Summer.

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a Monday Listicles.  It’s not that I don’t love participating, I do.  I’ve been overwhelmingly busy and though I’ve started posts for the past few weeks, they never quite got off the ground.

The topic this week is summer memories.  Since I’ve lived through 36 summers, I have lots of memories.

1.  Just about every Saturday when I was a kid was spent at my grandparents’ house.  That meant ice cream cones on the front steps, walks with my grandfather and running through their sprinkler.  There was also bike riding, roller skating and ball playing.

2.  Usually once a summer, my father would make barbequed chicken.  My mother never grilled anything and she hated when he wanted to make the chicken.  She said you had to parboil it, but it was years before I realized she wasn’t saying hard boil like you do to eggs.  She felt that if you have to cook it inside before you cook it outside, that was too much work.  But the chicken was so good and it was the only thing my father ever cooked for us.

3.  My brother and I shared a bedroom on the second floor. We had one window.  My mother would put a box fan in there pointed out to “draw out the heat.”  I thought she was insane.  It was still hot as hell up there and I remember being up well into the middle of the night before it was cool enough to sleep.  She used to tell us to “lie still” and that would help.  She was full of shit on that one, but that didn’t stop me from saying it to my son when his old room didn’t have AC.

4.  Continuing the air conditioning theme, eventually we got one in our dining room.  It was someone’s old one, which basically meant it barely worked.  My mother would hang sheets over the dining room doorways to keep the cold in.  At night, my brother and I would sleep under the dining room table in our sleeping bags because we wouldn’t fit anywhere else.  It was sort of like camping.  You know, if instead of a tent people camped under tables.

5.  One year they dug up the small lot next to the apartment building across the street from our house.  They were paving it for a driveway.  I still don’t know why, but my father told the people doing the digging to put the dirt in our yard.  There was a mound almost to the top of our swing that whole summer.  The swings were buried, the yard was useless.  My mother was furious.  The dirt was fun to climb on.  Less fun was discovering the hard way that there was glass, nails and rocks in it.  We spent that summer playing kick ball and dodgeball in the street.  I assure you, that was safer.

6.  At the end of the dead end street I grew up on was a vacant lot known as The Lot.  We were absolutely forbidden to go play in there, so every day we’d go up there to play.  There was an old rusty set of stairs like you’d find in a warehouse and lots of other junk that people dumped there.  We picked crab apples (presumably to throw at one another) and looked for snakes.  My mother didn’t really appreciate when we would come home with pets.  She also didn’t like the day my brother came home with a cocaine vial that he found in there.  Or when I came home with this cool thing that I thought looked like a mini toilet seat but was actually a birth control pill container.

7.  We used to put the snakes we found in an old fish tank.  One morning we woke up and the snake was gone.  My mother made us look all over the house and basement for it but we never found it.  I still laugh when I think of the look on her face.

8.  The first summer my mother went back to work I was only 11 and she made us spend days with our grandparents.  My grandfather took us to some historic castle and to the Thomas Edison museum which was actually pretty cool.  We went to a diner and I ordered a hot dog but they were out of hot dog buns so they cut it in half and put it on a hamburger roll.  I thought this was pretty funny.  What’s funny really is the silly stuff that one will consider a special memory.

9.  We drove to Maine from NJ one summer – my grandparents, my mother, my brother and I.  It took about 8 hours.  My grandfather would step on the gas, speed up, take his foot off, let the car slow down. Repeat.  For 8 hours.  Our heads would jerk forward and back, over and over.  Then the car broke down and we stood on the side of the road for awhile.  My brother collected lichens in a Burger King cup and he saved them all summer.  We still make fun of him for those stupid lichens.

10.  And speaking of that trip to Maine, it was my one and only actual summer vacation as a child.  It was wonderful.  We went to restaurants and we spent time with family.  We hung out at some cousin’s farm,  and then at another cousin’s barbeque.  We played badminton and flew this handmade airplane in my great-uncle’s back yard.  My brother and I wrote a play that we performed with the weird little country stuffed animals that my great-aunt made.  They tried to get me to eat baked beans and brown bread from a can (both were nasty) and then they let me eat Frosted Flakes for dinner.  We swam in a lake and went to garage sales and the ladies went to Bingo at night.  The kids stayed behind and caught lightning bugs or some such.  I read a whole bunch of Choose Your Own Adventure books plus a few others I brought with me (in one week. I loved to read!).

That last one, that’s probably one of my favorite childhood memories, summer or otherwise.  Be sure to check out Stasha’s page and read some of the other Listicle participants.

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22 Responses to “Summer.”

  1. I love the mini-toilet seat…ah the innocence of childhood. That plus the cocaine vial…what DO you think people were doing there? Funny. I mean, not really funny, but … funny.

    • At the time I thought it was really cool teenagers who hung out there. Only teenagers would snort coke and go through a whole pack of birth control in one night, right? haha!

  2. Kathy Kramer says:

    I remember those pre-A/C days. I didn’t think the “drawing the heat out” theory worked, either. Around the time I was ten or eleven, when we had our finished basement, we would sleep down in the basement when it was so hot out.

  3. Jackie says:

    Oh Michelle, those stories of your childhood were fabulously funny! I thought we were the only one’s with the curtain hanging in the doorway to keep in the air? We’d sleep in sleeping bags on the floor of my parents room to keep cool. I can only imagine a drive from NJ to Maine. Not my cup of tea, at all!

  4. Ado says:

    “We were absolutely forbidden to go up there, so everyday we’d go up there to play.” You rebel. I wonder what kind of karmic boomerang you’re going to get with this one with YOUR kids?! (-:

  5. Donna says:

    #9 cracked me up! And it is funny how certain things stand out in our memories. :)

  6. Christie says:

    I hear you on the A/C thing. My parents didn’t get A/C until after I left for college so ever single summer stiflingly hot. I would flip around and sleep with my head at the bottom of the bed so it was closest to the window.

  7. Jen says:

    Hahahaha!! Love the “forbidden lot”! And the lost snake? OMG, I would have lost it!!!

    • That lot was so fun and so dangerous! Why my mother let us bring the snake in the house in the first place is beyond me! That sounds more like an outside pet to me!

  8. Stasha says:

    I see the lot was full of hidden treasures 😉 great list! Lot’s revolved around cool air I see…

  9. Michelle, how do I pick which story I like best, but the dirt in the yard and playing in The Lot made me laugh—cheeky kid you! I love Maine too and that vacation sounded just wonderful! Erin

  10. Robbie K says:

    Camping in the dining room and going into forbidden places to play-that is exactly what childhood should be! Loved your memories.

  11. The snake story even freaked me out….

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