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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Summertime Fun!

summer sun

Summer days are in full swing, children are out of school, families are taking vacations, and swimming pools are seeing an increased use in warmer parts of the country.

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As a child, the end of school marked the end of early bedtimes, vacations, spending all day in our backyard pool, and annual family reunions. My parents would try to have our pool open for the season by early May if possible even if the temps were still in the low 70s. Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer with an outdoor picnic. Mom would make her famous potato salad and my Granddad would bring a fresh watermelon. It was time to kick off the shoes and run barefoot through the grass. We kids would savor popsicles and ice cream bars on the patio steps.

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During the month of June, I found the rhythm of summer days. Up by 7 or 8 a.m. because Mom didn’t believe in “sleeping your life away.” Normally there were chores that I had to do before I could start playing. Riding bikes through the countryside, visiting friends several streets away, inviting my friends over for lunch or snacks, and swimming. In those days I was like a fish – always in the water. I was so tanned that even by winter time my tans lines were still there.  We drank kool-aid by the gallon and slurped fresh well water from the garden hose. We stayed out past dark and ran through the unfenced backyards catching lightning bugs and looking at the stars. Weekends were also spent hanging out at local theaters watching movies after the parents dropped us off.

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By July anticipation was in the air as we readied for our annual trip to Coshocton, Ohio and the big family reunion on my dad’s side of the family. We would normally stay with my dad’s oldest sister, my Aunt Gertie, in Zanesville over the reunion weekend. During the reunion, I stuck close to a couple of my cousins and my aunts and uncles. I had fun watching the men play horseshoes. By the time I was in 5th grade, I spent a week in July at church camp each year. That necessitated another long drive usually accompanied by the sister and her kids so my mom didn’t have to drive home all by herself.

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Amore Sibling Reunion, Detroit, about 1966

August brought another trip for another reunion – this one for my dad and his siblings and their families. Many times it was in the Detroit area as two of my dad’s brothers lived there. If we were in Michigan, we’d usually head over to Battle Creek to visit my mom’s brother, too. Once we went to Chicago – my brother and his family following us. We all used my walkie-talkies to communicate. A time long before CB radios or cell phones. In the summer of 1968 while the West Coast was heating up with riots after the Summer of Love, the reunion was held at our house. The last reunion of my dad and his siblings I attended was in the early 1970s (71 or 72). My parents were already separated and I spent a week with my dad that summer during reunion time. He had it at his place by the lake in St. Mary’s, Ohio. That was the last time I saw my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins.

By the time August drew to a close, school was right around the corner, and it would be time to go to Sears or Elder-Beerman or Rike’s to shop for school clothes. I knew that swimming season was getting shorter and would usually end by mid-September as the temps in southwestern Ohio began to drop. Then when Labor Day arrived, our last outdoor picnic of the summer, bed time was moved back to an earlier time in preparation for school beginning that Wednesday. There were several times that sweaters were needed in the morning or evening by Labor Day.

Does your family have a summer time tradition? What were your childhood days of summer like?

(Sun image courtesy of Squidoo)

(Images: Our Swimming Pool; me and two of my friends about 1967; Coshocton Fairgrounds for Amore Reunion – July 1968; Amore Sibling Reunion at my Uncle Paul’s home in Detroit, Michigan about 1966-67 – all photos digital and original slides/photos owned by Wendy Littrell)

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Bill at West in New England started a topic on picnics. Several of my fellow Genea-Bloggers have posted on this subject so I thought I would also write a post on this topic.

There would be several of us: my parents, my maternal grandparents, my sister, her husband and two kids, my brother and his wife, and sometimes a friend or two that would wander over from a neighboring house.  Ocassionally there would be cousins who also joined us.  We had two picnic tables in our backyard so we would put the tablecovers over them and lay the spread out.  I don’t know if we actually had barbecued hamburgers and grilled hot dogs or just sandwiches. What I do remember is my mom’s potato salad and the watermelon my grandfather would always bring.  Due to the number of flies that seemed to want to enjoy their own picnic, my folks bought “food” covers so when we were not serving, the food was pretty much left alone by the insects.

Normally some or all of us had been swimming in the backyard pool so we were eating in our swimsuits.  After the food was taken away and the picnic tables were empty, my niece and nephew (and any of my friends who were over) would turn them over, put blankets over them and make them into forts!  This worked until my mother realized that we were being too hard on them and was afraid we’d loosed the legs or knock them around too much.  Thus ended our fort building.  Now why I thought we needed a fort when I had a playhouse my dad had built for me in the backyard, I don’t know!  Probably because it was something different!

We had two full-fledged reunions at our house.  My dad’s siblings, their families, and his uncle came one year to the annual “Descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore” reunion that we hosted.  For 3-4 days the Amore siblings were in the pool, in the kitchen, sitting out in the backyard, eating catered picnic food, and enjoying the yearly get-together.  My grandfather’s family had their reunion one year at our house.  This was the Johnson-Blazer reunion that was normally held in Champagne County, Ohio.  Again, we swam, ate, played badmitten, and had a good time.

It wasn’t the actual picnic food that I remember.  It was the family get-togethers and the fun times we had.

So how about you?  What type of picnics did your family enjoy?

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