Summertime Memories

Not long ago, this artwork showed up in one of our city parks:

Five kids playing

Five kids playing

It’s fenced off, likely an effort to keep real kids from destroying playing with statues that cost the taxpayers some money, but doesn’t it capture perfectly the lazy, enjoyable days of summers past?

I’m one of the lucky ones. I grew up in the years before computers and cell phones became MUST HAVES in the minds of kids as well as adults.

Without those “distractions,” we had to come up with other ways to spend our time. And we were plenty creative!

Some days, we’d “play school,” drawing on a chalkboard. Other days, we’d put some music on and dance ’til we collapsed in fits of giggles. We’d play with Barbie dolls, dressing them up and inventing interesting scenarios for them to deal with. We’d play board games or Jacks, seated on our cool front porch; we’d gather with neighbor kids for softball, kick ball, or kick the can; we’d roller skate throughout the neighborhood. We’d walk or ride bikes to the swimming pool or tennis courts.

Folks didn’t lock their front doors or cars then. Nor did they particularly worry their kids would get hauled off by strangers. We played outside until dark, catching lightning bugs in jars or counting stars in a clear sky.

Every year, I’d start a new “novel,” written on lined note paper with a pencil and held together with a colored ribbon through the holes. I didn’t think of it as a talent; I thought all kids did stuff like that.

Some years, we went to camp (typically music camp), where we were challenged to learn something new and meet new people.

And the food — oh, that was heavenly! Ice cream, taffy, ice-cold soda, frozen candy bars, watermelon, corn on the cob, fresh green beans and tomatoes from our own garden. Stuff we didn’t get on a regular basis at other times of the year.

In August, when stores brought out their Back-to-School merchandise and the county fair rolled into town, we knew summer was winding down and real school was just around the corner. Not that I minded so much; in fact, I remember being eager to see my friends again and smell the scents of crayons, pencils, and new books.

What are some of your favorite summertime memories?

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20 thoughts on “Summertime Memories

  1. Oh Debbie, what a delightful read! It brought back SO MANY wonderful memories for me and my own childhood.

    “Some days, we’d “play school,” drawing on a chalkboard. We’d play board games or Jacks, And the food — oh, that was heavenly! remember being eager to see my friends again and smell the scents of crayons, pencils, and new books.”

    Yes, to ALL of those!

    And it’s funny because I was just talking on the phone last night with my nephews wife and we were speaking about one of the great things about summer and PICNIC food – hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, potato salad, popsicles, and the smell of a barbecue. Yummy!

    One of my favorite summertime memories was when the city firemen would open the fire hydrants on the streets so that we kids could run through them and cool off from the heat. What a blast that was!

    FUN post, my friend!

    • Picnic food — YES!! I loved that, and with so many nice summer days to enjoy it, we surely did! Ron, I love your memory of the fire hydrants. I’ve seen photos of that on TV in the larger cities, and the kids always look like they’re having a blast (adults, too!).

      It’s funny, but I suspect lots of folks would have a problem carrying coleslaw and potato salad to picnics nowadays — too many concerns over salmonella, I suppose. But you know, I don’t remember ever hearing of that when I was a kid!

      Glad you stopped by and enjoyed, my dear. Have a splendid weekend!!

  2. Debbie, One of my best memories is back when we were living in Queens. My street was filled with kids and we’d stay out late playing Simon Says and Mother, May I on the street. The Good Humor or Mister Softie trucks would come by and we’d beg our mothers for a dime to get an ice cream. There was also a huge truck with an amusement park ride on its bed and we’d climb aboard and squeal with delight as the ride sent us high up in the air. Those were the days.

    • What wonderful memories, Monica! It still surprises me when I think of how much more we’re paying today than we paid then! I guess it’s all relative — with salaries steadily climbing, nobody seems to mind paying more and getting less. Those ice creams and milkshakes from the ice cream trucks were the BEST! What ever happened to Mister Softie anyway?!

    • We played baseball, too, and enjoyed it. A lot. Especially since the adults weren’t around to hover and micro-manage, and we kids had to resolve our own differences!!

  3. Popsicles! Riding horses, swimming and listening to adults talk on the patio as dusk turned to night. I never wanted to go back to school and from an early age believed school supplies were false advertising. :-D. Nice walk down memory lane.

    • Ooh, you had horses?? Mind if I say I’m just pea-green over that? My sis and I always wanted a horse (and obviously, never got one. Sigh.)
      I’d forgotten popsicles. Why we never got those in any other season but summer is a mystery to me! And I had to giggle over your “listening to adults talk on the patio” statement — guilty here, too!
      You didn’t care for school? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — perhaps you needed a Waldorf education, something that would zero in on your interests?!!

  4. You pretty much captured it. The heart of it was that we had a chance to learn to use our imaginations, enjoy freedom responsibly, and push against the limits of the world while still having fun.

    if I were a parent today, the one thing I would do for my kids is model the kind of life you wrote about here. Instead of whining about how kids spend all their time with their devices, I’d limit my use of them, turn off the tv and netflix, and get outdoors with them. We’d ride bicycles barefoot and unhelmeted, eat real ice cream, get real books from the library, and read them in the shade of a tree.

    Since I don’t have kids of grandkids, I’ll just have to keep doing those things for myself. I refuse to live in the world of electronic gadgets, malls, and constant fear that’s being foisted on us. So there!

    • Linda, you are so right — learning to use our imaginations was key. There are whole days now where I have to unplug and do something else, a mini-vacation, if you will. Staring at a computer or smartphone for hours on end can’t be good for anybody!

      I so love your description of a perfect day — riding bikes without helmets, eating ice cream, reading real books beneath a shade tree. Life passes far too quickly not to enjoy the simpler things. And you know, that “fear that’s being foisted on us” can, if we’re not careful, consume us completely, making it next to impossible to move or think independently. What a waste!

    • Hi, and Welcome! Glad you found me and enjoyed this post. You’re right — we do live in a different world, but I can’t help thinking that exposing our kids to some of the wonderful things we grew up with can enrich their world, too ;)

  5. Debbie, you took me right back to those lovely days. I remember it all. It’s kind of sad to think of modern-day kids missing out on all those non-virtual good times.

    • Glad you were able to relate — and enjoy, Jann. Thanks as always for stopping by. I guess we live in a different world now, but I for one am glad I grew up when I did!

  6. I looked forward to spending two weeks with my grandmother every summer.

    Kids should be outside in the summer…not inside on a game. My 5 year old granddaughter was raised as a toddler to use electronic devices. When she was visiting with me this weekend…. she just played on her tablet. What happen to interaction with others?
    Playing outside is what I and my own children did in the summer. The next generation….??? Local parks used to be packed….I drive by the parks now and they are much less full.
    I guess that’s why that display at the park you posted is a reminder of what kids used to do LOL!

    • Thanks for verifying what kids USED to do, Tanya! You’re so right — drive by most beautiful parks these days, and what do you find? Emptiness! Where are the kids? Where are the families? It’s so sad to have spent all that money and time building lovely parks when nobody uses them — on the bright side, those of us who like to spend time outdoors can certainly take our pick of places to spend it, ha!

  7. This made me smile. I wasn’t much of an outdoors type, when it came to playing (I preferred to sit in comfort and read a book!) Even though my family wasn’t outdoorsy either, we’d often go on a camping trip, or even just a picnic, with my aunt and uncle and grandma (I don’t recall my grandpa going…. I wonder if he had to work…) It was fun because there was always lots of food to graze on and we’d just spend time together.

    • What a nice memory, Janna! I’ll bet your grandpa had to work — too bad he missed out on the fun. And food! I remember reading LOTS of books during the summer times, too. It always seemed that choosing what I *wanted* to read made all the difference, rather than having to adhere to some teacher’s reading list!

  8. It’s obvious that we grew up in the same era, Debbie. I remember some of those very same things. But my favorite thing about summer was being in the water, whether running through the sprinkler, splashing in our kiddie pool, or making the trek to one of the beaches on a local lake. The hotter, the better as long as I could be in the water.

    • I always liked to be *near* the water, but not in it! In fact, fear of the water runs way back in my family, on my mom’s side, so it was a real effort to get me to take swimming lessons when I was little. Running through the sprinkler, though, was definitely a highlight on hot summer days!

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