin' water blisters forming all over their backs and shoulders. My sister and I both have complexions much like our dad's and while we were in pain, we didn't shed our skin like a snake. That one trip to Florida was enough for my mother.

When Jilda and I went by to see my mom this afternoon she asked me how I got burned. I told her I'd been at the festival all day without sunscreen. I remembered this vacation story and asked her if she'd like to go to the beach. She shook her head adamantly. I could almost hear her say, "I’d rather stick my head in a fireplace."

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