On the Waterfront – launches February 13, 2023
I was twelve years old when this story came to me, the essence of the story, anyway. I was a scout at Camp Baker staying at the Tyee campsite. One morning, I was having some intestinal issues. I sat in a wooden outhouse on a bluff overlooking Siltcoos lake with the door open, gazing out at the water.
The story was about two boys swimming the mile swim. An accident occurred and one boy was gravely injured. The injured boy promised his friend he would always watch over him whenever he swam.
That was it. The idle imaginings of a twelve-year-old sitting on the shitter. It wasn’t a fully thought-out story, but the idea rattled around in my mind for the next fifty-plus years. Ever since that day, I thought about becoming a writer and promised myself I would put this story down on paper one day. It was not a simple task. I tried several times and never finished. It’s taken years for me to craft this tale.
On the Waterfront is fiction, but many of the episodes in the story are real. If you asked me if I was Danny or Mark, I would say some of each.
I was a member of staff at Camp Baker for two summers in 1973 and 1974. I worked in the kitchen and on the waterfront. Brian and Molly were real people, although I don’t remember if those are their real names. I was happy to be away from home and my bratty little brother. There were some rather gross chores I had at home involving animals, and I worked hard to make and save money.
While working on the waterfront, I swam several mile swims and there was an old green rowboat I loved to row. One day, a storm came up suddenly and a sailboat overturned. The speedboat that went to rescue the sailboat had engine trouble. I rowed out through turbulent water and pulled both boats back to shore through crashing waves in a violent storm.
Those and many other story elements in On the Waterfront really happened. There are many true stories behind the story. They say you write what you know. I have done exactly that, drawing deeply from the experiences of my youth and the wonderful times I spent at Camp Baker.
What’s the significance of the red Speedo pictured to the right? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
I hope you enjoy reading On the Waterfront. It’s a deeply personal story for me, one that was difficult to get down on paper, but I am happy I have finally fulfilled the boyhood promise I made to myself so long ago.