SummerTime and the Living WAS Easy
Jun 12, 2012
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When I was much younger, Summer was a rite of passage and a season filled with memories. There was the annual trip to Six Flags, with all of the cousins piled in the backseat of the Buick, and of course no air conditioning, so the windows were down the whole way. We were stuck to each other with sweat along with sticking to the seat, but who cared, we were going to Six Flags. The sights we would see and the rides we would ride were all that could be discussed for the almost 3 hour tour to get there. Of course it is not supposed to take that long, but when you have to stop and pick up additional aunts and cousins; get the discount tickets the day of the trip and of course stop for gasoline, well that adds to the time in the car. Of course the ride back was always a lot quieter, because of the tired kids in the backseat, some asleep and others looking out of the window as cars and time flew by. Oh if we had only known then what we know today.
There are other things that are Summer to me. Getting out of 6th grade back in the early 70's and from a small school we didnt have 6th grade Graduation like they have now. We were just let out of school, and the amount of excitement was equal between the anticipation of the last bell ringing for the season as much for us as the teachers.
We had a really neat teacher one year that gave us our folders that she had for everyone in her class, and at the end of the year, we got to have our friends sign our folder. We felt just like the Seniors getting their Yearbooks signed. Of course there was the standard, stay sweet, and stay just as nice as you are, and such, but my favorites were the more creative ones. Like U Me = Friends 4 Ever.
I dont remember who wrote that, so much for being friends forever. But I wish I had my folder so I could go back to that day and feel the excitement I felt of being outside and asking for people to sign it, just as if I were seeking autographs from celebs. Seems funny now but it was serious business then.
Catching lightning bugs in a glass jar and poking holes in the top and then putting pieces of grass inside so they wouldnt get hungry was always a Summer thing.
Making Homemade Ice Cream in a freezer that had to be turned. Having to have someone sit on the top of the freezer and always making sure there was enough rock salt around. Of course there was always the discussion of what to put on top of it, Hershey Syrup or fresh peaches or strawberries. I still love mine just plain Vanilla with lots of the Vanilla flavoring in it, and ice cold. I havent bought any Hershey Syrup in many years, but the smell comes rushing back to memory just as if it were yesterday. It was an elixer that was as decadent as it could be. Man, I loved that stuff. And there was BOSCO too. Bosco was usually reserved for Chocolate Milk. Again, it had to be ICE cold and whole milk in a large glass.
My dad was in the military, and I have a brother and a sister, both older than I. So when they were younger, Daddy was in the service and they got to travel through Europe. Well, when I came along, we were here, so I was taken on vacation State side. It was a big deal to get to go on vacation. He took Mother and I to Washington DC and all up the Eastern Seaboard. We went to Canada. We went to every state between here and Canada. We visited a lot of Historical places and I got to take the White House tour. This was when President Nixon was in office. At that time you didnt have all of the security measures that are in place now, and I got to see President Nixon in a window putting on his cufflinks. We were on Penn Avenue, actually outside the gate, but there was just a little bit of movement in the window in the East Wing, and sure enough, through the lens of Daddys binocculars, I saw the President. What a thrill. I was 12.
Of course also during the Summer season another year was the Watergate Trial, so the rest is history so to speak.
That was the year that nothing seemed to be on television except that. No I Love Lucy or anything good like that. Makes for a long summer when there is not much on tv.
Or the Summer Olympics was always on. Again, not much for a kid to watch, but thats what the bicycle and the dog and the hula hoop were for. Or roller skates. Or springy shoes. I dont know if it was just something "homemade" or it they were sold in stores, but we had a pair of "springy shoes" that were just what they said. You could spring on them and it made walking difficult, but once you got past the scraped knees and skinned hands it was fun.
There is no commercial Lemonade that tastes like Aunt Myrtles. She made it with the right amount of lemons and sugar and some how got it so cold that the glass would sweat in envy of what it was holding. Man, what I would give for some of her Lemonade.
Barbers Milk had a milkman that would make deliveries to her house when I was a kid. So as a special treat when I was spending the night with her and her daughter Cindy, she would leave a note out for the Milkman to leave us some ORANGE ADE drink. I dont know if they have it in all states, but if not, you should request it. I have seen it in the stores recently, but I dont think it tastes as strong as it did when I was a kid. May be that my tastebuds are not as sensitive as they used to be, or maybe because we were not exposed to a lot of drinks like we are now. But it was some good stuff.
Also Summer meant going to Gadsden to Noccalooa Falls.
It was a shorter drive and they had picnic areas and cold spray would come off of the falls if you stood close enough. You didnt have to pay to go to the park, nor to play amongst the spring loaded childrens rides that were there. You could ride a rocking horse or a pig or a spotted mouse. It was wonderful.
There was always an ice cream truck around. The sound of the bells and the same song going on and on over and over again, but it was worth whatever change I could gather to get a FudgeCicle. Frozen solid. Hard to bite. But so good.
When I went to my grandmothers house, she would be outside usually in her garden. They raised a lot of vegetable and of course she had her flowers. I didnt take a lot of time to appreciate the hard work that she put into raising the crops that we all shared in, but what I would give now to tell her thank you. Thank you for raising corn and beans and tomatoes and all of the things that were mixed and mashed together to make soup mix by the gallons and then put in freezer bags and boxes. Soup mix. The staple of the winter months. That and hot cornbread with a glass of milk. Food of the best type and raised right there in Alexandria.
My Aunt Gladys would make me a shorts outfit every summer too. I can still hear the sound of her sewing scissors cutting cloth on a wooden table. The very thought of that sound echoes in my ear and I can almost go back to a very distinct time and place in my head. She smoked Salems, and sometimes I think I smell cigarette smoke and feel like a kid again.
There was always seed catalogs at the relatives houses. No matter where in the county you went, to either side of the family, someone had a Burpee catalog. Or a Moorse-Ferry seed catalog. I would look at those pages and stare at the colors of the peppers and tomatoes and dream of one day having a space of my own to grow every color of the rainbow.
Its summertime again here in Alabama. Not as much red dirt and chirt roads as there used to be. Not as much space for toad frogs and bull frogs and lightning bugs to roam but its still Summer in the South. And even though I am older, and wish I could say wiser, its still the most wonderful place to be, to me, because its home and its my roots.
Its where my Mother and Father were raised and where they spent their youth and their parents before them. So when you go outside and sit on your porch or in your swing this summer, take time to think about how you got to where you are in this world.
I do and I am so thankful for the life I have been granted, hot summer weather and all.