Saturday, June 30, 2012


We didn't have air conditioning when I was growing up - at least not in our own home.  It had been invented (in case my kids are reading).  We lived in the basement.  Slightly damp but cool we watched Hogan's Heroes, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies and any other sitcom reruns that played between noon and 3pm, the hottest part of the day.

July's Tomato Haul
July's Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)
We visited my grandpa on his residential farm.  He had farmed most his life and couldn't seem to give it up.  He bought a couple of acres next to his ranch split level and planted rows and rows of corn and tomatoes, peppers and squash.  My grandfather would bring us kids in to the house and set us up with small juice glasses of Coke over ice.  It was the only time I really drank soda as a kid and I wished during every visit that his hand would move over just a little to the left and bring down the tall tumblers for our drinks.  We never left his home with less than two bushels of whatever was ripe.  Later at home my mom would can the tomatoes and cut the corn from the cob to freeze.  We'd eat as much as we could fresh but there was always too much.  She'd work furiously to get the veggies "put up" before they started to turn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I remember sitting on the steps waiting for a breeze, playing in sprinklers, and drinking from the hose.  We had an above ground pool at two of our homes.  They were small but perfect for 10 year olds and great for keeping cool. Our vacations were always car trips to visit family, usually in New York or weekends camping.  We didn't have many organized camps or activities.  Our summers were a long, slow parade of tv shows, juice popsicles, and car rides, which by the way, also had no air conditioning.  It was windows rolled down, wind whipping our hair and deafening the space inside the car.

Sometimes summer was about bike ramps, races, being pushed off my bike and into the rosebushes, or having our bikes stolen.  It was about going to my friends house who had air conditioning and a turntable with 45's and listening to Eleanor Rigby.  Or it was about babysitting for the neighbor next door and wishing I could leave when the boyfriend came over and they started fighting.  It was witnessing the boys on the block slowly turn into tough guys, with their own little "chop shop" for stolen bikes (see above).

Summer is relaxed, the routines, the schedule, the demands are all a little loose.  The parental reins go slack.  Maybe it's just dozing at the beach while the kids bury each other in the sand.  Or maybe it's a few more hours of home alone time.  Or maybe it's the permission to go on their bike by themselves, around the block, or to the library, or across town.  Summer is adventure and exploration and sometimes a little danger. 

My boys joke that you can tell if you had a good summer by the number of scrapes and cuts on your knees.  Good or bad I'm not sure, but summer does seem to be a mix of juice pops and scrapes of one kind or another.
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  1. What about my strongest memory or picking eating and jamming so that we could have a full school year of pb&j sandwiches.

  2. I absolutely thought about the strawberries and the bumpy, dusty rides in the farm school bus to the patch. Technically though, strawberries are picked in IN before 6/21, the actual day summer starts. Sorry to get so legalistic :).

  3. Your boys are right--a high number of scrapes definitely equate to a good summer! Great post :)

  4. Summertime is the time for kids to have fun in the sun. Nothing else to think about.

  5. OK eltee, I'm supposed to be cleaning up the kitchen and instead, i've gotten drawn in sitting here reading your blog! I LOVE this post. I think AC changes the shape, feel and speed of summer and try to keep it off when I can (although 100+ degrees we're seeing lately is a challenge for even me). your dusty summer memories sound just like mine. aah. the nostalgia!

    1. It's fun every once in awhile to just do that stream of conscience type writing. I love to see what memories come trickling out. The kitchen will still be there right?