Here we are, the Gould kids, in 1948 or 1949.
John and I always called this our “pup” tent – a variation on the term “dog tent,” which was American English for what Brits and Aussies apparently call a “shelter-half.”
I don’t know why it’s called a shelter-half – or a pup tent, for that matter. I asked my neighbor, who’s nearly 90 years old and was in the military; he said it has to do with each soldier carrying half the stakes and poles so when they paired up, connected their ponchos and draped them over the center pole, they had a full tent!
He also thinks that “dog” is an old slang term for a soldier...and that maybe it all does make sense when you add it up!
Anyway, I’ve promised him a Milky Way candy bar if he’s right (his favorite), so let me know.
There’s something sweet about this photo...
...not because it’s of me (I’m teeny) and my brother John (slightly less teeny, but still small). I know this was taken at my grandmother’s house in
and I know that the tent was a Very Big Deal when we were little... Boston
...I remember the smell of it, especially when the sun warmed the canvas: a kind of damp, musty smell (which must have put my brother’s asthma into overdrive, but I don’t remember that happening). And I remember lying inside it with my head facing out, smelling grass and dirt; I remember our cocker spaniel, Ferdie, barking at it, convinced it was an intruder of sorts; I remember, too, my father, crawling in with me and spending the night once—my first camp out!
...but I digress.
...the sweetness has to do with a time and place long gone by, an age of wonder and promise and youth, and that lovely border of iris in my grandmother’s back yard; a sudden understanding that I inherited that love of iris from her, and, to this day, have borders and beds of it in my own back yard, sixty-five years later.