Boy with a spade on the beach

Those Were the Days!
© Jeanne E Webster. All rights reserved and observed

“Summertime…and the livin’ is easy.
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.”

I’ve always liked that song, mainly for taking me back to memorable family summer vacations spent at my grandparent’s home in Massachusetts. Those lazy, hazy days of summer were the happiest times of my childhood. Small town life in the mid-1940s was kid safe; one could play outside unsupervised from sunup to sundown with no problems. My siblings and I would stuff a peanut butter sandwich in our pockets after breakfast, and off we’d scamper on our all-day carefree adventures.

Our youthful bantam legs struggled as they carried us up that steep knoll to the top of Walnut Hill, then braked as down, down, down we coasted to the placid waters of Lake Mattawa. Dawdling around the lake edges for a while, we’d skim stones across the water, search for baby fish, and wade into the warm clear waters to extract pretty rocks or other treasures not too far out into the lake.

After resting from our arduous one-mile trek, we’d wander through the adjacent pine trees and head for Uncle Brad’s house. We had an unwritten privilege of fishing rights to his pond, and after we had dug up some worms and crawlers, we’d grab some of his many fishing poles and scamper down to the stagnant, bubble-gurgling pond. We were delighted to snaggle luminous bluegills and sunfish, and catfish and brilliant yellow pike were always in bountiful supply. Tiring from catching such “huge” fish, we’d retreat to Aunt Winnie’s back porch and eat our sandwiches and guzzle down her homemade lemonade especially set out for our disposal. It was our habit to linger a while after our repast and visit the hen houses, barnyard and outbuildings. What merriment was had while playing in the granary, jumping on top of the loose corn and smelling the aromas of earth’s harvest offerings!

Next we’d ramble on south a couple of miles towards Aunt Judy’s house and spend the rest of the day interacting with her eleven kids. We’d play hide-and-seek, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and with adult supervision, we could play croquet. We had no store-bought toys; we merely used our imaginations, which in all reality, was pure delight… pretty much. Once one of my cousins dared me to pick some poison ivy and rub it on my arms and legs. So I double-dared him to do it too. Well…the next day he had poison ivy all over his body, and I had nary a blister. To this day I’m not allergic to the ivy!

Aunt Judy filled our tummies with her family’s supper fixings before we headed back to Gramp and Gram’s home. Sometimes, if the sun was still halfway up the western sky, we’d stop off at the churchyard and wander out back to the cemetery to pick the delicious wild strawberries there. They were so tiny but, oh, so succulent!

Summertime…heaven-sent days for earth-bound children; quickly spent and forever gone. Before I knew it, I was back in the classroom staring out of the window, harking back to my adventurous, happy-go-lucky days and anticipating next summer’s escapades.

Oh, to be a kid again!?

4 comments on “Heavensent

  1. Life was so much simpler then, or so it seemed. I never had to worry about what brand my clothes were, did I have the latest electronic devise or who was doing what with social media. You never heard of a group of teens having dinner at a large chain restaurant and being seated at a large table across from where a girl and her family were celebrating her 16th birthday. For whatever reason, the teens previously decided they didn’t like the girl and started beating up on her and the police were called. We didn’t have bulling back in the day. We were far too busy living life and being tired at the end of a long day exploring the woods, rivers, lakes and even our own yards. I think it must be much harder to be a child and/or a teen in today’s world.

  2. camary1996 says:

    I loved your childhood summer story. I had that to but much different. My summers at grandmas was great also. My grandmother lived in Harlem NY and I was from the suburbs so seeing the city life was a treat. My favorite thing was walking down 125th street and seeing the Apollo Theater and getting snow cones from the street vendor. I loved looking out the window from her high-rise apartment to the street below. My grandmother and I watched Johnny Carson every night. She taught me how to crochet and sew. She also made the best fried chicken wings!! Yup…those summer times with our grandmas….gotta be a kids favorite memory for sure!!!

  3. Lovely story! Takes me back to my own youth.

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