Friday, August 24, 2007


This week marks the last week of summer vacation for my son. Come Monday, he is off to Middle School for the start of 7th grade (his middle school only has two grades in it - 7th and 8th). So we've been doing all those fun things to get ready: going to open house last night to meet the teachers, picking up the various back-to-school supplies on the list, going through his closet to see what clothes no longer fit and shopping for what's needed to fill in, etc.

He really can't complain too much - he had a pretty active summer. We all took a week vacation at the beach in the Outer Banks in late June. He went to a couple specialty camps at the YMCA (for soccer and hiking/fishing) besides the usual day-camp stuff. He had a week up in the mountains at the Boy Scout camp. And he even got to spend a few days up with his grandparents in a different part of the mountains. Given that this is only the second summer he's had off (he was in year-round school until we moved in the Fall of 2005), that's pretty good.

I can't help but think about my own summers growing up in Dunkirk, NY. As a kid, we didn't really go away in the summers. Summer was one of the best times of the year, weather-wise, there. Most of my free-time was spent hanging out in the neighborhood on Green Street, riding bikes or having all day kickball tournaments or just hanging out and doing nothing much. If you could get some spare change from your parents, you could go down to Boothie's Big Dipper for an ice-cream cone or to Country Fair to buy some candy and soda pop.

Fridays always meant Junior Golf in the mornings at Shorewood, with lunch afterwards and time at the pool. As I got older and enjoyed the game more, my cousin, my brother and I would increase our frequency of golf/pool days to four during the week (not counting any weekend swimming until my father finished his round of golf and was ready to drive us home).

It was also a time for reading - for fun. I'd scour various places about town - US News, Matt's News, Pete's newsstand, Mary's corner store, drug stores - anywhere I could find a spinner rack with comics to pick up new stuff to read. As I got more into fantasy and sci-fi books, the Book Nook became an invaluable place to go for all my paperback novels. And I'd use that time to write too - to scribble down tales on loose-leaf notebook paper or, in later years, pound them out on my typewriter (first a manual, later an electric) using two fingered typing (until I got into high school and learned the proper way to do it).

Somehow you just don't forget the taste of a cool Slush Puppy trickling down your throat, drank from a plastic baseball team cup. Or sitting on your towel on a warm sidewalk while you decided which flavor of Starbust candy you want to try next. Or trying one more time to dive off the low board and see how far you could swim underwater along the length of the swimming pool.

Those are the things I remember when I recall the summer vacations of my childhood.

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