I Miss Summer Vacation

Ah, summer vacation. I miss it. I remember how the last three weeks leading up to school getting out were sheer torture. The poor teachers probably felt like prison guards trying to keep the inmates calm…only they didn’t have stun guns and a high-pressure hose (those were for the inner city elementary schools :D). Though, now that I think about it, slap a sprinkler on the end of that high-pressure hose and we would have likely loved that.

Did you guys end your year with Field Day? Sorry. I hated Field Day. I think Field Day was invented by the same sadists who thought up Dodge Ball. Every year I spent my last two days of school getting my butt kicked in every sport imaginable. Good thing I was too focused on summer vacation to care. All I had left to do is clean out the 900 pounds of crap I had somehow fit into my desk and locker.

Oh, there’s that protractor thingie that was on the school supply list. What DOES that thing do, anyway?

That final bell would ring and it was over. I would spend the next two and a half months loaded with sugar and wrinkled from water. My grandparents had a swimming pool and when we weren’t there, we were wearing a hole in my parent’s lawn with a Slip and Slide. Remember those things? Good thing I grew up in the days before everyone went lawsuit happy.

Really? You dove head-first off the station wagon onto a piece of plastic and sprained both your wrists??? Well, you won’t do that again, will ya? Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.

Yeah, NOTHING was childproof. All the playground equipment was heavy-duty industrial steel. And back then little girls actually wore dresses, so the first sucker kid down the slide usually suffered second degree burns down the backs of her thighs. So we would put the water hose on the slide and make our own water park. Between that, the dancing in the sprinkler and the Slip and Slide, I have no idea how my parents didn’t have a $600 water bill. Maybe they did, but it was well worth the money to keep the screaming hoard of wild Indians locked beyond the sliding glass door….which, by the way, was actually LOCKED. When cartoons were over at 8:30? Out the door we went.

Need water? Go lap some off the Slip and Slide. See, like the dog. Just drink upstream from him. Go! Before I put you to work cleaning bathrooms.

Gotta pee? Man used bushes for thousands of years. Just don’t let the Robinsons see you.

The neighbors want to take you to Jewish Camp? Okay, but this time, don’t convert. You cannot have a Bat-mitsvah, and you’re going to Baptist Camp next week. The Lutherans have dibs on you after that.

My brother and I had the COOLEST gym set out back. Nowadays it would be considered an Al Qaeda training facility. It was 20 feet tall, had uneven bars, parallel bars, climbing bars, a rope to climb, and iron rings. It was the glorious centerpiece of the neighborhood. ALL the kids wanted to be at my house playing Red Dawn, also known as Kill the Russians.

Oh, we were politically incorrect back then, too.

Those Russians were always taking Cabbage Patch Kids hostage. We knew they had a plan to brainwash them then reinsert them as Cabbage Patch Sleeper Cells that would kill us in our sleep…

…IF we ever slept. No we stayed up ALL NIGHT LONG. It was SUMMER!

Last night I stayed up until TWO THIRTY! Tonight I’m gonna stay up until FOUR. One day, when I’m bigger, I’m gonna stay up TWENTY ELEVEN HOURS! And when I grow up, I’m gonna have a Trans-Am and NEVER SLEEP EVER!!!!

Okay, yeah. We only stayed up that late when we went to my cousin’s house. They were…teenagers. We did all kinds of things we weren’t supposed to. We put on makeup, watched MTV (back when it actually had music) and watched scary movies and played Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…

Eh, she never did show, but that didn’t stop us from nagging her every Friday night.

My cousins are responsible for my current aquaphobia. If it ain’t chlorinated, I ain’t swimming in it. Jaws ruined me for salt water and Friday the 13th pretty much ruined fresh water. But it was okay, they had a pool too….and a DIVING BOARD.

Are those things even still legal to have now? We would spend all day long inventing new dives.

Oh, yeah, well I will raise your Cannon Ball a Bazooka Loaded with Banned Nuclear Warheads. TOP THAT, SUCKAH!

The first six weeks of summer were magic. We’d swim and play and go to Six Flags and stay up late so we could walk to that small wooden health hazard shack that served as a snow cone stand for five months out of the year. We’d play in the streets until the street lamps flickered on and beckoned us home. Then we’d beg our parents to let us at least play in the front yard so we could catch frogs and fireflies.

Ah, but then that six weeks would be over, and we’d have the Seventh Week Itch. In Texas it is so hot by July that everything, including the kids, start to wilt. We were rested and ready for a new school year. Our parents started having to play warden and make us go to bed by nine so we could get our body clocks reset for school.

BED????? But it’s still LIGHT outside!!!!

As adults, what would we give to have three months to just play? Maybe that’s the secret to world peace. Maybe all of us are just stressed out and we need to have time to scream and yell and ride bikes up a ramp made out of a door someone threw away.

Maybe if the U.N. would just get all the world leaders together for the LONGEST SLIP AND SLIDE EVER!!!!! (Just tape all of Dad’s lawn bags to the end until you run out of space on the White House lawn). Maybe if everyone got a chance to play together and run off all the excess energy, maybe then we’d be too tired and happy to be stressed.

I miss summer vacation. How about you? What do you remember? What summer rituals did you have?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

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  1. Yeah, Jaws ruined swimming in the ocean for me. Not that I have access to one unless I get on an Airplane and Fly somewhere or Drive in a Car for endless hours. That picture may ruin kids swimming pools for me too. Not that I could fit in one but still….

    Thanks for a Friday morning snort. Good thing I’d already finished my coffee.

  2. OH, this post is such torture on a Friday! At work. When I want to be almost anywhere else! And especially at the beach. Oh, well. We go to Disney tomorrow. Yes, Disney, in Orlando, in July. In otherwords, hell on earth. Literally. Your feet will stick to the asphalt if you’re not careful. (No, this is not an urban legend — it actually happened to my dad recently.) So at least after a day there, I’ll be glad to be back at work. 🙂

  3. I remember playing Bloody Mary and Kick the Can. The best was playing neighborhood ball and using “GhostMan” to hold your spot on second so you could go bat again. 🙂

    Mom would kick us out of the house at daybreak with these instructions, “Don’t you dare go beyond our boundaries and be back in before dark.” We roamed the neighborhood, on bikes, on foot, and if we did sneak over to the Pond on the busy road, my mother would meet us at the door with switch.

    And that was summer.

    Fun memories, Kristen.

  4. Oh, man. I remember we had the mother of all jungle gyms. We didn’t play Red Dawn, though. For us, it was Indiana Jones. We swing across the jungle gyms looking for treasure–usually over acid, or lava, or spikes, or something–and if we fell off…DEAD! My hands were like leather by the end of the summer.

    I’ve never been to the ocean, but I’d be too afraid to swim. Not because of sharks. No, no. Jellyfish actually scare me more. They can wash up on the beach. And lakes? I’ve swam in them a few times, but I have to sort of force myself through my fear of snakes, snapping turtles, and big, bitey fish.

  5. What a great, fun post 😀 I wish I could have a summer vacation, but this is our busy time at work :/

    My favorite part of summer vacation was summer camp. A couple hundred kids stuffed into cabins for a week, with access to guns and bows and a giant lake and boats and a bog that you could imagine falling into and getting stuck forever like the mammoths they pulled out of it. It was awesome 🙂

  6. Right now even a week or two of total relaxation and irresponsibility sounds great.

    I live along the Great Lakes, and so in the summer we spent most of our time jumping off the bow of a boat into the water so far from shore we’d be sure to drown if we got too far away. Life jackets? Who needs life jackets. And if we had to pee, my parents would always tell us, “Go in the lake. That’s what the fishes do.”

    When we actually had our feet on land, my brother and I would bike a mile into the nearest village, buy a bunch of candy from the general store, and drink water from a rusty tap that you had to pump to get anything out of. It was great! We also had the world’s best three story tree house my dad built.

    That was the life.

    • kpsimmon on July 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm
    • Reply

    I am laughing so hard! I swear, you just described my childhood summers, including the Texas heat! Where in TX are you? I grew up in Sugar Land just outside of Houston. Hot and muggy! But it didn’t matter that much then because we were too busy having fun. My favorite part? Your memory of the frogs & fireflies in the frontyard. That’s one of my favorite memories too. Thanks for this post Kristen. It was perfect for my Friday!

  7. That may have been the worst thing about going back to a Day Job – missing out on the kids’ Summer Holiday. Luckily for them, now that we live in Canada, they have interesting Summer Camps to attend, where they actually do exciting sports and activities. In the rain, because this IS British Columbia…..

  8. So. Many. Memories.

    Our back side yard was by a small street — which had (I am not lying) a pile of telephone poles, like some kind of game of pick-up-sticks for giants! All the neighborhood kids would play on this — why wouldn’t we? Any one of us could have been killed or seriously maimed at any time, the true measure of any great “playground.”

    We called this monstrocity “Witches’ Island.” All kinds of scenerios — king of the hill, Johnny’s been kidnapped, (neither Red Dawn, nor Indiana Jones had been invented yet…) the princess needs saving. The list goes on.

    I loved reading everyone else’s memories. Be home by dark…

  9. I think we must be about the same age. I remember all this stuff. My fondest summer memories are picking blackberries with my grandmother. We’d get up very early to do this. In the afternoon, she’d made the *best* blackberry cobbler I ever had. My grandfather would come in from work in the afternoons, and they’d fight over whether he–a diabetic–could have cobbler and ice cream. (In East Texas, it’s ahs craym.) Thank for the fun post.

    • Tamika on July 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    • Reply

    I had stop reading at my desk and walk away- I was cracking up! This is summer recap that touched all the good stuff. My face hurts from trying to keep it all together:)

    Kristen, you made my day!

  10. Oh, yeah… slip n slide! And if we weren’t on the neighbor’s slip n slide, we were at my house in the kiddie wading pool. And if we weren’t doing that, we were running through somebody’s sprinklers or hosing down the poor mailman (Yes. I actually did that. What? He looked hot.). And when are parents told us it was time for the neighbor kids to go home, we’d sit on our side of the street and they’d sit on theirs and we’d play “neighbors”. Good times.

  11. Oh, Kristen, your post brings back so many fun memories of how happy I used to feel during summer vacations. No school, all day to play, a vacation somewhere in the middle. Ahh.. And you know what? I think you hit the nail on the head (cliche’ alert, I know) when you said maybe what we all need to lessen our stress levels is to take summer vacations! How come we need to run around 24/7, 365 just because we’re adults? Most people can hardly afford one short week of vacation once a year. Taking more than that would put them into bankruptcy. And that’s sad. We’re all so busy running around like chickens with our heads off (another cliche’ alert, sorry Margie Lawson!) that we don’t take any down time at all. No wonder so many people are on Prozac and Valium!

  12. Oh I loved this post! Weren’t those the days? When did we all get so paranoid? lol!

    • olivianewport on July 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm
    • Reply

    I grew up in the Midwest where mosquitoes were a perpetual issue. Trucks came by spraying stuff and we would go running into it because it was such a dense fog we couldn’t see through it. STOOPID! No telling what we were inhaling. Also, our front yard was kickball central for the neighborhood all summer long.

    • malindalou on July 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm
    • Reply

    I too am not athletic and hated Field Day. I always thought it was an excuse to get a bunch of summer-ready rug rats out of the school building for an entire day. (And having worked as a substitute teacher, now I’m sure of it.)

    Slip and slides were awesome!! Before we had one of our own, my mother improvised with plastic sheeting and a garden hose. I always wished I had been a bit younger when they came out. When I was thirteen, they introduced the ones that had the “splash pool” at the end.

    Good Free For All Friday post Kristen! 🙂

  13. Gosh, Kristen. What a wonderful post – I laughed so much! It seems kids today sleep in, get on their computer, and stay up waaay too late…they never see the outdoors, which is such a shame. Thanks for the memories, dear!

  14. Oh, happy times. I think I’m a bit older than you, but things hadn’t changed much. Water fun, sugar, late night horror movies (which apparently had an effect on my muse, LOL)

    Thanks for taking us down memory lane. You just reduced my stress level!

  15. Very amusing, Kristen!

  16. I remember the first summer game I ever learned, it was called “Stick”. You could find the game at any area tree and use it all summer long (then, of course, mom would cast an evil spell on it and make it disappear).

    With Stick in hand one could play a powerful knight, using stick as a horse to ride to the rescue then transform Stick into a mighty +6 Vorpal Weapon of ultimate destruction. Or into the staff of a powerful wizard (before HP wizards used staves, wands were for stage magicians).

    I miss Stick.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Kristen. Great post 🙂

  17. I have to admit: one of the reasons why I decided to go into academia was precisely because I was unwilling to give up my summer vacations.

    Granted, they’re not nearly as exciting, or long, as they used to be — I usually TA summer school, and I have my own research and projects that need to get finished, but it feels WONDERFUL to not have anywhere to go. I can indulge my inner night owl and stay up till all hours, drinking tea, writing, and reading novels.

    This is actually how I spent my summer vacations as a kid, too, because growing up on the coast outside of San Francisco meant that we didn’t get sun, we got 55 degree weather, mist, and heavy fog — no outdoor games for us!

  18. Oh my God, field day. Had it in elementary school, hated and dreaded it with a passion. Like you, I got my butt kicked in pretty much every sport, and I have nightmares about the long jump to this day.

    I grew up in the country, so summers could be boring and hot. We spent a lot of time in the sprinklers. I never had a slip and slide. Resent my parents for that oversight.

  19. What a great post for a Friday! I think my best summers were around 5th-6th grade when our wheels were of the two variety not four. We’d practice disco dancing and do each other’s hair then play barbies and chase boys in the neighborhood. We rode bikes from house to house and lived outside most of the day. We didn’t see parents for most of the day; a little tribe of kids managing themselves between meals.
    How things have changed! Thanks for the humor Kristen

  20. I remember being barefoot all summer. This was in a Connecticut suburb, so there must have been asphalt everywhere, but my feet got tough pretty quick. We wandered around during the day. I believe I tagged along after my older brother. We rolled down hills and ran through sprinklers.

    Then we moved to California and lived in a neighborhood with a pool. That’s where I spent the summer. Sunscreen? What’s that? I never got sunburned until I hit puberty — for some reason that changed how my skin reacted.

    I missed fireflies when we left Connecticut. I’m thrilled to have them back, living in Indiana.

  21. Funny stuff Kristen! I remember having to participate in Field Days and hated it. We’d get stupid ribbons for placing (back when you really had to place and everyone didn’t just get a prize) and have to play most of the day. I had good knack as a dancer, but that never crossed over into athletic stuff like volleyball and dodge ball.

    I have many a bloody nose tale to tell from dodge ball with bruises from falling off the metal playground equipment onto solid tar or concrete and not some foo-foo cushion molding. And I’m surprised more kids didn’t break and sprain serious stuff on those Slip and Slides. I mean wet a plastic tarp on the hard ground, run full speed and propel yourself face first on it. Really? As someone commented earlier, we were not paranoid and so much better for it.

  22. Ahh, Gen X nostalgia. You know I’m a sucker for such wonderful thoughts. You had me at Field Day. Hated that too. I think the same thing about summer time. People still say things to me like, “Oh, you’re a teacher? I bet you have a lot of time off since it’s summer huh?” And that’s when I deliver a mental roundhouse to their skull because I teach even more this time of year since all the adult teachers go on vacation. That’s it. I’m grabbing a Slip n Slide and going to the Obama’s house. I’ll try not to let them see me pee in the bushes.

  23. LOL, so much more fun as a kid! Now I’m the parent trying to keep the kids occupied for weeks and weeks and weeks.

    I grow up on a cul-de-sac and we had weekly hide-n-seek games. Usually, a mid-week night as the sun was going down all the kids (and sometimes a parent or two) would play. The entire cul-de-sac was available to us as long as we didn’t go into houses or cars, the street light was home base. We were encouraged to dress in dark clothes, at night! We’d play for hours 🙂

    Our own little Mayberry :sigh: miss that and am sadden my kids don’t have it.

    4th of July is another awesome summer memory from the cul-de-sac…everyone would bring their BBQs down to the bottom and we’d have a huge potluck dinner followed by a game of softball till it got dark enough for the fireworks.

    Now you’ve gone and made me all nostalgic 🙂 Great post Kristen!

  24. FUN post, Kristen!

    Slip Sliding Away . . . Those Summer Days . . . Hot Fun in the Summer Time . . . Summer Breeze . . . Summertime, Summertime, Summertime.

    Aah . . . that’s better!

    • Ingrid Schaffenburg on July 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm
    • Reply

    I just realized… I have summer vacation right now! I need to start livin it up!!

  25. I’m still reading “Are You There Blog” on my Kindle (the Text To Speech makes me snicker…), but I pulled myself away long enough to read this latest post.

    Great stuff!

  26. ROFLOL.

    Ok…that pic of the pool shark put me off the little kiddie pool in the backyard. Thanks a lot.

    I remember roaming the neighborhood with my friends, waling to their houses, and pretty much no adult supervision alllllll day long. We had a fort in the woods. Well…not really a fort. We planned the heck out of that thing but never got around to building it. S’okay, the planning was fun. 😀

  27. I’ve never recovered from wanting two months or more of freedom every summer! I lived in the Canadian Rockies in coal mining country, town of 2000. Swimmin’ hole in backwashes of the creek, (top temp 75 degrees) bon fires, roasting potatoes (blackened skin, and raw on the inside, lots of salt) shivering, making eyes at the boys, building log cabins in the woods and keeping the location secret (but there was always a leak, hoping the boys would raid the camp …and they did), sleeping out under the stars on the mountain side a mile from home, laying in the sleeping bag at 4 AM, freezing, hoping to hold out until someone else woke up and lit the fire. Riding horses. Picnics. Camping at a deserted mountain lake with girl friends and skinny dipping. Sweet!

  28. What great memories. I’m from the baby boomer generation and grew up in Arlington, Texas and there was a huge number of kids on our block. Every evening we’d be out playing hide n seek…everyone running all over the place. Plus having headstand and somersault contests. Our house was the go to house – mom had lots of extra adopted kids during the summer. We’d put on plays in the carport, dig holes to china in the backyard, had mud ball fights. One of our neighbors had a go cart. He was pretty popular for a while. Good times.

  29. Lovely post!

    I attended summer camp ages 8-16 for eight weeks at a stretch in northern Ontario. LOVED it. Couldn’t wait to get there, cried our hearts out when it ended. Sailing all afternoon. Getting the lead in every musical — Bells Are Ringing, Flower Drum Song. Canoe trips, portaging (at 16) 65-lb wood and canvas canoes (with mosquitoes and black flies stinging our sweaty faces and hands). Bears in the woods. Gunwhale-bobbing. Dusk at 10:00 p.m.

    The lap of water on granite rock and wind-twisted pine trees gets me every single time…

  30. Aaah, to be a kid again! Fun post, Kristen!

  31. Too funny, I was just talking about old summer vacations. We always went to Six Flags Great America and got there before open and stayed til close riding roller coasters. And we had a pool in our yard too, but no diving board, instead we would jump off the deck onto those floating lounge mats and try to surf as long as possible before falling into the pool.

  32. I just realized that I sound exactly like your parents. Probably because they sound exactly like my own parents. What I remember about summer: pool, pool, and more pool, reading, staying up late watching music videos on Night Flight because my tiny town didn’t get MTV yet, and realizing when Domino’s came to town that we could all pool our allowances and get a pizza delivered after our parents were asleep.

  33. Okay, so I know you hated Field Days, but one year I kicked ass and won at the Crab Race. No lie, I still have the pathetic, faded blue construction paper ribbon that some poor soul had to make. My favorite memories all took place at overnight camp where, each year, I picked out a new boy whom I would relentless pursue. You know, until I got him. 😉

  34. *relentlessLY* dang it!

  35. Yes, I remember I’d wake up and be out the door and down the block by 7 or 7:30 am. Usually before my mom was awake. The things we got away with then. Now our moms would be freaking out. How was I supposed to know you didn’t get kidnapped during the night? LOL! And now, of course, I’m totally not a morning person. 🙂

    • Caroline Clemmons on July 23, 2011 at 5:01 am
    • Reply

    Isn’t it amazing they still market Slip and Slide? Both my kids have rotten knees because of that joint-eating monster. And when I think of some of the things I played when I was a kid, it scares me. Ever see one of those giant swing sets made of heavy pipe fifteen or twenty feet high with long chains? Ever try to see who could pump so high you sailed OVER the swing set’s top bar? One of my friends didn’t go over the top, but pumped so high the momentum threw her out of the swing. (Sorry abourt the broken arm, dear. Lucky it wasn’t your neck.) But as a mom, I loved summer vacation when my two daughters were home and we couldl do as we pleased with no rigid schedule to keep. Now, I prefer winter–especially considering the heat in North Central Texas!

  36. I grew up in south Florida, so it seemed like it was always summer time, it just so happened that for three months in the middle there was no school. I liked climbing trees, usually to get away from my pesky older siblings. I managed to figure out how to get into my favorite one with both a drink and an armful of books (it was all in the momentum!) so summer to me meant having the freedom to sit in that tree uninterrupted from after breakfast to just before dinner, and just read or daydream about new stories. Jaws ruined going to the ocean for me, so despite being a few blocks away, i never wanted to go.

    We also had this frozen lemonade truck that came by. It was more popular than the ice cream truck. In fact, I have one memory of my mom spotting one on the highway and chasing it down to the next exit so we could get some!

    When I did play with my older brother and the neighborhood kids, we often got into trouble. One afternoon. we got into a an older lady’s yard with massive plum trees. We plucked every last plum and had the biggest fruit war you’ve ever seen. We were grounded for almost all of summer vacation that year. Ah, good times…

  37. Building forts, water balloon fights, Capture the Flag, swimming…

  38. I have never laughed so hard! What a great post! You certainly had me going down memory lane. I identified with EVERYTHING you said! And as for Bloody Mary, I had totally forgotten about her! Now I hope I can sleep tonight!

  39. I actually loved field day, maybe that’s why I’m so competitive today? Summer vacation was the best. I remember riding my bike for hours, walking through the fields and trying to catch horny toads, and swinging on my swing-set until after dark listening to my Walk-man. Yep, my walk-man.

  40. I guess the difference is that I was a country boy, and you were a city girl. I remember summers as a time of work. Hoeing the garden, haying, sheering the sheep, shovelling manure (which is a REALLY smelly job) out of the barn into the manure spreader, and lots of other things, all of which involved work. Lots of work.

    We got time off in the winter, when the most you had to do was feed and water the animals every morning and night, and then you were free for the rest of the day, and you could get out the snowmobile and take off.


    • Tamara LeBlanc on July 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm
    • Reply

    I’m way late in commenting…sorry bout that. I had a whirlwind birthday bash weekend, and I’m finally winding down. My husband managed to plan a huge surprise at a vineyard in Ga for me. I had no idea and when all was said and done all of my closest friends and family were there to celebrate with me! It was amazing:)
    Anyhoo, I got a kick out of the shark picture and the stroll down summer vacay memory lane. I never played Bloody Mary, but I sure love drinking them:)
    Have a fabulous Sunday, and thanks for the birthday wish!!

  41. Very nice article. I feel as though I were reading a bit of my own childhood with that. My mother watched Dark Shadows during the week. In the summer, we would want to watch it, but were not allowed. So we were kicked out doors.
    One summer we ran water down the slide of our swing set and placed our little kiddie pool at the bottom. My brother was doing some neat tricks off the slide into the pool. When I tried it, I dislocated my shoulder.
    I don’t remember the summers being so devastatingly hot as they are now, that I’m older. I remember always having to be the German, with my brother and his friend being the Americans. Of course, I had to die. One summer, I fell over dead, and found a green grass snake under me. Kids don’t seem to play like that anymore, do they?

  42. I remember the neighbor boy, my little brother and I spent every summer day building our ‘tent’ under the peach and apricot trees in the back yard where my mother would deliver lemonade in Tupperware cups and grilled ’round’ sandwiches made of marshmallow whip and peanut butter or bologna and melted cheese. We took a long while with those sandwiches, chewing slowly and licking our dirty fingers then smacking our lips with satisfaction while sitting beneath the old blankets hung over ropes that had been strung between and then wrapped ’round the two tree trunks. We were trying to make the goodness last as long as possible because at the end of the day blankets, ropes and whatever else we had drug into the tent had to be put back to its proper state before my father came home from work.

    Thank you for inspiring this sweet memory for me.

    I have ‘pressed’ your post on the http://marycatherinelunsford.wordpress.com blog and I am inviting you to drop by when you are inclined.


  43. Growing up in Los Angeles, it was all ocean ALL THE TIME for me in the summers. We’d get up early and take the #12 blue bus to Santa Monica and hang out between Station 24 and 25. Thank God, I didn’t watch Jaws until high school!

    My fave thing was camp – Girl Scout camp to be exact – on Catalina Island. I learned to canoe in the ocean and spent hours in the surf or dodging Buffalo chips throughout the camp. I remember all those wacky camp songs (which I now sing to my daughter) – *Peanut, peanut butter…and jelly…* Plus I’d spend HOURS in the evenings doing hair. It’s astonishing that I didn’t go into hair rather than software training. 🙂

    I loved, loved, loved Slip N Slides (just not enough room in the city) and I so appreciate your trip down memory lane!

  44. Summer vacation…somehow, I ended up going to journalism camp. I don’t mind since there are great people but it certainly cut down my vacation time. We also ended up being the new teacher’s guinea pigs. If we understand what they’re talking about, the teachers are hired. If not, they’re not hired.

    My favorite thing in the summer? Green mangoes. They’re so sour I found myself wanting more. Most of the time, I don’t put salt on them just to taste their sourness. Those are the best times.

  45. I just returned from church camp as a staff member. It’s the same camp I went to for 11 years as a kid! However, it’s different. Back when I was a child/teenager, the cabins were not air-conditioned; there were chiggers everywhere; you had to watch for scorpions when you walked with your flashlight to the community bathroom between cabins; and I don’t remember ever wearing sunscreen. This past week, I wore a jacket in the pavilion because the A/C made it feel like a meat locker in there (while it was 100 degrees outside); I accessed Wi-Fi from the camp office; and I showed videos to the kids on our audio-visual projection system with surround sound speakers. Quite a difference! But summer still means camp to me. Always will.

    Oh yeah! A rope still hangs from a tree limb so we can swing out and drop down into the Medina River! That is the same. 🙂

    • beverlydiehl on July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, you sure know how to rub it in. Now I’m craving an ice cream truck treat, AND a slip ‘n slide (those were before my time. The competition for my neighborhood was who had the best oscillating sprinkler in the front yard.)

    Europeans and peeps from other countries actually TAKE long vacations. Without checking in with the office five times a day. And the GO places, like the Grand Canyon. I did take a “long” vacation (two weeks, eternity for an American) a few years ago and met almost as many people from out of the country at our national parks as there were Americans.

    I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else, but I do think we should take a page from that book, and actually learn to relax, explore and play, on a regular basis.

  46. A late comment is better than none at all says I.

    Summer play. Ah yes, I remember the concept, but summer was not for playing it was for reading! I lived in a neighborhood of few children and no sidewalks so it was asking Mom to drive me if I wanted to go anywhere. But books, oh my, the books. I could go anywhere I wanted without having to leave my favorite place high up in the apple tree in the back yard.

    I traveled to every country of my imagination, rode Kon Tiki with Thor Heyerdahl and dove beneath the waves with Jacques Cousteau. Then, when I was about eight, I discovered a strange new animal called Science Fiction, and the rest of life went into the crapper.

    I traveled to Cimmeria with Robert Howard, far distant planets with the Gray Lensman, and oh how many nights did I spend laying on the warm grass wishing I could see the “twin hurtling moons of Barsoom,” with John Carter, and have my own Dejah Thoris.

    Heinlein, Van Vogt, Asimov, “Doc” Smith, Verne, Lovecraft, Burroughs, and so many others whom I’ve probably forgotten.

    Those were my Summers of Bliss.

    I miss the wonder of them.

    • Joanna Aislinn on August 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm
    • Reply

    Game shows, soaps and books were the ticket to me keeping myself occupied during the school hiatus. Now I feel sort of guilty for the break (but figure the 60+) hours of my time just on writing evaluations is comp time now, right? Anyway, there are blogs to read and write, social media to learn and a house to get in order before September rolls around. Thanks for this great reminder of how it was–and maybe meant to be–at least for a short-lived while every year.

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