Summer was a very long season as a child. The end of school in June was a relief – at last free – no more thinking! I remember mornings – sleeping in – waking to the warm breeze as it meandered through the window finding her way to my bed; gently caressing my face. The bird outside my window sang her morning song telling me a new day was waiting for me. I can still picture that morning sun – the glow and feeling as he peeked into my bedroom, a sight not duplicated in my adult life.
The first item on the agenda was getting outside to have fun. I would meet up with my friends (usually the boys) and we would plan all morning for our afternoon activities. The activities would be productions with each person having a specific part and dialog. Sometimes the game would be Flash Gordon, or cops and robbers, sometimes a game with our own made-up language, which got us laughing as we tried to figure out what the other person was saying. But mostly it would be cowboys and pioneers crossing the plains going west. We all had guns and holsters, our parents didn't worry this toy would influence us to a life of crime or we would become mass murderers. We were kids but yet we knew the difference between reality and fantasy.
The next item on the agenda was getting provisions for the journey. This consisted of thorn-apples from the tree in the front yard, either picking off the branches we could reach or just gathering the apples that fell to the ground, naturally discarding those with worm holes. This took up the largest part of the morning, after all it would take months, or years to cross the plains. We needed enough to sustain us through the long seasons of travel and hardship.
When the lunch whistle blew, and their was a whistle off in the distance, from where we never knew only that it was lunchtime; we gathered in a different backyard each day for our meal. Brown paper bags containing our sandwich and fruit, someone always had candy and would share a piece, and of course our Fizzie tablet. The hosting mother supplied the glass of water to pop our Fizzie in. We dropped it in the clear liquid and watched as the colored tablet swam to the bottom of the glass. Bubbles shooting to the top and the color swirling in the water like fireworks on the 4th of July. Instantly the glass of water turned into a sweet soft drink - my favorite being the artificially flavored root beer. I can’t imagine that today’s Fizzie tables make the same wonderful drink.
After lunch our “play” would start. We played with enthusiasm and concentration as we acted out each scene. Our play went strong, non-stop, until the fathers came home from work. As soon as the car was spotted coming down the street, our play stopped and we immediately went.home Mothers never had to call us home, we knew it was time, we followed the agenda.
Family time was the agenda item for evening. Once in a while an amendment was made, you might play over at the closest neighbors yard, maybe catching fireflies or playing red-light – green-light, but not very often. Family time was on the agenda for the whole neighborhood. Some nights I would be with Dad as he checked out his garden, or played catch with him as Mom cleaned the kitchen, or shooting the BB gun at the sign in the vacant lot, or just sitting in the yard with lemonade listening to the folks talk about their day. There was no watching TV in the summer, most shows where reruns, and after all everyone wanted to be outside, it was too hot in the house. This was the era before every building had air conditioning, we enjoyed being out, winter was time enough to stay inside.
Unfortunately for Mom we did get very dirty playing outside all day. We made a ‘slide’ on the construction dirt pile in the vacant lot, dirt attracted to our sweaty skin like metal shot to a magnet. Which ever activity was on our agenda that day, a nightly bath also was - unlike winter when a full bath was only a Saturday night event. We could stay up late in the summer. After bath-time the agenda item was snuggling with Dad. We kept cool in front of the window fan as we watched the news, weather, and sports. This was a big treat!
I don’t know if summer was so much longer then, or maybe it was the fact there were no worries for us, everything we needed was provided. We were kids and lived in our own world. Whatever it was – yes – summer as a small child was magic. How I would love to again add that magic to my agenda.