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.
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.
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.
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.
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)