Throwback Thursday: Tree Frogs!

Let me tell you the tree frog story from Lake Welsh.

Photo credit: Randy Andrews

Back in the 1960s my birth family had four children and therefore vacations when we did anything other than camping were rare. Our typical getaway involved loading up our large Ford “Country Squire” station wagon with a large tent and camping gear, plus canned and packaged food for a week.

Our usual destination was a place called Lake Welsh.

Lake Welsh was part of Harriman State Park, which also contains Bear Mountain State Park. Below is a map to give you vague idea of where was in “downstate” New York: north of New York City, but south of the bulk of the rest of New York State.It was a two-hour ride from our home in the center of Long Island, New York, depending on traffic. So it was even a convenient destination for long weekends.

It was especially nice to get away to Lake Welsh during our fiendishly hot summers, because although we lived near the Atlantic Ocean beaches they were almost inaccessible due to traffic consisting of people streaming out to the beaches from New York City. And Lake Welsh had a beach; in fact, it was where I learned how to swim. Plus you could go fishing there (we were regulars at the bait shop), and there were nearby places where for a nominal fee you could go to a drive-in movie or jump up and down on a trampoline. In short, it was a perfect place for a family vacation.

But this post is about tree frogs.

Once my sister Kathy and I were old enough to be allowed to walk around the edges of the lake on our own, albeit using a buddy system in case someone fell in, we reveled in the freedom of being able to explore such a beautiful place in our own. There was a very nice path around the edge of the lake, and our mother was pleased to have us occupied while she was trying to put together dinner.

For some reason we showed up that year when tiny green tree frogs were all over the place. My sister and I had never seen them before, and we decided to bring a few back to show the rest of the family. So we found an old plastic cup and proceeded to put some of the tree frogs into it. Quite a few. In fact, we ended up filling it to the brim.

But when we got back to the campsite no one was around. The car was gone, so we assumed that mom and dad had taken our younger brother and sister and gone to the local market to buy something they’d forgotten to bring. We shrugged, put the cup full of tree frogs on the center of the table, and covered it with a weighted plate. We could always show the rest of the family our prize when they got back. Then we ran off to the local playground to see how high we could make the swings go.

The playground wasn’t far. And we found out that our family had come back to the campsite when we heard hysterical screaming. It seems our unflappable mother had knocked over the innocent looking cup that was in the center of the table while she was setting the table for dinner and about 100 miniature Kermits had exploded in her face and covered the table with gumdrop-sized froggy madness.

My sister and I still laugh about it to this day.