Redneck Review

Monday, May 30, 2005

Summer Vacation...Back in the Day

What did you do on your summer vacation when you were a
kid? Didn't it seem like summer lasted forever? I lived in town
until I was 12, so I had plenty of kids to play with. Oh, I did
live in a trailer. I am a redneck to the bone. But our trailer was
on a lot beside my grandpa's house, so I was a town redneck.

On the last day of school, which was always a half-day, my mom
would take my sister and I out to lunch. We could each bring one
friend. Every summer Dairy Queen was the restaurant of choice.
This was the only time we ate real food at Dairy Queen. Plus we
got dessert too. (It was a much simpler time back then.) I always
chose a cherry Mr. Misty, and drank it too fast and got a
headache. My sister got a Dilly Bar, and I can't even remember
what the friends got, though we both took the same friends every
summer.

Our days were spent running around the neighborhood. At night,
we had to be in by 9:00 p.m. Sometimes that was a pain, because
a good game of Kick-the-Can didn't really get going until after
dark. Then we'd have to go home and wash our feet. That was
the main rule. Wash your feet before bed. OK, this makes us
sound dirty, but we really did take a bath, just not at night. And
we never wore shoes in the summer unless we had to.

During the day we always had something to do. Sometimes we
played Army Men. All 3 of us girls (my sister, our neighbor,
and I) played together, and didn't even want to mix in with the
boys unless they invited us across the street to help dig their
dugout in the backyard for a baseball game (yes, it was just a
big hole) or to help build their miniature golf course in the gravel
by the street to play golf with marbles and twigs. My sister and
neighbor and I would each get a pillowcase and a BB gun and
an umbrella, and we would each choose a cherry tree in my
grandpa's yard as our post. The umbrella was to use as a
parachute when jumping off Grandpa's picnic table. The
pillowcase was a sleeping bag. The BB gun was to shoot cats,
but we couldn't do it when the neighbor was with us, because
they were her cats.

When we tired of this game, we played horses with Jane and
Johnny West and all their accessories.

We walked up the creek and dug out some clay and made pots
and painted them with watercolors. (Uh, make a note: the clay
absorbs the watercolors, so the pots all turn gray again. And if
you leave them on your patio to dry while you run to the store
with Mom, the boys will come over and smash them to bits).

We built a tank out of an old wooden phone booth crate and
some 2 x 4's. Then we sat in it and pointed our BB guns at
anything that moved, which was usually an unsuspecting enemy
terrapin.

We played tennis against the back wall of the neighbor's shed.

We rode the wagon down the hill, screaming all the way because
wagons don't steer very well with two people in them, and if we
didn't make a sharp left at the bottom into Lewis's yard, we
would run off the sidewalk and into the creek 5 feet below.

We rode bikes down to the next block to get my dog, Fuzzy,
that a mean boy named Nelson had kidnapped (I thought.
Fuzzy probably just got bored and moved).

We "explored" the culvert that ran under the road.

We took our $.50 bi-weekly allowance to Lupkey's store one
street over and one block down, and bought penny candy:
red licorice whips, Nik-L-Nips, wax lips, jawbreakers,
dots on a strip of paper, gum, Charms suckers with the chance
to win a free one, Sixlets, Chick-O-Sticks, Bit-O-Honey,
Fire Balls, red hots, Boston Baked Beans, caramels, Sugar
Daddies, Sugar Babies, Safety Pops, Pixie Stix, Lemon Heads,
Turkish Taffy, and probably more that I can't remember.

We got to have a "shower bath" when the weather was hot
enough. This means we put on our bathing suits and ran around
in the spray of Grandpa's garden hose and made rainbows.

We put the long lounge chairs outside on the patio and slept
outside. My mom made us popcorn and cherry Kool-Aid, and
we couldn't wait until dark to put on our pajamas and get that
party started. No TV. Sometimes radio. And books. Yes, we
would actually look at books while waiting for dark.

We played gymnasts on a square metal pipe frame that came out
of my grandpa's pickup truck.

We caught June Bugs and tied strings on their legs and let them
fly around us in circles. We picked their shells off tree trunks and
wore them as fine jewelry. I think a June Bug is really a cicada.
We thought it was funny because my Grandma and Grandpa
always called my dad "June." That's because he was a "junior"
and they just shortened it to "June."

We went to Grandpa's cabin on the St. Francis River and walked
barefoot down the road to the dock, catching little frogs and
putting them in Styrofoam cups to race in the water when we got
to the sandbar.

If it rained, we went to the neighbor's shed to play pool, read
5-year-old TV Guides, and look at the deer heads on the wall.
Or we cooked marbles in Grandpa's basement. The recipe?
Take an old coffee can and fill it 3/4 with water. Put it on the
burner and turn on the stove. Add marbles. Let boil about 5
minutes. Turn off and let cool. The purpose? Pretty cracked
marbles that are better to trade with the boys, because they
don't know how to cook marbles.

Evenings we would go up in my grandpa's yard and watch
him water his trees. He would let us drink from the garden
hose. Then we would roll down the hill of his front yard to
the sidewalk--over and over, until the Tastee Freeze man
came. Then we bought ice cream cones, and got a little plastic
ring with Mr. Tastee Freeze on it.

Mom took us to the city library to check out books every
two weeks. I loved the Black Stallion books, as well as
Misty of Chincoteague, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Hardy
Boys, Henry Huggins, Ramona. Anything and everything.
I loved to read. When we went to the A & W for root beer
floats with Grandma and Grandpa, I took a book and laid
up in the back windshield (as I called it) of the car, reading
as we passed under streetlights.

Sometimes Mom took us to Columbia Park to the big
swimming pool. She didn't just leave us, she took a lawn
chair and sat outside the fence.

We were pretty much spoiled. We didn't have to worry
about being kidnapped, or being on time for ball games,
or taking lessons, or going to summer school. Summer
really was summer vacation.

Are any of you so old that this brings back some memories
for you?

2 Comments:

  • At 12:02 AM, Blogger Raehan said…

    I don't know how old you are, but I'm 36 and I identify with at leas 95% of it. Not the june bugs, though.

     
  • At 2:07 AM, Blogger deadpanann said…

    Bliss!

    I'm not very old (26) but I can still relate to alot of that because we're hillbillies too and there wasn't much risk of kidnapping around here, at least back then (and not really now). The greatest danger we faced was being bitten by a snake or falling and breaking a leg while jumping into a culvert somewhere. (We did that too--the huge ones that run under the road are a GREAT place for catching frogs.) Of course the amount of allowance and the names of the candies are different---my friend and I used to get $5 to split between the two of us, which we had to earn by stacking lots of wood, and we would walk to the store (through a field behind the house that eventually lead to a little store near the highway) to buy suckers and now 'n laters and gum and strawberry flavored cokes (excuse me--strawberry flavored SODAS) which we would carry to the baseball field at the Baptist church next door to the store and sit on the hot metal bleachers to eat and drink. Then we'd turn on a waterhose that was always left out there and soak each other and get muddy running around in the dirt on the field, and nobody ever noticed or told us we couldn't be there. Now I bet you couldn't make it within a mile before someone would run you off for fear of being sued.

    I hope by the time I have kids I've managed to acquire a house in a place like that, so my kids can have that freedom. I can not imagine growing up in a subdivision, or in a place where you can't disappear at dawn and come home at dark and not have anyone worry about you in the meantime.

    Sorry for being long-winded. You took me back. Great post.

     

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