Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer in the '60s

This is an actual pattern
of an outfit my mother
made me one summer.
She made me the pink
checked one with the ruffles!
Back in the Dark Ages when I was a kid, summer was magical. For one thing, it meant school was over for the next few months (we didn't go back to school until after Labor Day). We cleaned out our desks (which was extremely satisfying to me) and took all our school supplies home, which meant I could use them and play school at home (because that's what we did back then). There were so many things to look forward to, such as ...

  • Swimming at the city pool. Of course this also meant swimming lessons and/or swim team practice and swim meets. I'm not sure if it was more of a "time out" for our mom or she thought it would be a great idea, but we did spend some time at the pool. Sometimes she went with us. She didn't know how to swim, but eventually took lessons herself. On a rare occasion that the pool was open at night, sometimes our father would go with us after he finished his days work (he was a farmer and milked cows as well as all the usual summer farm activities). He had a lot of fun, and it was quite humorous to see his "farmer's tan" - pasty white skin everywhere except for his face and arms.
  • Homemade ice cream. This was made the old fashioned way with a crank machine. Ours was green, and one child always had to sit on the top to hold it down while an adult cranked the machine. Then the crucial part came when that adult (usually my dad) took the crank off and the lid off to see if the ice cream was ready. Why? Because he used a lot of rock salt to keep the ice cold, and heaven forbid any of that salt make its way into the ice cream!!
  • Watermelon. It's just a summer thing. Especially in the South. Basically you get a big one, slice it into eight pieces, and eat it outside with no utensils. You had to eat it outside, because where else are you going to spit the seeds? Of course you had to use salt (at least in my family).
  • Produce from the family garden. Sometimes we planted seeds. Sometimes we picked the corn. I don't remember working a lot in the garden, possibly because my parents doubted my gardening skills (with good reason). But once the peas, butter beans, and beans were picked, we would sit outside under the shade tree and shell/pick/snap those veggies. We'd also shuck and silk the corn. Sometimes our mom would let us cut the corn and fill the bags to freeze the veggies.
  • Freezing in our bedroom. Forget central ac. My sister and I shared a bedroom and had one of the window units in our room. Yes, it was freezing at night, but also quite wonderful after a hot afternoon of picking/shelling/shucking and the sort.
  • Vacation Bible School. Back then, VBS lasted two weeks. We learned Bible stories and verses and always had two cookies wrapped up in a napkin for our snack. We did crafts such as a plaster nativity scene (my sister carefully painted hers - I think I just slathered black paint all over mine) and book marks and stuff. Later in junior and high school, I went to band camp.
  • Vacations. Sometimes our dad would get somebody to look after the farm, and we would go on a vacation. Sometimes to Daytona Beach to visit my aunt (where once my brother and I were caught up in a rip tide and my mother came racing to our rescue). Once we went to Atlanta (hey, it was a vacation). Usually we took our aunt or our grandmother with us - six of us in our Cheverolet, with the unlucky one in the middle in the front - right next to our cigarette-smoking dad.
  • Reading books and doing the reading program at the public library. I loved to read, and having few other things to do, this was right up my alley. 
  • The smell of silage. My dad spent the summer preparing food for the animals in the winter. And let me tell you, if you've ever smelled silage, you've not lived. Through summer, at least.
  • Sleepovers with friends. And slumber parties. My friend Kelli would come over and we'd get a drink and pastry from the family store and then go wait for the mailman to come.
Yep, summers were pretty fun back then. And to think, we did it with only two channels on our television, no internet, and no video games!
Today is a gift because: pool time with Lindley and Everley; Everley sitting at her house

No comments: