The Nicest Dock In Tub

An Original Story To be Read To Your Children or Grandchildren

Aside from its funny name its lighthouse and two beautiful bays one huge one almost tub-harborten miles across called Upper and one opening on the Atlantic Ocean  only one mile across called Lower, what visitors usually remember about the old New England fishing  village called Tub are the very well cared for docks at the end of Main Street on Lower Bay.

There aren’t a lot of them and none of them are more than a hundred feet long but all of them are painted bright white or pale blue, cherry, lemon and faded lime just like the little New England style frame houses behind them and any exposed brass is always polished so that it shines like gold and any iron work like the bollards that the boats tie up to are always painted shiny black or sea green.

Because while the people of Tub are very proud of how shipshape their boats are and how they keep the Tub Town Library up or their lighthouse operating when most other lighthouses have shut down and while they’re super proud of the Schoolhouse on top of Schoolhouse hill the highest hill in the village and proud of their own houses and shops and gardens of course, they’re especially proud of is what a nice picture their docks make.

Indeed one year a photograph of the Tub’s docks was the July Photo in the famous New England Seafaring Calendar and Almanac.

But the fever to have the docks looking as nice as possible reaches fever pitch the closer Tub gets to the Fourth of July.  Because every year on the Fourth of July there is contest about which one is nicest.

At two in the afternoon of the Fourth the town band plays famous nautical tunes like Son Of A Son Of A Sailor, Sloop John B or Anchors Aweigh and with a lot of ceremony  the mayor of Tub boards one of the fishing boats, a very clean and well-scrubbed one of course because it’s a big honor.  And the boat and Mayor sails across lower bay to the entrance to the ocean marked by the Tub Lighthouse and out to sea so that all the other fishing boats and some whale watching boats and whatever private yachts are in Tub can form up into a single long line behind it.   Then the Mayor’s boat turns around and sails back into Lower bay with all the other boats following and slowly cruises by all the docks while writing down all their best features.  Things like how nicely cared for is the paint on a dock or whether or not it has pretty colors or the best signs or whether or not it has the finest carpentry or the shiniest iron or brass parts.

Then once he or she is finished, and it usually takes at least an hour to carefully examine the docks, the Mayor sails on through the channel they call the Narrows into the much bigger Upper bay so that the long line of boats following him or her has room to turn around again.  Then the Mayor sails back into the lower bay and anchors in front of the dock he or she has decided makes the nicest picture of what a dock should look like.  The one image of a dock that Tub can be most proud of and all the people on all the boats gather round in a big cluster, take photos and cheer and wave flags while the Mayor nails a sign to it that the winning dock will wear for the next twelve months that says:

The Nicest Dock In Tub

And then all the boats tie up at the docks, sometimes three or four deep, gangplanks are laid from one to the other and a vast meal is laid out with every boat offering its own family specialty – smoked bluefish, crab cakes, fish stew that New England is famous for, baked beans that it’s famous for too, crusty fresh bread, all sorts of cold cuts and pickles, fried clams, lobster bisque and twenty two types of pie, cranberry, apple, rhubarb, lemon and so on.  And while people are climbing from boat to boat sampling this and sampling that all the afternoon, everybody keeps congratulating the owner of the nicest dock that year although every also has good things to say about the other docks too because each of their owners tried extra hard to win and maybe next year they would.

Then just before dark, which comes pretty late that time of year, the Mayor’s boat tows an little iron barge out into the Narrows and then a little way into Upper Bay and from that barge the fireworks that the Town of Tub has purchased in order to celebrate the Fourth of July are fired off as the town band plays from the shore.

Such a wonderful day all in all that tourists come all the way from New York or Boston in order to spend Independence Day in Tub and many more would except for the fact that the only way to get to Tub by land is to drive twenty miles over state road number 42 which keeps getting washed out by winter storms, or spring storms or summer storms and of course autumn storms.  And so if you’re going to get to Tub and don’t want everything that’s screwed on to your car shaken off or maybe get stuck in a patch of sand which got washed up the night before, the best way is to do what most people who want to get to Tub do, come by boat.

But while the Fourth Of July is really a wonderful day in Tub there is one group of Tubites which heaves a big sigh of relief when it’s all over and life can get back to normal.

The children.

The children in Tub have a different life than most kids.  They don’t have Smart Phones because there’s no cell phone towers, some have computers but Internet connections are spotty, in fact TV and electricity are spotty because the power line which powers Tub, and the TV and Internet cables, all run in on poles along the state road 42 and when the road washes out those poles might come down as well.  Teenagers also don’t have cars because all there are, are the village streets and of course the aforementioned state road 42.  They also don’t have fast food because there is no McDonalds or Burger King.  They don’t go to the Mall because there is no Mall, they do watch movies on DVD players because the Post Office gets the mail through every day one way or another.   And they go to school kindergarten through eighth grade at the Schoolhouse and 9 through 12 grade at the High School which is right next to the Schoolhouse.  But generally speaking the kids in Tub have as very different sort of life than most children.

For one thing a lot of them have ponies, biggish Dunes Ponies, descendant of horses who came ashore from a wrecked sailing ship in 1672 and have been running wild around Upper Bay ever since.  Children in Tub often tame them and ride them bareback everywhere outside the village.  But the dock contest and the several weeks of preparation leading up to it are a difficult time for the village’s children because they’re being constantly warned about not touching this or that on the docks and they aren’t allowed to bring the little bay sailboats they all own into lower bay in case they might scape something.  Their feelings are hurt too because they’d like to help their uncle or their Mom and Dad win the best dock in Tub award but the grown-ups are all so tense over the contest the kids usually have to keep to themselves sailing and paying games in upper bay.

And then on July Fourth itself the older children have to stay home and watch the littler kids and feed them dinner before the fireworks start after dark because the adults are all eating on the boats.  Although the grown-ups do make certain that there’s lots of good food already cooked and prepared for the older ones to feed the younger ones.

And even if they don’t have as good a view of them from the village the kids do enjoy the fireworks.  The rockets bursting into flowers high up in the sky, the Roman candles shooting their balls of red flames and the flying pinwheels which spin like giant sparklers.

Yet in all the years that this has been happening, maybe even all the way back to that first Fourth of July in 1776, there has been one dock that the Mayor has never looked at when he or she was judging the docks.  One dock that nobody ever thought could make them prouder than every other.

The Loading Dock.

First of all because The Loading Dock wasn’t close to the other docks.  In fact it wasn’t even in Lower bay it was in Tub’s Upper bay on the far shore.  It was built years ago when lumber was loaded onto sailing ships for transport back to England because England had pretty much cut down all its best trees.  Then later lengthened and re-lengthened after a brick factory or what you might call a huge brick kiln was built behind it where bricks were made and then for a hundred years it loaded them first on sailing ships and then in later years steamships to be taken down to where people were building lots of brick buildings in Boston and New York and Philadelphia.  So always covered in brick dust with its wooden pilings scarred by big steamships tying and mounting as it did a giant, kind of ugly, crane nobody in Tub ever thought that the Loading Dock could ever make them proud.

Which of course always hurt the Loading Dock’s feelings and just like people do when their feelings are hurt, he did his best to tell himself he didn’t care.

Besides when sea captains talked and the Loading Dock learned it was the one of the biggest docks in New England, maybe along the whole coast he was very pleased with that.  Then there was the fact that the other little pretty docks, which the Loading Dock could just barely see through the Narrows, were closed down for the winter while the Loading Dock still bustled with ships coming through the ice and up to it which meant that its giant crane was always swinging out tons and tons of brick.

So “I am” the Loading Dock thought proudly many times during those years, “the only full-time dock in Tub.  Even if the people don’t pay any attention to me on July Fourth.”

“And” he also told himself, “some day the people in Tub are going to have to notice me and when they do look they’re going to see that I’m bigger than the other docks and have more pilings and my bollards are bigger and I have lots of neatly lettered signs on me lit with lights that stay on all night and when they do that they’re going to have to finally admit that I’m a nice dock too, maybe the nicest dock in Tub and nail sign onto me too.  At least just once.”

But during the war when ships were being torpedoed out in the ocean, one right outside the entrance to Lower bay and all the young men went away to become sailors on battleships or guardsmen on Coast Guard cutters or very brave Marines, the brick factory closed.

At first the Loading Dock didn’t care about that either.  “Things will get back to normal once things get back to normal” it thought.

But things never did and as the years passed the war ended and most of the young men who left Tub came back, trees grew up around the factory building until you couldn’t even see it from the water any more and  a crew came and took down the giant crane.   Then somebody turned off the electricity to the lights on the Loading Dock and the illuminated “No Trespassing” and “Starboard Loading Only” and “Reduce Screw Speed” signs mounted all over went out.

Finally one dark winter there wasn’t even a night watchman and the Loading Dock began to worry.

Even more so in the spring when brush and brambles began to grow out from the shore along its length and the Loading Dock realized that some of its pilings were getting rotten from the wood boring worms in the salt water and it didn’t look like anyone was going to replace them like they used to.

And nobody did.

So it was then that the annual Fourth of July judging really, really began to bother him because he couldn’t even tell himself he was the only full-time dock any longer.  In fact the Loading Dock began to wish that the brush and brambles would cover him completely so that he didn’t have to be embarrassed when the Mayor’s boat and the long line of boats full of the town folk turned around in the upper bay right in front of him.

Then one year he got his wish because you couldn’t even tell the Loading Dock was there any longer.   It just looked like an immense length of brush and brambles jutting out into the upper bay.

More years passed, the brush and brambles got thicker while underneath it the Loading Dock felt many of it’s pilings drop into the water and thought sadder and sadder thoughts.  “But at least” he groaned as only a dock can really groan when the tide is moving, “I don’t have to be embarrassed every Fourth of July.”

And he wasn’t because nobody ever looked in his direction any longer.  In fact since nobody ever bothers to talk about him most of the young people didn’t even know there was a big old dock under all those bushes and trees.

But one early hot summer day the dock heard a plash and then a child’s voice close by.

“Sherry throw me the lifejacket and pick me up when you come back about” a boy was yelling.

What had happened was that a brother and sister, eleven year old Peter and nine year old Sherry Upwelling were sailing their small dinghy real close to the covered up Loading Dock and struck on of the dock’s fallen pilings floating just under the surface.  And since Peter was standing looking for the boats of the other kids they were playing with , he was tossed out when they did.

But his sister Sherry was a very good sailor even if she was only nine and Peter wasn’t worried, besides he was a very good swimmer and even though he couldn’t tell where the lifejacket had landed he knew that he could easily tread water until Sherry got up into the wind then sailed right back down.

But when Sherry was still a couple of hundred feet away and just starting to come about Peter noticed a stirring in the water between her and him and then watched the missing life jacket fly into the air.

It was probably a playful porpoise that struck the lifejacket, Peter believed because he’d seen them do things like that before.   But occasionally a large shark got into the upper bay from the ocean and that thought made him look around to see how far the shore was.

Only twenty feet, or at least there were bushes that close and thinking he could climb up and be safe there Peter swam over to the nearest and swung up.

Once out of the water Peter peered back into it.  It was a porpoise he saw when five of them roared by right under the surface.  But then he noticed something else.  He couldn’t see the bottom and he usually could in the upper bay.  So how come it’s so deep here he wondered?

Then he realized he was leaning against a piling, not the truck of a tree like he thought and he turned and peered in.

There was a game the kids of Tub played among the sandbars they never tired of.  It tub-dockwas called “Find My Boat And Try To Touch It”, kind of like tag in reverse, where instead of one person chasing everybody else, everybody chased one person and if they found them and touched their boat then everybody else had to try and find them and touch their boat after giving them a half hour to hide.  A game that sometimes went on all day because there were a lot of sandbars and boys and girls could run their boats in between the higher ones, unstep their mast and sail so it couldn’t be seen and then hide.

And this is what Peter and Sherry had been doing when they got tired of waiting for some one to find them and slipped out from between two sandbars, followed a winding passage Peter knew between dozens of others and emerged in the open thinking they’d lead every other kid’s boat in a race around the whole upper bay.

But before anybody saw them they hit the sunken piling and Peter toppled out.

Now he peered through the brush and saw a world he never knew existed.  A long, long dock that disappeared in the distance under arching branches of enormous bushes and small trees with an open shaded space down the middle where there seemed to be old railroad tracks and a cement path.

So Peter walked in.

He found a mysterious building full of rusting equipment with lots of levers, a giant steel pad where something used to be mounted, immense cast iron bollards which he knew were used to tie up big ships and lots of old lights with strange looking antique light bulbs in them.

“Wow” he said to himself, but then he heard the far off worried cry of his sister, “Peter” Sherry was shrieking, “where are you?”

Sherry had seen something hit the lifejacket too and now she had their dinghy back where Peter had fallen out and she was very worried.

“Here I am” Peter’s head poked out of the brush up above her.

“What are you doing up a tree” she angrily looked up.

“I’m not up a tree. I’m up on something else.”

“What?” Sherry stamped her foot.

“Come see.”

So Sherry tossed him the line and took Peter’s hand.

“Oh gosh” she put her hand up to her mouth when she got up there, “what’s this?”

“It’s a giant old dock.”

“Where did it come from?”

“I dunno” Peter scratched his head, “it’s just here and I guess it’s always been here and we never knew.”

“It’s so quiet” Sherry whispered when they walked most of the way down it, “and spooky.”

“Yeah” Peter grinned, “but you know what.  We can hide our dinghy here by cutting some of the brush away and running it underneath.  That way nobody would ever find us.  Ever.  Every day.”

Sherry rolled her eyes, her brother might be two years older but there were still some things he couldn’t think out for himself, “yeah” she said, “and if no one can ever find us ever, who’s ever going to want to play with us?”

Peter thought about that for a couple of minutes and “yeah” he finally shook his head up and down, “I see what you mean.  But then what should we do with it?”

So Sherry thought about that until she had an idea, “every kid in Tub is always painting their boat, aren’t they?”

“Yeah” Peter shook his head again because it was true.  The kids of Tub were just like their parents who always liked their things to look fresh and cared for and nice and whenever any kid could get their hands on a can of paint, they’d always paint their boat, “but so what?”

Sherry grinned, “well don’t our parents complain when we take our little boats out of the water, turn them over, sand them and paint them with the left over paint we get our hands on because they’re afraid we’re going to get their docks messy?  Especially just before the Fourth of July?”

“Yeah” Peter answered.

“So” Sherry put her little fists on her little hips, “since nobody seems to care about this old dock why don’t we tell all our friends they can bring their boats over here and work on them whenever they want?”

Sherry’s idea struck Peter like a thunderbolt, “of course” Peter yelled, “why didn’t I think of that?  That’s a great idea.”

So Peter and Sherry sailed back up in amongst the sandbars found all the other boys and girls and when their quite impressive little fleet of boats all got together and they were listening, they explained what they’d found.

Then all the kids sailed over to the Loading Dock, climbed through the brush where Peter had and ooohed and ahhhed over the big dock and in the following days of that early summer spent almost all their time there clearing off most of the brush.

But before they finished an eleven year old named Madeline yelled “stop” and all the kids put down their tools.

“Why did you yell stop? Sherry asked.

“It just occurred to me” Madeline scratched her head, “that if we clear all the brush everybody in the village can look over through the Narrows and see it.”

“So what?” a half dozens kids asked all at once.

“Well once they see it” Madeline explained patiently, “our parents will realize where we’ve been playing here instead of out among the sandbars where they thought we were and they might tell us not to come here any more.”

“They wouldn’t do that would they?” a little seven year old child name Cynthia asked. “I really like this dock.”

“They might” Madeline shook her head up and down.

“You’re right Madeline” Peter slowly nodded, “our parents do usually say no or stay away if they haven’t checked something out first because they’re worried about us staying safe.”

“That’s silly” little Cynthia laughed.

“No it’s not” Sherry shook her finger at Cynthia, “that’s their job.”

“Oh” Cynthia bit one finger obviously thinking about what that meant.

“So what should we do?” Peter asked

“Just leave the brush on the end I guess” Madeline shrugged, “on the one little bit of the dock you can see from the village.”

And since that sounded like such a sensible idea to all the kids, that’s what they did and once the rest of the dock was all clear of bushes and small trees they, sanded and painted almost all of their little boats on the old Loading Dock and since they still had more paint left over and it seemed like fun they painted some of the Loading Dock’s pilings.  Then wanting some shade from the hot summer sun they fixed up the roof on the old building on the Loading Dock so they could play checkers when they were tired of painting and sanding.  They even found that since the remains of the channel up to the Loading Dock gave them such deep water they could dive off and pretend that they were Olympic divers.  They also discovered that the Loading Dock was a good place to fish from or play regular tag on.

In fact the Loading Dock was just a lot of fun for the boys and girls of Tub in any number of ways and they were so glad that Peter and Sherry found it and that Madeline suggested they keep the end of it, the one part of the old Loading Dock that could be seen from the village, hidden.

Then the Fourth of July was almost there.

And the Loading Dock was very sad.  It liked people paying attention to it again because it had been ignored and ignored for so many years.  And it liked the sounds of children laughing while they dived off or played tag or played checkers but it was exposed again and embarrassed again and worried that the once the townspeople came into the upper bay on the Fourth they’d see by the end and laugh at its pilings painted different colors like a circus dock.  So the Loading Dock decided that it would do its best that winter when the ice filled the lower and upper bays to just give in and fall down.  “I don’t want to be around anymore, anymore” it groaned.

“What was that” Peter stopped painting his dinghy for about the third time since they’d found the dock, “I heard something?”

“I dunno” his sister Sherry looked up too, “it sounded like the dock was groaning.”

“And it sounded really sad” Peter whooshed and Sherry nodded.

But before they could think about that little Cynthia said, “I’m sad too” and both Peter and Sherry looked at her in surprise.


“Well” Cynthia dabbed at a tear, “I’ve been thinking about what Sherry said and what Peter said about parents and I don’t think it’s right that we’re keeping the dock we found a secret from them.”

“Oh that’s silly” Peter said but the moment he said it he knew he was wrong because every day when he came home for dinner and his Mom and Dad asked him how his day went he felt guilty about not telling them about the dock they’d found.  Then he looked at Sherry and saw she was nodding.

“Cynthia’s right Peter” she sighed, “unless it’s a surprise you’re planning for them, like something you’ve made for their birthday or Christmas it’s not right to keep any secrets from your parents.  Especially parents like ours who never fuss and pry but just expect us to be honest with them.”

Then all three children were sad together not only because they knew they had to tell their parents about the dock they’d found because it looked like they let their parents down.

But then a friend named Matt who was following the conversation while painting his boat next to Peter and Sherry’s suddenly threw down his brush, “hey guys, I just had a great idea of my own.”

“What’s that?” Peter and Sherry both asked.

“Do what Sherry said and make the dock a surprise.”

“What like we’re giving it to one of our parents for a birthday present” asked Peter very puzzled.

“NO” Matt shouted so excited he could barely get the words out “make it a surprise entry for the dock judging contest.  We’ve got it all nearly painted and fixed up haven’t we?  And tomorrow’s the Fourth of July isn’t it?”

“But” Peter thought of a big objections, “kids never entered a dock in the contest before, only adults.”

“Well then” Matt was still shouting, “THAT’S THE SURPRISE!  If we sneak out here in our own little boats with all our younger brothers and sisters when all the adults are out in the ocean getting ready to turn around  and we cut down the last of the brush and quickly painted the last of the pilings then when they turned around in the upper bay we could hold a big sign up that said surprise.”

“We’d never win the contest” Peter looked around at all the different colors of paint the kids had slapped on or the boards nailed every which was on the old building, “because I don’t think this dock it looks like their idea of what a dock should look like.”

“WHO CARES” Sherry was shouting now, “because when they see how hard we’ve worked and how proud we are of our dock they probably won’t tell us not to play on it and we’ll be able to come back here every day.”

But Sherry could see that Peter was still doubtful and she tapped one little finger against her chin thinking until she thought of something else, “and you know what else Peter.”


“If we bring all the littler kids, our brothers and sisters and little cousins and all the food they might just let us stay on the dock until after it gets dark and we’ll have a much better view of the fireworks.”

And that decided Peter and he shouted, “okay let’s do it.”

Then Sherry threw down her own brush, “yippee” she yelled, “let’s tell the other boys and girls.  But if we do something like taking our younger brothers and sisters over here too we have to make sure that we do it right.”

“What do you mean?” Matt and Peter asked.

“Well for one thing” Sherry put her little fists on her little hips, “if we’re going to sail over here with them we have to make sure all the younger ones have life jackets tied on.  The we have to bring their little toys and changes of clothes and watch them like hawks so they don’t fall off the dock.”

“That’s right” Peter and Matt nodded their heads, “but if we do do it right, we’ll have the best fourth of July ever.”

“No, no, no” the Loading Dock wanted to say to them, “please don’t enter me in the contest.  Not looking like this.  Like a circus dock.”

But the kids couldn’t hear him or if they did hear some extra groans out of the dock, they didn’t know what it meant.

Then the next day, the Fourth of July, everything was ready for the judging.  Every fishing boat in the village was sparkling clean, every dock glistened with new paint and all the adults filed onto the boats and sailed after the Mayor who this year happened to be the Postmistress of Tub, a grandmother named Alice Jib.

And when they were out at sea getting ready to come back in and start the judging all the kids in Tub, carrying the little ones who couldn’t swim or sail yet, grabbed the lunches that their mothers had prepared for them, jumped into their little dinghys, skiffs, sailboats and flat bottomed rowboats with sails and sailed over to the Loading Dock in the upper bay.

Then Alice Jib, started her judging and carefully examined the paint of each dock in the lower bay, its carpentry, its iron parts and brass and the color of the bands around the pilings and she leaned back and thought very, very hard about how proud each dock made the people of Tub feel when they looked at it.

An hour later she finished and still trying to make up her mind about which thing about which dock the people of Tub could be proudest of when she signaled the captain of the boat she was on to proceed to the upper bay so that the long line of boats behind next to them could turn around once more.  Then she put her head down and studied her notes again even harder because all the docks were very well prepared this year, and a lot of things about them would make people very proud when they looked at them.  But she didn’t know which one to pick.  Does the dock with the best white paint make people the proudest when they look at it?  The one with the best iron parts?  Maybe the one with the best matching trim paint was the one thing about a dock that made people prouder than anything else?

And the more she thought about it the more she thought she was missing something important and she checked and checked her notes.  But what can make people really proud is sometimes a very tough thing to figure out just from notes and it wasn’t very long before Alice Jib began to wonder if her running for mayor that year was a big, big mistake.

Meanwhile they sailed up through the Narrows, turned around and headed back towards the lower bay and stopped for some reason.

“Why are we stopped” Alice Jib looked up from her notes annoyed.

“Because none of the other boats are following us” the captain pointed over his shoulder.

Sure enough, all the other boats, the dozens and dozens of fishing boats and lobster boats packed with all the adults of Tub, and even some tourists, were still in the upper bay clustered around something while the people on board laughed at clapped or took pictures or shouted.

“What are they looking at” Alice Jib indignantly asked the captain.

“I don’t know” the captain shrugged.

“Well then turn around again and find out” Alice Jib demanded.

So they sailed back into the upper bay and wound there way through all the other boats until Alice Jib saw something she would never have imagined in a thousand years.

It was the old Loading Dock she remembered from childhood, now cleared of all it’s brush.  The crane was gone and a lot of pilings were missing but those that were still there were each painted a different color, red, green, white, purple, orange and pink and sometimes the pilings were painted two or three different clashing colors like whoever had painted it ran out of one color and then had to go to another.  But in a crazy quilt sort of way the rainbows of colors matched the red, green, white, purple, orange and pink colors of the several score of little boats belonging to the children of Tub all tied up around it.

But what most surprised Alice Jib was that all around and on the Loading Dock were the children themselves, all the children of Tub who she thought were still in the village.  And they were holding up a big sign that said surprise, waving flags in honor of the Fourth of July and a lot of the kids had their faces and hands smeared with the same color paints as the pilings and boats and some them were diving off the end of the dock and then with a big catch of her heart Alice saw something else that they were doing at the same time.

Taking care of each other.

The older ones were feeding the littler children and making sure that they didn’t get sunburned or get too close to the edge of the dock and fall in and the littler ones were holding the tiny hands of the toddlers and making certain they got enough to eat and drink and didn’t fall in or get sunburned either.  In fact every one of them was in some way helping each other have fun and stay safe and have the best Fourth of July ever which showed of course, that they were all very proud of the old dock they’d tried to fix up as a surprise for their mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

“And my, my what a dock” she mumbled to no one in particular and when Alice Jib looked closer and saw her own laughing, smiling grandchildren among the children helping each other have a good time that Fourth of July she realized she was so proud of what she was looking at too, that she thought she was going to burst.

So with tears in her eyes she peered down at her notes about paint and pilings and shiny brass and iron parts and nice carpentry and dropped them to the deck.  Then she walked to the prow of the boat she was on, climbed up where everybody could see her and shouted.


And everybody on all the boats and all the children on the Loading Dock stopped talking or laughing or shouting and looked at her.

“I want to announce this year’s winner.  Then she nodded to the captain who nudged the boat over to the end of the Loading Dock and Alice Jib stood up straighter holding some nails between her determined lips and with a big hammer nailed the sign to the dock saying:

The Nicest Dock In Tub

Then the kids laughed, all the boats captains blew their boat horns and the people shouted “yes you’re right, that’s it, it isn’t the paint or nice iron work or shiny brass on a dock that makes us the proudest it’s what out our wonderful children can do when they set their minds to it and how much fun they can have and how well they look after their little brothers and sisters and cousins and neighbors.”

So when the sun set the adults piled onto to the Loading Dock and sat shoulder to shoulder with their arms with their children and watched the fireworks.  Then when the show was over they quietly boarded all their boats again trying not to waken the littler ones who had fallen asleep in the mother’s and father’s and grandmother’s and grandfather’s and big sister’s and big brother’s arms and sailed back through the quiet summer night to the village.

And as midnight approached and the last few seconds of that year’s Fourth of July slipped away, the tide turned and the deserted Loading Dock groaned so loudly but so happily, that it sounded like he was trying to get up out of the water and take a bow.