Monday, August 30, 2010


With the start of school, I am reminded of that dreaded by some, beginning of school English project with the above title. In the early grades you could pretty much get by with,”I had fun,” end of story. As we got a bit older, at least a full page was required.

Some kids hated this and I had mixed feelings. I always liked essay type questions or themes for they gave me an opportunity to BS around a subject. Snow the teacher with lots of words so she really couldn't tell how much I didn't know was my motto.

So the essay part I loved. It was what to write about that worried me. Seems everyone but me went somewhere in the summer. Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon, the mountains, the ocean, a dude ranch, visiting family in some exotic place like New York city, the Poconos , Miami, on and on.

We usually stayed put in the summer and our far off family visited us. Not subject matter to interest anyone other than another family member. So I really stewed about that first school project each year. Today I marvel that I had any fears for I had summers to be envied by many and I truly loved them.

When living in Key West, I had a tropical paradise out my front door that I can barely afford to visit today except in off season. We would go fishing with my Dad in a wooden skiff. Using hand lines to land as many as 80 fish in half a day was not unusual. As fast as you could pull the line in, either keep or release the fish. Just re-bait and drop the line in the water and we instantly had another Grunt or Yellow-tail snagged. Both are great eating and could fill a freezer.

We used a regular wooden bucket with a glass bottom to peer at and study the ocean bottom which was full of life in those days. I spent most of my time not fishing but looking in the bucket at the many sights deep in the water. The water was so clear in those days. It gave me a perfect window to an amazing world and fueled a life long interest in marine biology. Damn that movie “Jaws.”

We swam off the seldom crowded white beaches, ate Spanish limes, sucked on tamarind seeds, and drank milk from coconuts. We rode horse back on empty, undeveloped beaches and watched old but free outdoor movies provided by a local trailer park. Just about every evening not watching movies, was spent practicing my burgeoning necking skills with my steady boy friend who was a grand eleven years old.

Once we spent the whole summer living on my uncles large boat, the Mary Louisa. It was anchored in the middle of Garrison Bight and we had to take a skiff to get to our water home. I never got out of a bathing suit that summer except to sleep on a canvas bunk in my jammies. It is today ranked as one of my best summers ever. And yet I still envied those kids who said they went to the Carolina mountains for the summer. Duh.

The years in Ohio were mostly spent on a private lake. Again, I would do my water baby routine. My best friend and I always tried to out tan the other. We were as close as sisters and sometimes fought like sisters, especially when we decided we wanted the same boy.

There were quite a few boys at the lake and we were the only girls their age, yet we always wanted the same one. We were terribly competitive but in spite of that, have remained good friends for 62 years and have been miles apart almost all of that time. That might be why we are still friends :))

View from clubhouse.

When we weren't squabbling over boys, we swam, canoed, fished, had picnics, hunted turtles, played baseball , tennis, camped out in the back yard and rarely made it to town. After dinner and before the sun set, we played kick the can with the neighbor hood kids till dark. I can never recall a time when we sat around thinking how bored we were. There was just too much to do and there wasn't an electronic toy in site nor was there TV so far in the country. I really feel sorry for today's kids.

I would write those things each year for that dreaded paper and still feel some what cheated that I never got to see Old Faithful , bears or buffalo. How foolish youth is in what it deems important and youth truly is wasted on the young ( an expression I hated as a kid. )

Did you ever wish when you were a child that you could have done something special for summer yet when you look back, you realize, no amount of money could have bought the type of summer you did have?

Perhaps you were one of those I envied who did go to the mountains or Yellowstone Park but kind of wished you could have stayed home and played with the neighbor kids instead of being stuck in a car with your creepy sibling.

And how was your summer?

tuesday a m

oops-- i have a bunged up hand and arm from a spill i took yesterday. typing is one fingered right now so my follow up to your comments will be on hold for a while. hope to be back soon.

thank you for stopping by and commenting. it means a bunch


  1. I haven't really had a summer vacation for many years, but there was a moment of real bliss this morning when I went for my walk (I'm trying to do about 2 miles every morning before work). It was grey and raining hard, I did have a moment's weakness when I opened the back door and saw all that water cascading earthwards! Then I thought, "I'll do it anyway!" So I went for my walk with no glasses on (what was the point!),a sun hat on my head, and an umbrella that had seen better days. I enjoyed myself so much! The rain brought back happy memories of
    rainy painting expeditions that I have done, and the odd night and day spent in a tent with rain drumming and pounding on the canvas! As I walked I also thought how easy it is to stay indoors and to miss out on really living, on really feeling the wetness of rain, smelling it, hearing it. Sometimes the best things are right around us where we are!

  2. I used to envy ppl who trotted all over the country :) My summer vacations were always the same - spent with maternal cousins. But we always had such a grand time that the envy was usually short-lived. Yes, I'd give anything to go back in time to those golden days :D

  3. You are one hell of a writer, Patti! When is your book coming out???

    My summers were not as idyllic as yours and we didn't travel much either. We went to Ohio to visit my aunt for a week and did that every summer until I was 17. That year we also went to Michigan, Canada (Niagara Falls), DC, & Va. Beach. After that, mom and dad went to Ohio and I stayed home. Not much to write about in school except for that one trip. Your summers sound fabulous in retrospect, I bet.

  4. I grew up in the country here in Ohio, still live within 2 minutes of there!
    My family went to the mountains of Virginia every summer to visit grandparents, driving those mountain roads is a fond memory...fonder now than then!

  5. I, too, feel sorry for kids today in that they just do not seem to have the kind of carefree, just go out and play time we grew up with. Your summers sound just perfect--spent on the can you go wrong with that?

  6. No honey I was not one of those that you would of envied.
    Our summers were spent close to home with cousins coming to visit us.
    Not until later after I had moved out did my family start taking really great vacations to the mountains and Canada with my younger brothers. I can remember being of envy of them haha
    There was one summer we went to Garner State Park here in Texas and I have to say I could write a book (well maybe a chapter) on my experiences and love for that place.
    Wish we lived closer so we could take a trip together
    Love ya

  7. We had an above-ground pool in our suburban backyard, and my siblings and I spent the summers swimming away the days. We were NEVER bored. When we weren't swimming, we hung out with the neighborhood kids and made up games, put on plays, and once even had a fair in the yard with games and prizes! The link takes you to an old post, and at the bottom is a photo from a 1961 newspaper about our fair!

  8. Thanks for this post! it made me think about my holidays when I was a child! There was never a dull moment.

  9. Hi Patti, My family never went much of anywhere either... I remember my older brother ans SIL taking their kids all over the country during each summer.. I had never even thought much about it until I was a teen, and heard about their trips.

    When I got married and had kids, we could never afford to go much of anyplace.. We did move alot---so I guess living in different places made it feel as if we were on vacations constantly... We'd visit family --but that was about all.

    Luckily, my hubby had an aunt who took my sons out west (she had a place in Phoenex) when they were small---so THEY did get to travel some.

    These days, we usually take a trip around our anniversary (June 23) and also on my birthday (Aug. 5).. BUT--other than a cruise and one other longer trip, most of our trips are fairly short. One of these days--I want to visit the WEST.

    Have a great day/week, Patti.

  10. Now you had summers. We didn't go anyplace or do anything when i was growing up. By the time I got a part time job, my parents, sister and two brothers would go to Michigan to fish and I stayed home, since I was working. But at night I had to go to my girlfriends house and spend the night, my parents didn't want me to spend it alone. Myself I hated fishing. My sister read a lot, from what I was told, and my brothers, being boys were into everything. LOL I never got to go anyplace in the summer for a vacation until I got married. We've been to Montana, and saw Custer's Battlefield. Texas, Fla, Michigan (Copper Harbor)where they had the no seeum bugs, that would bite out kids on the neck and they didn't know it until the blood would run. Last vacation Abe and i took was about five years ago, we flew to Jupiter, Fla to visit our son, stayed at a nice Motel.

  11. We never took or thought about vacations in the summer. We moved almost every summer and sometimes we moved twice a year. My step dad had been a truck driver and was no longer driving but couldn't sit still so he moved us OFTEN.

    I have seen many states and some countries across the ocean, but it was not vacations it was moving and living there.

    This is a great post... your summers were perfect! I too feel sorry for the kids of today, they are missing out on so much.


  12. Peter,
    Your walk in the rain reminds me of the quote on my side bar.
    "Some people walk in the rain, some just get wet."
    You know how to walk in the rain.

    Most likely the things we envied would have greatly disappointed us had we gotten them. Think we were both lucky.

    Thank you so much Judy and I am flattered you think so. I have a hard time with a blog, a book would wreck me.
    At least you got to go somewhere so your essay would be interesting.

    Someone else that got to go somewhere in the summer. You were one of those that got to go to the mountains. That was on my wish list. Ohio is a nice place to be attached to.

    I know, they just have their faces and fingers glued to some electronic device. I wonder what the gerneration after them will see as fun.

    Oooh, Canada would have been nice. If you can write a chaper about Garner State Park--how about a blog post?
    That would be fun if Pearl came alone.

    You sound like us. Our junior auxillary one year put on a carnival to raise money for a water swing. I will check your link. Thanks.

    Reader Wil,
    We really knew how to entertain ourselves didn't we. Think it may be a lost art.

    Think because we moved a lot, my parents thought that ought to do.
    Like you, I have a desire to go west. Arkansas is as west as I have ever been.

    Well at least you and Abe got to go to some neat places. Might be better as an adult when you appreciate it more.

    We had similar upbrings. Though not as much as you, we moved a lot also but just between Florida and Ohio. I did end up in 9 different schools.
    Think it was cool you got to see other countries.
    So agree about kids today.

  13. Oh my, I don't think I've ever thought about that. We never went anywhere in the summer and apparently no teacher asked our class to write about it. Come to think of it, I only know one girl from those days that left town for the summer and she went to Eagle Pass, Texas. Not exactly the vacation spot of the world.

    It was fun reading your good memories.

  14. OK, as a former English teacher, I give you an "A" for your homework! Hindsight is so very clear, isn't it? You already had everything your classmates were traveling to get!

    And to Peter, the first to comment: three cheers to you for getting your exercise in spite of bad weather. You get an "A", too!

    This was a great post, and I enjoyed reading it. Sounds like you had a great childhood and made great friends.

  15. Well, this one certainly spoke to me as I will be ending my summer vacation very soon and I will be going back to school and asking my own students to share their summer memories. Instead of an essay I give them an outline of a beach ball or t-shirt and have them draw something from their summer vacation. They look really cute when displayed.
    How's this summer been for you? What's your favourite memory?

  16. I've fond memories of summer vacations. Even though we had to work during the summer,we usually spent a week at Shasta or Tahoe camping, fly fishing & skiing. Summer wasn't really the best time of year for vacations in our family as my father was a farmer. But he always made time for us, taking us to a local lake or the river to ski in the evenings, or to the movies at the drive-in theater. We made a few longer trips to see family out of state. Great fun, good memories.
    I often wonder what memories the grands will have, they are in so many things & always texting, there is no time to just be!

  17. bMy summers as a youngster were spent (1) Vacation Bible School and then (2) shipped off to spend a month with Mother's 2 old maid aunts so she had a rest from us. A tad boring -- no other playmates except us 3 kids who sometimes were at odds with each other.

    Later I had summer band activities and more than my share of chores (my opinion), my brother worked for Daddy at lumberyard, and my sister ( the youngest, and in my perview my Mother's favorite, had very few duties. Brother got paid, I got a 50 cent allowance, as did sister who did less than any of us.

    Once in awhile we took a weekend trip to relatives which never was much fun as there were few cousins nearby. A road trip of 60 miles with 3 raucous younsters wore Mother out and sorely lested Daddy's temper.

    Now we are old but we vacation when we feel like it anytime. Some would say we are on a 365 vacation. I think I am on a 365 day tour of doctor offices.

    But for me being married to a military man created, at least for 10 years, a type of vacation, because I saw so many places I might not otherwise have, even though we still lived and worked.

  18. So sorry for the spill, I hope you are feeling better!

    My childhood summer were somewhat idyllic, looking back on them now, but I would have given quite a lot to travel abroad, for once, back then. ;-)

  19. Sorry about your hand. What a bummer for a blogger. Wish you well on that really soon.

    You might be the only other person in the world who knows what "tip the can" is. We used to play it every night too, in the summer, that is. Good memories.

  20. Why oh why did it take almost 70 years before I finally realized my childhood home was unusual?
    Our house was just one house in, on a canal, from a really big lake.
    A cabin cruiser was tied up just a few feet from the back door.
    Swimming and Ice skating were just another ho hum part of our existence. Sleeping overnight on the boat, being tied up to the dock while my dad pumped gas, yawn.
    The rowboat, with the exception of the time my younger brother and his friend rowed too far out, lost one oar and had to be rescued, was pretty boring. Sailboats and iceboats were common as fish flies. Bilge water at the bottom of the boat, yea, familiar as the smell of hot dogs.
    The sight of an Ice shanty where men huddled in the dead of winter fishing through a hole in the ice, who wants to take a picture of that?
    Not until I looked at my childhood home from Google Earth did it dawn on me just how few people actually live near a lake.
    Sorry about your injury...may the angels heal you quickly.

  21. Truly idyllic summers.
    How foolish kids are, always wanting what others have, never appreciating the good things close by.

    You didn't have time to get bored; kids nowadays don't have either, but that's because they are being carted from one activity to the next, never allowed to follow their own inclinations. And always watched, watched, watched. There's nothing better for children than to use their imagination.

  22. i am liguored up on pain meds and will give answers a shot. excuse the lack of capitals. this way is easier for now with one finger.

    wish i had gone to your schools. i went to 9 different ones and they all wanted that darn paper.

    thanks for the a and you were so right. i was where a lot of people paid good money to be.

    lynda g
    i definitely like your approach better. much more fun. i could have drawn a stick figure in a bathing suit under a palm tree.

    what a cool dad you had. you know he had to be tired but he gave you of himself. i'm sure today's kids will reminisce of soccor, texting and facebook and worry about their own kids directions.

    army wives really do get to see the world don't they?
    youngest kids do seem to get away with the most--former baby of the family here. remember though, the baby was always envious of the privileges of the older siblings. no one is ever totally happy in their sibling order.
    sure hope your 365 doctor days are almost over.

    ah, but you have made up for it now haven't you? thanks, i am feeling a bit better.

    thanks, the hand is ok.
    tip the can and kick the can are the same game. sure was fun wasn't it?

    sometimes we just have to step way via time to appreciate what great childhoods we had. Yours sounded perfect.
    thanks about the hand, it is getting better.

    you are so right. it is all too human nature to want what the other has. sad commentary.
    so true about kids today. everything is so structured these days while running the parents ragged as chauffeurs and observers. hope creative thinking doesn't suffer as a result.

  23. Hi My Dear....I hope your hand heals very quickly...! It certainly is a drag when things like that happen.

    As to Summers...As Children, ours changed a lot over the years, after my parents seperated and divorced. But I think given that, I enjoyed all the different summers, wherever we were. And the biggest reason was...NO SCHOOL....(lol)

    Your summers sound truly wonderful Patti....

  24. How are you? Are you okay? What happened? Please take care!

    (PS I had a giggle after reading your reply to me that you "could have drawn a stick figure in a bathing suit under a palm tree"! HAHA! Our artistic skills are obviously VERY similar!)

  25. Feel better soon!

    Great post. I spent most all of my summers from 1975 to present on Cape Cod. I don't recall ever leaving the Cape for long periods during summer break. Parents had to work and once I was old enough, I had to work. Spent a lot of time in a canoe on Crooked Pond, riding bikes at the beach or running around in the woods. No need to go anywhere else.

  26. Sorry to hear about your spill, was it the new shoes?

  27. Summer is too hot around here to enjoy the out of doors, waiting for fall. Hope you are ok, beautiful memories of chidhood you have shown us, thanks. If you get to missing florida, I have a place for you to visit with free lodging.

  28. What wonderful times you had ...never mind going away for a vacation. We rarely went away ...holidays away seemed to have little importance ... I did love to stay with my cousins though. The summer break from school just meant more fun in the park across the road with my 'gang'and everyone loved the fact that my mum provided refeshments ...maybe that was why it was 'my' gang lol.

    About 15 years ago my daughter had a holiday of a life time with some friends, in Florida for nearly a month. She said she hated Miami...could take it or leave it when it came to Orlando ...adored St Petes but totally fell in love with the Florida Keys especially Key West ...a place she didn't want to leave.

  29. So sorry ...forgot to say that I hope your hand and arm are getting better xxxx Take care.....please

  30. OOLOH,
    Thanks Naomi, it is getting much better.
    You certainly made up for travel when you got older didn't you. I agree, I loved school but I loved no school equally.

    Linda G.
    Thanks, doing better each day. If I have a regret, it is that I am a very weak artist. My stick figures haven't put on much weight with the years. Welcome to the club.

    Thank you. Much improved.
    From the pictures of your area you have posted, I'd say you had a wonderful place to enjoy summers.People pay good money to go there today.
    Watch out for Earl. Do be careful and stay safe.

    That is a great guess for they could easily have been the culprits but I just was careless and in a hurry and took a header on my porch. Doing much better thanks.

    Linda Starr,
    Thanks so much for the invite. Fortunately for my homesickness, the hurricane season makes me realize why I left in the first place.
    Hope you all keep dodging the bullets.

    Didn't know you were a former "Gangster". lol Sounds like fun.
    Have to admire your daughter's taste. Miami and Orlando are tourist traps but the quaintness of the Keys with the Bahamian architecture and laid back style, makes you feel like you are no longer in the states. My family settled the island so I have a special tie to that tiny chunk of land.
    And thanks, feeling much better. At least I can type.

  31. I spent most childhood summers on the streets of Brooklyn
    we would go to Coney Island or play stoop ball or jacks

    I hope your hand is better!!

  32. Went to Coney island once and am really impressed that you had it for a play ground.
    Played jacks but will have to google stoop ball.
    Thank you, doing much better.

  33. Your past summers do sound pretty wonderful. I don't recall ever having to write that paper. I also do not remember feeling like I missed out. Our vacations were always camping. The outdoors is where all vacations should be. It makes up countless creative hours building forts, fishing, hunting frogs, making a few coins picking berries or weeding a garden. It was all good.

  34. Grayquill,
    You had the best of summers also. I am surprised that no one had to write that paper. I went to 9 different schools and except for high school, it was a ritual.