"Can I carry it?" I said, eyeing the basket. Inside were our favorites. My aunt would measure equal parts grape jelly and peanut butter into a glass and mix the two into a yucky blue paste which she spread onto two slices of white bread. It was the best. Along with those pbj's would be crushed pineapple sandwiches that were so juicy we had to eat fast lessin' they'd slip throught the bread before finishing. I'm sure there were others wrapped up in waxed paper lining the bottom of the basket but those were the ones I'd always go looking for under the hot sun.
"If you think you can, go ahead," said my mother.
I lifted, leaning my entire body to one side, straining to keep the picnic basket from dragging the ground.
"I got it to the car momma! You'll have to put it in the trunk though." She smiled lifting it into the trunk which was about eye level to me. These were the days before I started going to RTS, rotten tomato soup, we used to called it. Riverland Terrace School, the local grammar school, was at least a year away for me. Besides this was summer and we were heading for Folly Beach with sandwiches warapped neatly in waxpaper squares and Cocolas along with Orange Crush and Grape Sodas in ice.
Mom put the towels into the trunk, piling them around the baskets. My cousins and I were all ready with our bathing suits on standing around patiently waiting. The old '50 Ford was packed to the gills with everything we'd need for a wet and sandy day. None of us complained about the wait, though. My aunt had to get my other cousin ready before we could begin the trip. He had never been able to run and play with the rest of us. He had been born with a congenital muscle disease. His muscles never developed so he was always confined to a chair. None of us minded though. He was always with us at what ever we did. We made him the center of our play. His suggestions were always acted upon in whatever game happened to be in progress and we always listened incorporating his suggestions. He was the heart of our activities. His inclusion was never a chore. He was an asset at the center of our games.
When he was settled, the rest of us would pile in for a ride down the two lane to Folly Beach. Along that slim ribbon of road there was a large body of water dependent on the tides. On the shoulder stood an old creosoted pier column that protruded from the water. There were always crowds of black children around that pole. Any time we drove past in the summer one of those kids would be cannon balling off the top of that old post into the rippling tide waters rising around it. We never saw the splash since we'd be too far away by that time. A black body suspended in air above the water is the forever image sunk deep in my mind from those drives.
Arriving at Folly we would ride up onto the grey packed sand of the shore and park. When the surf began to lap the tires we knew it was time to leave if we hadn't already.
Opening the trunk my mother would hand out the blankets with weights to hold down the corners in the wind along with towels. We kids would grab a corner of a blanket and hold it like a sail against the wind lowering its billowing presence to the ground struggling as it rippled close to the dry sand beneath. One of us would drop the weights--books, shoes, whatever--at each corner. With that it would remain flat waiting for wet bodies to flop after a swim.
My aunt would jam a large umbrella's pole into the soft sand and open the canopy producing a large circle of shade.
When all was set out we kids would make a mad dash for the waves. Not that we would venture out far since we always received a stern warning. "Don't go far from the shore! Watch out for one another!" The onrushing layer of rippling water would slip over our feet in a momentary rush of cool wet. Its outward run would pull the wet sand from beneath our feet leaving us standing on tiny hillocks waiting for the next rim of salty froth to cover our toes.
After that initial jolt of ocean we would follow the rivulets produced by the tide to a clear pool left by the recding waters. As the wind would ruffle the surface we could see how the waters had produced tiny sand dunes at the bottom. If we were lucky we'd see tiny minnows swimming while waiting for nature to return them to the ocean with the next tide.
On the edge of these tiny land locked lakes we would carry pails and shovels. And from these tiny pails mighty sand castles we would build. Knights and damsels threatened by dragons would occupy our minds until the tide began to nibble away at the sandy foundations.
"Time for lunch!" we would hear. One of my cousins would look skyward and say, "It's about noon, so I guess it is lunch time."
"How do you know it's noon?" I'd ask. "You don't have a watch."
"The sun is straight overhead. It's always there at noon." She had an uncanny ability to tell time within ten minutes of actual time from early childhood. It came in handy on occasion.
Out would come the waxed paper squares. We'd all eat our favorites. One of the grownups would pop the caps off the soft drink bottles before handing them out. We'd take the ice cold drinks dripping with water formed by melting ice and up end them. Ice cold drinks with the bite of carbonation were kid favorites.
"You'll have to wait an hour before going in the water," we were told after eating. There was nothing left to do except nap. Afterward we were ready to go again.
The afternoon was more of the same until the tide began to soak the sand ever closer to the car and blankets. It was time to leave then.
The drive home was a time of napping for us kids. Sun, wind and play left us hot red ragdolls.
We made several trips to Folly during the summers until I started first grade. I think we stopped going when they stopped allowing cars on the beach itself. I still remember juicy pineapple sandwiches that had to be eaten quickly. Tasty.