Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 4 – Sewer Grates, Miles River Yacht Club, Slot Machines, Chesapeake Bay Bridge

This is the fourth in a serialization of my father’s biography. Previous parts can be found below on McHenry County Blog.

One of Dad’s inspirations for running for office involved an unresponsive city government.

I can hear the sounds of gravel to this day hitting the water below my feet as my Dad held my hands after I managed to slip into the open storm sewer.

Dad went to city hall and asked for a grate on the sewer. (You might say my and my father’s political careers started that day…in the gutter. That what I said about my own when I announced for the U.S. Senate in 1981 at my then in-laws’ Herb and Millicent Geist’s David Adler mansion at at 955 Lake Avenue in Lake Forest.)

Dad didn’t get what he requested.

So, when the post of president of the town council became vacant, he had a real reason for running.

Needless to say, storm sewers soon through Easton soon had grates.

Jan Skinner with parents Cal and Eleanor Skinner in 1965, the year they went to Europe.

First daughter Janet was born in 1944.

I remember the family joined the Miles River Yacht Club. We had a small outboard in what seemed to be a very big berth to someone about six. I remember the day we came to the yacht club and it had sunk.

More scary were the fireworks that blew onto our blanket when the wind blew in from the east during the 4th of July celebration.

Dad then bought a leaky, old fishing boat. We had just seen the “African Queen,” so it probably was in 1951 or 52. The boat ran aground in Kent Narrows and the men got off to push it off the sandbar. I was put in charge of the pump at age ten, while my eight-year old sister Janet sat with me inside the small cabin.

The yacht club is where I got introduced to slot machines. They were nickel slots and I have to admit I did not understand the sign above them:

No Minors

I knew there were no mines nearby.

My father and his assistant Jack Rue, who became a congressional assistant to either Rogers C.B. Morton or his successor, took off the boat’s copper sheathing and spend hours putting wooden match sticks into the holes where the nails had been.

One day a snow goose showed up in the back room where the washing machine was kept. Dad had shot it. I remember Mother’s pouring boiling water over to loosen the feathers, which she plucked. I don’t think she was too happy about having that task.

Sometime in the late 1940’s Dad bought a used offset press and started a printing business in the side room where we played. I guess he thought the family needed more money than Tri-State Packers paid him.

Dad was in the caravan of Eastern Shore public officials who were the first to drive across the new Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952.

So much for the ferry rides across the Bay. They were a real treat to us kids.

That was the same year that second daughter Ellen entered the world. Jan and I were asked if we wanted a little brother or sister. My guess is that Mom asked the question after she was pregnant.

More tomorrow


Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 4 – Sewer Grates, Miles River Yacht Club, Slot Machines, Chesapeake Bay Bridge — 3 Comments

  1. Based on yesterdays report, you were born on this day, June 11th. Happy Birthday Cal.

  2. Sorry I missed your birthday, Cal. Thanks for the happy memories of your mom and dad, wonderful people.

  3. Hello Mr. Skinner as soon as possible I need you to contact me concerning one of your previous post! Thank you (urgent )

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