Five Sure Signs You Grew up in Grand Isle County
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When you grow up in any place, certain things that seem natural to you are bound to make an outside observer stop and scratch their head. Here are five sure signs that you grew up in Grand Isle County.
1. You were an adult before you realized tiny castles are not a thing - If you grew up in South Hero, you might be excused for failing to notice how many tiny castles whizzed by the bus window on your way to school. Harry Barber, an interesting Swiss migrant was walking to Argentina one day (I told you he was interesting) when he made an unexpected stop in South Hero that lasted three decades. Between 1930 and 1966 Barber built at least seven miniature castles out of stones he found on the lakeshore. Many of these castles can be seen from roadsides today. Just don't visit your relatives and ask to see their tiny castles. They won't know what you are talking about.
2. You've used the drawbridge as an excuse for tardiness - Today the bridge opens on the hour, but for most of the latter half of the 20th century the drawbridge, that connects Grand Isle and North Hero opened on demand. Any boat that wanted to get through would radio the operator, and the bridge would open. Motorists trying to get anywhere on time would approach the bridge in a cold sweat, hoping like heck not to see the flashing lights as they rounded the corner. Residents lucky enough to be going somewhere in the islands though, need not have worried. "The drawbridge was up" was all you had to say when you arrived.
3. You think you're not a good swimmer, but the rest of the world thinks you're Michael Phelps - When you grow up surrounded by water, everyone learns to swim. Like all skills, some will naturally be better than others, and some won't be very good. That is, until you venture out into the world, and realize that being the worst swimmer in the islands also makes you the best swimmer in Indiana. Just don't get cocky and try to show them your mad Green Mountain B-Ball skills, turns out that's not a thing either.
4. You've never bought less than 20 items at a grocery store - If you grew up in Grand Isle County, the concept of an express lane boggles the mind. "Who drives an hour and a half to the grocery store and only buys 19 items?" Grocery day is an event in the islands. When we go to town, we mean it. We have lists, meal plans, snacks, and the big car. One slip up could mean two weeks without pizza rolls, this is not for the faint of heart.
5. You are at peace with the idea of a lake monster - People love to debate the existence of Nessie, and Bigfoot as adults, but when you are a kid you will believe anything, especially if it comes from a reputable source like your best friend's older brother. No kid in Grand Isle County even questioned the existence of Champ, we took it for granted that he was out there. The only question was how badly did we want to try out those rocking He-Man floaties, and who was going to be stupid enough to admit that being eaten by a lake monster was a problem. Like children who grow up in the shadow of a volcano, we accepted our mortality and hoped he would eat our friends first.