Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carefree Summers

My childhood summers were spent playing with the kids in the neighborhood. We'd be sent out to play and told to be home when the street lights came on. If Mom wanted us for something before then she might stand on the front steps and holler for us and if we were close enough to hear her we'd head home. Most of the time anyway. At the end of the next street over there were a couple of empty lots and we used them for baseball games. There was also an undeveloped hill and a large field that bordered on a creek where we'd go when we were up to no good. In the evening we'd play a game we called "Slope" which was a combination of kick the can and hide and go seek.

I had a blue Schwinn bike and I'd ride all over on it. When I was nine I ended my summer early by showing off and riding with no hands. You can still feel where two of the three breaks were on my right arm. When I was 10 or 11 I was old enough to ride the mile to the plaza or a few miles to the mall.

Several years there was Girl Scout Camp. I can vividly recall the daddy long legs spiders that cover the inside of the tent. I thought it would be a good idea to cover myself with my plastic ground cloth to keep them from biting me. Wiser girls in my tent pointed out that I might suffocate so I tried to avoid falling asleep. I can remember the drawstring mesh bags that we places our dinnerware in to dry hanging from a line. I can't remember much else that we did. There was one year that we camped in a tent on a farm. It rained a lot. I was wet a lot. Cows smell bad.

When Dad had his vacation we'd head out on a camping trip. We had a small pop-up camper. Mostly we went to the Adirondacks or Vermont. When in Vermont we stayed at Half Moon Pond and took day trips to marble quarries. I hauled home lots of souvenir scrap marble and kept it in a box in my closet. I wonder when Mom got rid of it? In New York we'd usually stay in a State Campground. I have fond memories of Cranberry Lake.

My parents weren't beach people and yet I loved the water so my favorite camping trip was the one and only time we went to Southwick Beach. We had an "add a room" package that zipped onto the camper and friends went with us that time. We camped just off the beach and my parents complained about being in the sun but I thought it was great. The family with us had a daughter who was eight years older than I and by following her around I was able to do and see things I never would have with my parents. She and some of the other older kids got everyone together hunting up driftwood and anything else that would burn and we had a huge bonfire on the beach.

There were also summers spent at Fair Haven Beach State Park. My parents marriage was failing and Dad drove us up to Lake Ontario and helped us get set up and then he headed for home and work. I can't remember how long we stayed but being by the beach was heaven for me (and probably hell for my mother.)

After my parent's divorce summers were a lot less carefree and we spent most of the summer on my father and step-mother's farm in North Carolina. I am better for the experiences I had on the farm and there were some fun times, fishing with a bamboo pole and learning about all the animals but there was lots of work too.

This was written for the 76th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, How I spent my summer vacation... a favorite summer memory from your youth. To be hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.


Bill West said...

Hi Apple.
I'm still grinning over that "Cows smell bad."

We had one of those pop up camper trailers for awhile when I was in high school. One vivid memory is of my Dad hauling it up through Smuggler's Notch in Vermont while my Mom had a
whiteknuckled grip on the car dashboard waiting for us all to go crashing back down the hill in reverse.

Great post!


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Hi Bill,

I was so diappointed by the camp out on the farm. I really, really begged to be able to go and Mom somehow came up with the money and then it was awful.

I'm not sure if we were in Vermont ot the Adirondacks the time we were pulling the trailer uphill and it jumped off of the hitch. Just the trailer would have gone crashing back down if the safety chains hadn't caught. So your Mom was right to be a little worried! Heck, just driving those old mountain roads was enough reason for whiteknuckles! And yet back then there were no seatbelts and us kids were probably standing on the seat watching out the back window.