It’s a hot, humid summer day in 1953, and I'm an eight-year old girl. A quick bowl of cereal for breakfast (probably Cheerios or Sugar Pops) along with white toast and possibly hot chocolate (the kind you mix up in a pan on the stove top), fixes me up for a day of aimless distractions in the neighborhood.
The first thing I probably do is knock on a neighbor’s front door and ask if a friend can come out to play. Once connected with a friend or two or more, a serious discussion takes place that may result in one or more friends leaving the group. Would it be a morning of bicycles, badminton, balancing on the railroad tracks all the way to the corner store or playing house in the basement?
Cowgirl bicycling would often be my choice. Getting ready to play required the delicate business of taking my bicycle out of the one-car garage without scratching the side of Mom’s car. Next I’d search for the short lengths of rope for reins that I’d used last time I pretended to be a cowgirl on a bicycle horse.
Probably someone would suggest putting cards on the bicycle spokes, which took even more time during the “getting ready” phase.
I had a cowgirl hat and a set of cap guns complete with a two-gun holster. After riding around the block a couple of times shooting caps at each other, we’d probably decide to play something different like softball. That meant rounding up a ball and bat before walking the six blocks down to the school to play on the grass under the big elm tree or setting up make-shift bases in the street.
If memory serves, we often spent much more time getting ready to do something than actually doing it! The very best fun was sitting on the big fallen tree at the end of the street near the train tracks and making up games. Sometimes we’d play “Mother May I” or “Draw a Magic Circle.” Other days, we’d pretend to ride the tree trunk as if we were on horseback and scream for the caboose trainman to toot the whistle when the train roared past us.
Lunch would be a sandwich grabbed from the fridge and a can of pop. We’d have a backyard picnic and then go about the ritual of thinking up something to do for the afternoon like playing Monopoly or jacks on the front sidewalk. Sometimes we’d roller skate on the smooth sidewalk around the corner after spending time searching for a skate-key and clamping on our skates.
Summer days seemed endless, and we didn’t go in for supper until mother yelled for us in a voice that carried across all the backyards in the neighborhood. After dinner it would be kick-the-can out front of the house under the street light or telling ghost stories in the dark until we scared ourselves inside to television shows like “I Love Lucy” or “Red Skelton” before going reluctantly to bed. The next morning it was more of the same, and we all hoped summer would never end.
But, summer did end and the years rolled by until looking back, I long for those days when summer didn’t run out in a flash and fall, winter, and spring speed by in barely a moment. I’m retired, and I move more slowly now, but time seems to slip away like Superman, “faster than a speeding bullet.” I often dream of those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” Do you?