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Hugh wrote:
 
> Agreed - now the real question is "What is that age?".
> For me, it was a 7th grade career project.  I chose Oceanography,
> not because of any TV celebrity, but because of my oldest brother
> who was working for a marine research center driving ships and
> that was "neat stuff".
 
Hmmm, I think I'm about to shock some younger folks or at least amuse them.
I grew up in S. Florida and water was a major part of my life from the
beginning.  Some time before I was 6, in the early 1950's, we went on
vacation at a low cost hotel on Miami Beach.  The lifeguard at the motel had
a mask and I worked out a deal with him to wash down the deck each morning
in return for being allowed to use that mask in the salt water pool at the
motel.  Nobody I knew had a mask, but I got one a year or so later.  It was
a large mask with twin snorkels attached, complete with the baskets and ping
pong balls.  Like most kids, I did not realize we we didn't have a lot of
money, but spending vacations at a local motel and the financial burden that
mask represented to my parents suggests we were.  As I recall, it was as
large as my head.  I can't follow my progression from that point to being
certified, but am sure that was the start.  After years of snorkeling, I got
my first scuba instruction from a YMCA instructor.  No certification card
was issued.  Seven years later, in 1969, prompted by occasional requests for
a certification card when getting my tanks filled, I got my first
certification card from the manager of the pool where I worked as a
lifeguard/swimming instructor.  I can't swear to it, but my recollection is
that the manager that gave me my card was the same man who, so many years
earlier had loaned me that mask that first opened the underwater world to
me.  Needless to say, that man holds a special place in my mind and heart.
 
Lee