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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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