Monday, June 21, 2010

Crazy Daze of Summer

Today is the first day of summer. Remember when you were a kid, and the whole summer vacation stretched out before you? That first morning of sleeping in, then waking up and thinking that the only thing you had to do that day was play? Nothing felt better than that!

I grew up in a whole different time, when parents didn't have to worry about "stranger-danger". My siblings and I played outside all day long, only reporting in for lunch and supper. We didn't rely on video games or TV to amuse us. (Okay, once in awhile we watched Bozo's Circus.)

photo courtesy of

We played outside. We played hard. We got dirty, and sweaty, and we loved it.

We jumped rope, played hopscotch, statue maker, red light/green light, and tag!

There were over 50 kids on our block, so chances were that I was never without a playmate. One of the kid's father drove a semi-truck for a living. So the kid had these huge inner tubes from the truck's tires to play with.

photo courtesy of

They were great in the pool AND for rolling kids. We could actually curl up inside one and get pushed for a thrill ride as the tire bounced along and picked up speed hurling down the slanted sidewalk. I still get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about that! I also feel like vomiting.

Of course, today's model looks like this:

But they can't be anywhere NEAR as fun! Where's the challenge of trying to fit your body into the small space (the newer one looks wider), avoiding the valve stem, touching the hot tire, AND getting black all over your clothes and body?

I loved going to the park. They were not the sissy parks of today. There were no "safety" issues. The scarier, the better.

And just about everything was made of metal.

Take this merry-go-round for instance.

photo courtesy of www.oldfashionedpretty

We'd all pile on, and one or two kids would volunteer to push. They'd grab the metal bar and run as fast as they could around the circle. We would hold on for dear life, our little hearts pounding in anticipation, our heads thrown back in glee, our eyes closed, hair whipping around, laughing and screaming all at the same time, and inside hoping that a) we didn't go flying off or b) that we didn't puke all over ourselves. Ahh, good times!

And the swings! The swings of yesterday were oh so tall.

photo courtesy of

The chains from the swings seemed to go up to the sky! It would take FOREVER to get going, and I was lucky if someone came by and gave my swing a push. The best was if they gave me an "underdog", where the person pushed me so high that they ran under my swing without ducking their head! So I would be off to a great start and I'd keep pumping my legs back and forth, back and forth! When I went forward the wind rushed at my face and blew my hair back as I went higher and higher, then I started the backward drop and my stomach got butterflies in it and the ground came up suddenly and for an instant I thought I would crash but the momentum kept me going backward and I continued up. My hands got sweaty from gripping the metal chain so hard as I waited for that big moment, pumping, and pumping until I was almost as high as the vertical bar on top of the swing set and then it happened! The chain gave that jerk that scared the bejesus out of me and thrilled me both at the same time and I knew I reached the epitome of the perfect swing. So then I'd give my legs a rest and let the swing come down to a more decent height, before launching myself off of it screaming, "GERONIMO!" and hopefully not breaking an arm or a leg when I landed on the hard dirt.

But the TRUE sign of summer was being scauled by the metal slide. Who didn't burn their buttocks and back of their legs on those metal slides during the scorching hot days of summer! Sometimes it was so hot that our body parts would actually STICK to the metal, like touching a hot iron with your finger. If we had water with us, or if there was water nearby, we throw some on the slide, trying to cool it off. But most of the time we just were stupid brave and slid down the hot metal of lava. After a few kids it seemed to cool off anyway. Those slides were TALL*, too. Just walking up all the steps to the top of the slide was a feat in itself.

To make the slide more slippery, we would bring some waxed paper from home. Then we would "polish" the slide with it. I don't remember who told us this little tidbit, but it really worked. We weren't happy till someone slid off that slide and landed on their butt!

The other day I was with my sister, Pam, and brother, Bob. I asked them if they remembered "polishing" the slide to make us go faster.

Pam didn't remember.

Bob said, "Nah. I brought Pledge to the park."

My eyes grew wide. "What?" (Why didn't I think of that?)

Bob laughed. "Are you kidding me? I didn't polish slides! I was busy doing other things!"

Later on that evening I brought up another childhood memory and Bob didn't remember it. He said, "You've got to remember, I had that severe concussion when I fell off the back of that car."

Pam said, "Wait, I had a concussion, too, when Toby, (the neighbor's dog) ran between my feet and I fell and hit the back of my head!"

And I said, "Well, I, too, had a concussion. Remember when I fell down those cement stairs with my tricycle and lost my memory for a week?"

We all had a good laugh and realized that we have more in common than just being born on the same day. (Yes, my twin sister and I were born on my brother's birthday. He has never forgiven us.)

Whenever we can't remember something, I always want to ask my other sister, Linda. She seems to remember EVERYTHING.

I said to Bob and Pam, "You know, maybe there's something to Linda remembering things. She's the one who didn't have a concussion growing up!"

*Even the swing sets for the backyard must have been tall. I remember when our neighbor, let's call her "Suzie" was swinging on her swing. Suzie swung so high that she fell off her swing and landed in their pear tree! She was stuck and couldn't get down. Pam was over there at the time and had to get Suzie's dad, explaining that "Suzie fell up there!" Priceless!


Brian Miller said...

the first time i ever ate chicken cordon bleu i was at a friends house...we then went to the park and got on one of those merry go got nasty really fast...and may be the last time i ever ate it...i cant remember, i had a concussion soon...

real quick another funny story. my sister dated a wrestler in HS who once walked into our house holding his tush and proceeded to tell us he had a concussion. no joke and he was serious as a fence post...and just as smart...

Bonnie said...

What great recollections. I was doing so many of the same things. You didn't mention swimming lessons, roller skating or baseball games!

Anonymous said...

I loved playing all summ er with the kids on the block....dirty, bruised it was awesome!

loved the memories ;)

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

oh - this post brings back memories. how about roller skates with the metal keys? catching fire flies at night? hide and seek? playing tag or "statue"?

Eva Gallant said...

Your summers sound at lot like mine! Ah, those were the days! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

Rae said...

I really enjoyed reading this. It reminds of my old summers. That was a great way to grow up. We were fortunate to have such a childhood.

Melissa B. said...

I pine for the days when kids could just be kids. I think our imaginations developed more fully, which is a good thing, correctamundo?

Cheeseboy said...

Did you live on concussion ave? Your childhood sounds like a dream. People say that kids don't play anymore, but they haven't watched my boys. They play hard and all day long and NOT on the Playstation either.

Gail said...

Sweet memories, you were truly blessed to survive your adventerous child hood. Sounds wonderful.

EG Wow said...

I wonder if today's kids will have the same fond memories we have of our childhoods. :)

Snowflake said...

What wonderful memories!!! Our school playground also had teeter totters (seesaws to some). We used to imagine we were riding horses and called it "bucking bronco"!!!

Valerie said...

I've just been to childhood and back... loved this, Pat. I never has concussion but do still have a scar over the eye from one of those metal swings... I was too stupid to move out of the way. Things change, and not always for the better.

Nancy said...

You brought back great memories! I lived the same era - leaving in the morning and coming back when it was dinner time. We had great fun.

But I have to wonder - what was Bob doing with the Pledge?

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Enjoyed your memories -- shared many. I remember really just running free all day every day in the summer.

Our playgrounds all had these things called 'giant strikes, a row of swinging metal stirrups on a ladder that you jumped up or climbed down to grab ahold of and then swung hand over hand (like Tarzan) from one to the next with your feet swinging and kicking. The only thing was if you fell or let go of one it could swing back and whack the kid behind you but good! And of course if (when) you fell off of any of that playground equipment back then, you landed on hard concrete or gravel.

What didn't kill us made us stronger! Fun times!!

Joann Mannix said...

You brought up so many memories here. And all so very true.

We had lawn jarts growing up because that's a good toy to give to a child, a dart you throw in the air. And yes, my brother got a jart lodged in his head one time.

We lived in the country, but there was a neighborhood right near our house. My mom had a large gong she would ring at dinner time to bring us home. She would have no idea where we were, but that gong was so loud and so far reaching, we knew to come home at the end of the day when we heard that.

I can't imagine doing that with my kids these days.

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misslynda said...

Oh, Pat, I remember all those fun things, too - - the swings, etc. - - but I did not have a concussion. However, our cousin made a rope swing in the barn that broke and I fell at least three feet to concrete and landed on my tailbone. Guess where I have arthritis today?!!! My back gets so stiff on long car rides.

WhisperingWriter said...

Bozo the Clown would scare me. Mainly because I hate clowns.

I miss Merry-Go-Rounds. Many parks got rid of them because of safety issues. Hmph.

Krista said...

This is brilliant!!! I share so many of the same memories... including the concussion-blurred ones! ;o)

Betty said...

Your memories sound a lot like mine.
Love this post, Pat, so beautifully written.
I loved going to the movies..a lot.
~B xx

Donna B said...

Oh Pat, this post brought back so many fun memories! We didn't use tires, we used the cardboard from TVs and new appliances to slide down the hill behind our house.

We climbed trees, made forts in the woods, played hide and seek, Cowboys and Indians, Robin Hood and I had an imaginary horse! I learned how to skate when a neighborhood boy chased me with a gopher snake! I literally ran up hill on them.

We played all day, and had to be home by the time the street lights were on. Mom would come out on the porch and yell for us if we were not home, and heaven help us if we did not hear her yell! Then she would put us on Restriction and we were lucky if we could have a friend over to play Chutes and Ladders.

I had to wait until I was 14 to get my two wheeled bike. My girlfriend and I would read the LOST and FOUND section and set off on our bikes to find the lost items and claim the reward! Great times in deed! My biggest worry was not getting put on restriction and having to make my bed.

Mama Zen said...

You know, you can't find a merry go round on a playground anymore!

becky said...

I just went over the "stranger/danger" thing w/ my niece who just turned 8. Just so happens they have a sex offender living down the street! :(
I don't remember ever having to fear like that growing up.

SquirrelQueen said...

Great memories Pat, I don't remember Bozo's Circus (maybe it was the concussion I got that erased it from my memory) but everything else was part of my childhood.

It was fun being a kid back then.