For many people, yesterday marked the first day of summer. For children, it's freedom to play, from the first light of day, until Mom calls them in when the sun sets. For adults, it can be the fulfillment of a week or two of vacation after a long year of going to work.
I remember summers as a kid. There were several of us in the neighborhood. The girls were older than me by five or six years. Margaret, who lived in the house to the west of us, then the house across the street, and finally the house on the east of us, taught me all the songs she learned in Girl Scouts. We played with dolls and she'd cut out the clothes for my paperdolls. Anyone remember those? Her brother David taught me how to shoot a basketball and ride a bike. As I grew older, she grew up and had different interests--boys, rock and roll, boys, suntanning, boys... That left me with the boys of the neighborhood, who were mostly a year or more younger than me. Looking back, I think that may be the reason why, in high school, some of my best friends were boys.
Back in those days--yeah, the olden days ;)--we didn't sit in front of the TV all day. There was no cable, no DSL, not even Sesame Street, which didn't come along until I was out of high school. But boredom wasn't something we dealt with often. We each had a bike, often representing our faithful steed, and we rode the neighborhood, whooping and hollering. Swing sets often lost their swings, and we'd hang from the top bar from our knees, pretending to be circus performers. No, my mother never knew. ;) I had roller skates that became skis, and I would ski the slope of the next door neighbors' driveway, because it was steeper than ours. I became an expert at hopscotch and jacks, and learned to Hoola Hoop and walk on stilts, up and down the porch steps. We ran through the sprinkler on hot, summer days, sometimes with blue lips. Going to the neighborhood pool was a rarity.
"Those were the days, my friend." We honed our imaginations in the truest sense. We became the characters in our minds. We were tan and brown and healthy, spending little time in front of the TV, except for an occasional Saturday morning cartoon or Westerns--Annie Oakley, Sky King, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Or old reruns of The Little Rascals and Shirley Temple movies--of which I knew all the songs. ;) There were Mouseketeers--Annette and Karen and Cubby. Yeah, the originals...in black and white, because color TVs weren't around yet. Those were the things that kept us busy on rainy days, along with marathon games of Monopoly and telling ghost stories.
Our childhood summers were learning experiences, full of play, fun, and laughter...and the occasional fight after too much time together. Those lazy days of summer helped make us who we are today. I'd gladly go back to learn more.