Thanksgiving At The Bottom of the Pool
Created by backusstudio on 12/12/2014
The Lewis household in the early 1980s was an amazing place. Mark's mother Roberta, or "Mama Lew", was a remarkable woman. She managed to raise four children, three boys and one youngest girl, who were all completely different and each one brilliant in their own way. I was amazed to see virtually no handprint of coercion on her kids. Each one had been allowed to grow up to be exactly who they were meant to be.
Their home was very appropriately located on Christmas Tree Lane or Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena. This street of enormous Deodar trees is home to the oldest outdoor tree lighting ceremony in the US. Every Christmas these huge trees are decorated with lights and ornaments transforming them into several blocks of enormous Christmas trees. I remember traveling across Los Angeles years earlier with my parents to see them. The Lewises had a very nice home on a large lot with a pool in the back yard. During one of the many Southern California earthquakes the pool developed a crack that continually leaked the water out of the pool. Because of this the Lewises drained the pool and left it empty.
Just prior to Thanksgiving one year I was over at the Lewis's and early Thanksgiving planning had begun. There was the usual lobbying for favorite dressings and side dishes. Then the subject of where to have Thanksgiving dinner came up. The Lewis family was amply sized to begin with and Roberta had the habit of collecting strays, which my girlfriend and I were that year. The normal dining room was too small for the entire group. Splitting people up into separate rooms wouldn't do, where could we have Thanksgiving and fit everyone at one table?
Someone in the group, I can't recall who, said "Why not have Thanksgiving at the bottom of the pool?" Not knowing Roberta very well at that point I expected an adult "don't be ridiculous' snort and not much more. To my amazement and delight her face lit up and she said, "That's perfect! That's exactly what we'll do!"
We got to work hosing the pool down and scrubbing it to make it ready for the big event. Next came decorations. We took blue crepe streamers, twisted them, and taped them across the top surface of the pool deck to create a water surface effect when we were down in the pool. It was amazingly effective. The slight amount of breeze moving over the streamers made them roll back and forth and look very much like water. We then made paper fish, squid and other sea creatures which we hung at different levels from the 'waves' above. The floor of the pool was decorated with brightly colored paper starfish. Once we had moved some folding banquet tables and chairs to the flat, deep end of the pool the stage was set.
Roberta was an excellent cook but I honestly can't remember much about the meal itself. What I do remember was sitting at the deep end of the Lewis's pool being absolutely delighted with the proceedings. I can still hear the laughter and the happy chatter of the Lewis family, still clearly see the gently rolling 'waves' above me as I had the most memorable Thanksgiving of my life.