Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I remember most about summer

This could be a very long BLOG. If it gets too cumbersome, I'll cut it off and make it into several parts.

Now, you have to remember that my rememberer is not functioning as good as it used to. But I shall attempt to recall several things that I remember about summer, which was always a favorite time of year for me. But then, growing up in Runnemede, each season held a specialness.

Winter's endearment was the snow, which I loved; Christmas and walking the main street looking in the windows of the few shops; New Year's day parade in Philadelphia. Spring brought the anticipation of summer -- so spring wasn't so special. Summer was the best growing up, even with the heat and humidity, and I'll get to that. And, of course, fall -- the colors of the trees are what I remember most about the fall, and the movement toward winter which required at least a sweater to be worn all the time.

Back to what I remember most about summer. I think I'll leave out the "most" and just talk about what I remember about summer.

I was thinking about this earlier today and I thought of the front door being always left open so we could enjoy what little breeze there was. Dad had strategically positioned the fans so that we would get the most circulation -- those were the days before ceiling fans, by the way -- and he would draw in the cool air from the front and push out the hot air through a fan in the bay window.

I recall several trips to the shore with one of my Uncles Joe taking us there and eating "sand"wiches -- literally, the blowing sand made them gritty with sand.

I recall practicing the piano a lot during the summer. My two favorite things to do -- practice and play the piano, arranging hymns with frills and runs and chords and different rhythms, and that the piano was located right by that open front door, so the whole world could hear my efforts. Those efforts weren't presented as a brag, more likely as something hurtful to the ear!

I recall waking early on a Tuesday morning so that I could get to my piano lesson at 8:30 a.m. followed by my violin lesson. It was a long walk and I opted for the early start time because I didn't want to walk in the heat. In fact, my friend from up the street, Linda Wallace suggested that to me when I was about 10 years old. She was 11, and of course would know this better than I. She said she always took her lessons early in the morning so that she didn't have to walk to or from in the heat of the afternoon. I thought, what a great idea. So, I, too, took my lessons early. Then I would head home and start practicing.

I recall summer as being the time I would excell in my piano playing efforts because there was sort of a competition between me, Sue Youngblood, Linda Wallace, and Kathy Kenders to see who could learn the most NEW pieces of music. I think in the end it was a wash, but it was a fun competition. I had the smallest hands, so my pieces had to be Bach or Mozart, some composer that didn't use a lot of chords. The girls with the larger hands learned the heavier, louder pieces. So in the noise category, they won. But in the speed category, I won!

I recall the smell of the an incoming thunder storm -- about which I have written several times.

I recall sitting on the front porch reading my favorite books. Did I have favorite books back then? Yes, I did. I read Little Women at least once every summer until I reached 16. I read Hans Brinker and Black Beauty, almost every summer. And I read my most favorite, The Secret Garden, again until I was 16, then my favorite author became Grace Livingston Hill, who wrote stories of young women struggling through the depression and meeting the most wonderful men in the world, all Christian and serving the Lord, which was their main purpose. Sappy stuff, but I loved them.

I recall walking through mom's garden at least once a day, smelling the roses, enjoying the ones that were just getting ready to open.

I remember going to the Little League field Monday evening through Thursday evening to watch the little league game (mostly I watched the boys, let's be honest here). I always had a nickle or a dime to spend, and my favorite treat was a frozen Three Musketeers bar -- that cost a nickle. Add french fries for another nickle -- and I have to tell you, they were the best french fries ever -- and there went my dime. Where I got these precious nickles and dimes I don't recall, but I know if I didn't have a nickle or a dime I didn't go to the ball field. I probably finagled my dad into giving me a nickle or dime and he was probably glad to get one kid out of the house for a few hours. Just kidding. I NEVER felt like either of my parents wanted me out of the house for relief from the burden of raising four bratty, spoiled, preacher's kids.

I recall going to church and how warm it always was in the sanctuary. We had only those fans that the funeral homes handed out to keep ourselves cool. No air conditioning back then.

I recall getting new shoes before school started -- two sizes too big -- and stuffing cotton in the toes so I could wear them without them flipping or flopping off my feet.

I recall the best part of summer being new school supplies -- that meant a new notebook -- three-ring and the most beautiful I could find, a new box of pencils, and a new pen nib for my fountain pen. We didn't get to use ink until we were in third grade, and I don't recall that we had Bic ballpoints back then. We always used fountain pens. And I got a new bottle of ink, my favorite color was teal.

Ah, those were the times. I really did love summer. And that's what I remember most.

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