Friday, June 21, 2013

The Good Old Summertime

Today is officially the first day of summer.

The summer days of my childhood seemed to stretch endlessly before me ... a magical time that my brothers and my best friend Sharron and I filled with PLAYING ... almost literally, from daylight to after dark.  And we really PLAYED ... OUTSIDE ... in primitively-built tree houses and "forts" and in "secret clubhouses" built in ditches and shared with spiders and bees and no-telling-what-kind of critters and creatures we didn't know were there.  Those Louisiana summers were hot and humid, unbearably so at times, but we didn't care.  It was summertime!

About mid-morning, Mama would call us to the back door for a snack and Kool Aid, and then back we'd go ... to our hideouts and the world of Roy and Dale and Trigger and Bullet ... fighting the bad guys and always winning.  At noon we would go in and get cleaned up (sometimes that required baths) and eat lunch, then rest for a while.  We didn't have to take a nap, but we had to go to our rooms and rest.  It seems like our "rest time" mostly consisted of asking Mama over and over again if it was time to get up yet.  We couldn't wait to get back outside to play.

Our afternoons were usually spent playing in the hose or in a little plastic pool, or "performing" acrobatic tricks on our swing set, which was literally just that ... three swings!  No fancy molded plastic playhouse with attached swings and teeter-totter, "monkey bars," or slides ... but we did have a wonderful seesaw that Daddy built for us, and we spent many a happy hour on that old seesaw, sometimes all four of us at one time, balancing our weight so we could go up and down without stranding two of us in the air with dangling legs.

We also built "villages" in the dirt, or in our sandbox.  We had little rubber Woolworth cars that made wonderful roads and we'd add grass and flowers for trees ... and drew our "houses" in the dirt, our "village" limited only by our imaginations.  I can't imagine how many "mudpies" and "cakes" and sandcastles were made in that old sandbox, too.

Sometimes we were allowed to play outside after supper, and that's when we played hide-and-seek, all over the neighborhood, until it was too dark to see, or until the mosquitoes came out ... whichever came first.

On rainy days, we played inside ... playing games or making countless pot holders on those little metal looms.  We had big plans to sell them to the neighbors, but, of course, that didn't work out because the neighbors' children were busily making their own pot holders to sell to OUR mama.

Every couple of weeks Mama would take us to the library and we got to check out books.  The library was in a wonderful old house near downtown, and, for me, it was a magical place filled with to-the-ceiling bookshelves and little child-size chairs and tables and the smell of old books. I seem to remember the windows being open to let the morning breezes in, and the library's resident cat wandering amongst the bookshelves and sunning himself on the worn wooden floors.  The books had library cards tucked in the front cover and we had to print our names on the card and the librarian would stamp the date when the book was due to turn in. I wonder if libraries still do that these days ... I would like to think so.

Another sweet memory from my childhood summers is shelling peas ... BUSHELS of peas that my grandfather brought us straight from his garden in the country.  I remember getting together with aunts and uncles and my grandparents and everyone sitting in a circle with the bushels of peas in the center ... their purple-stained hands rapidly shelling as they visited and probably reminisced about their childhood summers.  Shelling peas was a social occasion which sometimes turned into a potluck dinner, complete with homegrown tomatoes as big as saucers, purple hull PEAS, corn on the cob fresh from the garden, and the best summer treat of all -- WATERMELON!

Those were such simple, happy days ... when toys didn't need batteries to work ... and you held real books in your lap to read them instead of holding a Kindle, or sitting in a trance in front of a computer screen.  We didn't wake up in the mornings and tell our mamas that we were "bored," or ask what we could do (she'd have probably handed us a basket of peas to shell!) ... we just went outside and PLAYED.

We thought summertime and its magic would last forever ... and I guess it will, in our memories, anyway.

8 comments:

Stacey said...

We have a lot in common. :)

I did all the same things. Our library was walking distance from our house and I loved to bring home big stacks of books. We played outside for hours at a time and always had black feet from being barefoot.

My husband and I still love to shell peas. Cream peas are our favorites. Purple hulls in a pinch.

Happy First Day of Summer!

racheld said...

Janie,

I'm absolutely in awe of the way you paint these pictures---I know you have a way with a lens, but this---you just draw the moments in the air, and I see and feel them, every one.

(Especially the feel of the heat and the stickery shade of the old evergreens skirting down around the packed-dirt floor of our "playhouse" way out back).

I just loved this. I'm copying it into my journal right now, for keeps.

love and,

rachel

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

This is a wonderful remembrance of those 'lazy hazy days of Summer'... the only thing you left out was catching lightening bugs.. Is it ok for me to post a link to this on Facebook?

Beth said...

Your memories stirred up my similar memories of Southern humidity and shelling peas! Beautiful! Libraries today scan the bar code on your card and on the book...I still miss the card catalogs even though I know the computer is faster!.

Pat said...

Janie,

How I enjoyed reading about your Summertime memories. What a wonderful time to grow-up. Would love for our children/gradchldren to have those simple memories. How could anything be any better than Roy Rogers and Kool-Aid ... and the part about playing outside all day ... and the mandatory nap time.

Did you play Jacks and Monopoly too on those rainy days!

Can't wait to read this to my husband; he will enjoy this so much.

Not only are you very good at taking beautiful photos, but your writing skills are wonderful as well.

Yes, there is nothing like the good ole Summertime ... thanks for the memories.

Pat in Tallahassee

Marlene said...

I loved this watercolor you painted for us, and I see myself everywhere I looked. It was a magical time in my life and I am so sorry that the little folk of today cannot safely do all the wonderful things that we did. I treasure those years and am happy that you shared your memories with all of us.

C. M. Designs said...

Hi Janie, Thank you for taking me back to "yester year". I feel like you must have just lived down the street from me.. I think I'm a bit older than you are but what you describe sounds so familiar.

If only the "kids" of today could experience how it was back then. They just don't know what they are missing.

Have a marvelous summer. It's getting hot and humid here in Virginia.. Don't like that !

Thinking about you,
Charlotte

Carolyn said...

OH my goodness, you just described my childhood! What wonderful memories, and I don't remember ever being bored in summer either.
Growing up on a farm, there was always something to do.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
Carolyn