Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sum, sum, summertime!

It’s summertime! Vacation time! Everybody’s favorite time of the year! (Except, of course, for Christmas time, which is everybody’s OTHER favorite time of the year!)

Most all of my best memories from my youth seem to have occurred in the summertime. Smatterofact, I think I’ve repressed most of the other months of my youth -- the school months – because getting up early each morning and being forced to sit still and quiet through the drudgery of classes all day long was not my idea of a good time when I was nine.

But I definitely remember summertime.

Right now, this week, millions of schoolkids are finishing up for the year, and getting ready to spend the next dozen weeks creating their own summertime memories.

It’s sad to say, but there’s not a chance that their computer games and online adventures will match up to our sandlot baseball games, bicycle rides, and afternoon swims in the lake.

Since its summertime, and I’m on vacation, I shouldn’t have any homework… such as writing this column! So instead, I’m just going to sit here and remember some random stuff from the summertimes of years gone by:

-- On Sunday afternoons, we churned ice cream. It was hand-cranked in the early years! I remember making peach, banana, strawberry, vanilla and lemon. The bag of ice required a special trip to the ice-plant – where they would crush a big block of ice for you -- because there wasn’t bagged ice for sale at every corner convenience store. (Come to think of it, there weren’t even any convenience stores.)

-- We didn’t have air conditioning… but we had an attic fan, and it cooled us pretty good at night time. We also had screen doors which let the breeze in. The screen door always had a coiled, metal spring, which made it SLAP closed. You could hear anybody coming into the house. We didn’t lock it, we “latched” it. (Growing up on Main Street in Lexington, SC, I don’t recall the doors to our house or car EVER being locked!)

-- The screen in the screen door was for keeping flies and gnats out… but invariably, a few would slip in. So the fly swatter was always handy. The fly swatter also occasionally doubled as a disciplinary device.

-- I spent a lot of outdoor time at “the spicket”. Many times a day, I would turn it on and cup my hands under it for a quick slurp of water. Or, better yet, I would attach it to the garden hose, and connect the sprinkler to the other end. It’s possible the sprinkler at our house was used for watering the lawn or garden… but if it was, I didn’t know about it. I used it for pure recreation. Turn it on, and spend an hour running through the streams of water shooting into the air.

-- If I was indoors and I needed a drink, there were two choices for kids: tap water, and for special occasions, Kool-aid! The beverages were most often served in jelly jar glasses – not the ones with screw on lids (we weren’t hillbillies!!!), but the kind with the snap off lids that doubled as drinking glasses when the jelly was all gone. Those jelly glasses were the fine china at our house. To chill our drinks, there were ice cubes, made in aluminum ice trays in the freezer. Each tray made a couple dozen cubes, and the rule of the house required that you refill the tray with tap water after you used it, so the next batch of ice cubes would have time to freeze.

-- Other than the sprinkler, the major form of recreation was apparently “swinging”. Back yards in the 50’s and 60’s seemed to automatically include a swing set (some even had a sliding board)… but those couldn’t compare to the tire swings hanging down from sturdy tree branches… or, occasionally, a Tarzan swing. The best swing of all was the rope swing that swung out over the lake, so you could let go and splash in.

-- Evening recreation and entertainment consisted mainly of chasing fireflies. Except on Wednesday nights, when it was free movie night as the U.S. 1 Drive In movies… and I lived practically across the street… within walking distance!

Ah, summertime: A neighborhood sandlot baseball game every morning. Swimming in the lake every afternoon. And bicycle riding in between… anywhere I wanted to go.

I hope the kids today have a summer half as good as the ones I remember.

No comments: