In 1963 my parents rented a houseboat to travel the boundary waters of Lonesome Bay on Rainy Lake, in Ontario, Canada. This houseboat vacation was very exciting because I have always loved to explore nature and I love the smells and sights of the huge northern lakes. At the time I was fourteen, my sister Carla was eleven, my brother Peter was eight, and my father and mother were thirty-four and thirty-six respectively. I was so very impressed that Father could navigate our family around in the wilderness.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and I was glad for that. However, I distinctly recall that this was yet another family vacation when I was NOT allowed to participate. I could not sit at the houseboat steering wheel to have my photograph taken. I was not being allowed to take photographs of the family as my sister and brother did. I was not allowed to do any activity. Half a century later I can only suppose that I was still being "punished" for four years prior when I was ten and the family irrationally blamed me for an explosive that my sister brought home that took off the tips of several of my brother's fingers.
At any rate, my healthy, active young mind and body suffered through the endless stillnesses imposed upon me by my family, in particular by my mother. She would yank me around and then sit me somewhere, telling me to stay put, an interaction style that my sister later emulated with her sons. If I got up to move about, mother would beat me over the head and shoulders, and father would yell, "Not in the head, not in the head." It was not so much that the beatings and exclusion hurt, but that it was all so humiliating, and ultimately boring. What was my family thinking, father, mother, sister, and brother that while they enjoyed themselves they sat me in the midst of them then shut me down and left me out? Could they really have been happy while they kept me so unhappy? If I had not been the brunt of my own family's control, I would not have believed this sort of thing happened within family enclosures. When outsiders questioned what was going on, my family united and feigned long-term suffering and said, "She is impossible, just impossible.", without saying just what was "impossible" about me. There was no way I could take a normal, functional place within my family. Every thing I did was twisted back upon me. For just one example, I remember when my sister came in from swimming, she became hysterical when she saw that half a dozen black leeches clung to her body. We had never seen leeches before, and her blood dripping from where the leeches bite and clung onto my little sister made the leeches especially gruesome. Carla waited until I had picked all of the leeches off of her, then she accused me of being cruel to the leeches.
Caption: Throckmorton Houseboat Vacation In the Canadian Boundary Waters.
I am on upper deck, siblings are on main deck with father and paternal grandmother.
Photograph by Phyllis Throckmorton 1963
Caption: My younger sister Carla posing with our fish dinner and at the steering wheel of rented houseboat on family vacation in Lonesome Bay on Rainy Lake, Ontario, Canada 1963.