6.21.2006

First day of summer!

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the first day of summer!

Sandals, frappucinos, air conditioning, picnics in the park, long days of glorious sunshine, sticky necks, and all!

I prefer the spring and fall weather, but summer seems the most different to me, and is therefore special. Probably because of all of those years of summer vacation.

On the other hand, people ask me what I'm doing "this summer" or what my "summer plans" are and I say, "Working." What else? I'm a grown-up now, people! Summer is like the rest of the year, except hotter.

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Go here and read Jo at Leery Polyp's memories of summer.

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What do you remember about summer? If you've always meant to leave me a comment and haven't, here's your chance!

I remember the following, mostly from the summers until I was thirteen or fourteen. (After that, it was different because I no longer spent the summer at my grandparents' house in California although I still went out for a few weeks each summer until I started college.)
  • packing a little suitcase with markers and coloring books and whatever other possessions were dearest to me that summer (My mother: "You can only take what you can fit in that suitcase.")
  • arriving at my grandparents' home and seeing that everything looked and smelled exactly as it had the year before, even though I had grown
  • going to "Camp Enjoy It" (oh, the irony!) and realizing with each year that I hated it more and more--mostly I hated the games on the grass. The silly songs were okay and the art projects were great. But, my God, how much I hated Red Rover and whatever else we had to play. (See "Embracing the Nerd Within" if that doesn't make sense to you.) I remember that one girl said that she was allergic to grass and couldn't play. I think she also didn't like the games, but I never said I was allergic to grass. No sirree! I had morals even then.
  • making necklaces out of Fruit Loops at camp before Fruit Loops were kosher, and not eating them. (Or maybe we made necklaces out of some other cereal or candy if Fruit Loops were always kosher? Not sure. That part didn't bother me as much as the forced athletics, though.)
  • Pringles and tuna salad for dinner
  • going to Bergmann's Department Store and buying googley eyes (from the craft department), water guns, and sparkly rings
  • going to Midtown Pharmacy and buying Fireballs and having contests to see who could keep them in their mouths longest
  • taking art and science classes at the Junior Museum
  • picnics in Mitchell Park
  • rolling down the grassy hill at Mitchell Park
  • going to Midtown Pharmacy and furtively buying makeup that I wasn't allowed to wear (or didn't think I was allowed to wear). I specifically remember purchasing sparkly peach-scented lip gloss. That smell always reminds me of being twelve or fourteen or however old I was.
  • hash browns for breakfast
  • pancakes for breakfast
  • stacking up old shingles to take camping (for firewood)
  • fishing in Foothills Park, both before and after they ruined it (that won't mean anything to you unless you went fishing there in the early 1980s)
  • seeing deer as we drove out of Foothills Park
  • picking blackberries by the creek, trying to avoid "stickers" and burrs and going home and eating the blackberries, still warm from the sun...mmmmmm!
  • barbecuing out back
  • driving down to LA (6 hour car ride), and smelling the garlic as we drove through Gilroy
  • taking short trips from LA to San Diego (Sea World! the zoo!), Las Vegas, and Bryce and Zion National Parks
  • roasting marshmallows out back
  • grill cheese for lunch (the real way, in a frying pan, not in the toaster oven like we made it at home)
  • watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy
  • drinking large quantities of pop (as my Midwestern-native grandparents called it)
  • trying not to throw up in the car on the way to Santa Cruz
  • trying not to throw up on the "Hurricane" in Santa Cruz after MLG paid me a dollar to ride with her so she wouldn't have to ride alone
  • throwing up in the car on the way back from Santa Cruz, thus incurring my grandfather's wrath
  • buying YM ("Young Miss," then, before it became "Young and Modern") at Safeway and sneaking it into the house because I was sure my mother wouldn't want me reading such trash (again, not sure if my mother would have cared, but I was sure she would so I would go to great lengths to sneak the magazines in)
  • having to go to bed when it was still light out
  • hearing crickets at night
  • riding bikes at Allen Court (a cul-de-saq near my grandparents' house)
  • sticking cloves of garlic into the raw brisket
  • the smell of gasoline around my grandfather's old cars (beautiful old cars, but old cars nonetheless)
That's all I remember for now. Reading over all of that, it doesn't seem so magical, but it was or at least I want to remember it that way.

Part of that may be that I was in a different place than I was all year and the rules of the house were very different. There was less questioning of authority (my grandparents being of the "children should be seen and not heard" generation) and more eating of ice cream and candy and soda.

What are your summer memories?

2 comments:

Refugee from Reason said...

But what about egg creams from Leon's?

alg's dad said...

Now that my computer is, at least for now, working again, I'll post a comment here. I didn't spend summers in the same place when I was growing up for as many years as you did when you were growing up. But my main summer memories come from Putnam Acres, a bungalow colony in Putnam County, NY, where we rented a house during the summers when I was 7, 8, 9, and 10, in 1957-1960.
Picking blackberries, in August, is also one of my fondest memories. They grew in a big empty field nearby which has long since been subdivided. We also picked blueberries in July, which grew on bushes in the same field, and strawberries in June, which grew on our front lawn. The blueberries and strawberries were much smaller than the ones they sell in supermarkets, but were very sweet. There were also bushes with black-colored berries that looked very much like blueberries, but were called "bear berries" and were supposed to be poisonous. I wouldn't have dared to taste one. Years later, I read that there is a variety of blueberry that is black in color, and isn't poisonous at all--I don't know if this is true.
In September, we sometimes drove up up to Putnam Acres for the weekend, even after school started, and then we would pick grapes that grew in what I guess was an abandoned vinyard in back of our house. The grapes were dark purple, and extremely sour, but my mother used to make jam out of them. She also sometimes made blackberry jam, I think, but mostly we just ate the blackberries raw.
I went to day camp at Three Arrows, another bungalow colony right next to Putnam Acres. But in Three Arrows, people owned their houses, and it is still there. It is mentioned in a chapter by Daniel Bell, on page 69 of Howard Simons' book "Jewish Times: Voices of the American Jewish Experience" (Houghton-Mifflin, 1988). I also didn't particularly like the forced athletics, in this case softball, and I spent plenty of time daydreaming far in right field, hoping the ball wouldn't come anywhere close to me. I loved the hikes, though, and I learned to swim there, in Barger Pond. I also learned to row a boat on Barger Pond.
We had sleepouts on top of the hill of Three Arrows, near the water tower. We would roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire, and sit around, as the embers burned down, singing songs like "If I Had a Hammer," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "Down by the Riverside," and "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore." I remember my counselor, Richie Stolper, telling us that if you tried to put more than 34 feet of water in the water tower, it would just fall down, leaving a vacuum on top. I had never heard that before, and thought it was really amazing. Richie also made a scale model of Three Arrows, using a topological map, dowels cut to different lengths, a screen mesh shaped so it fit on top of the dowels, plaster of paris applied to the top of the mesh, green paint, bits of sponge for trees, and toy houses. (Richie, I heard later, became blind from diabetes, then became a successful junior high school teacher, and died only a few years ago when he was 60.)
Three Arrows was started by socialists, and, as I have told you before, Norman Thomas, for many decades the head of the US Socialist Party, used to come there every summer and speak to everyone in the big social hall.