Ah, summertime. School is out of session. Kids stay busy playing or embarking on one summer adventure or another for the first couple of weeks.
Then they hound the slop out of their mothers until school starts back for the fall term.
In some ways, summertime has not changed since my own childhood. Kids are still active bundles of energy trolling the house looking for something to do. Mothers — work at home or away — are still frazzled trying to figure out what to do with their offspring ‘til school starts back again.
The Parental Units used to talk about their summers spent — for my mother — working in the garden at her grandparents’ house, wading in the creek with her cousins, and going to The Palace Theater in Athens to watch movies all afternoon for ten cents. If they were really flush, the kids would stop by the drug store on the way home for a nickel ice cream.
We have a few photos of some of my father’s summer exploits with his buddies here in town. Billy Summerour, Robert Sims, Wallace Mayne, Bert Patrick and others prowled barefooted through the streets of Winder in search of some sort of mischief. With their daddies all working somewhere downtown, though, their escapades never got too far out of hand. If so, somebody’s belt was not far from their behinds.
My brothers used to talk about going to Family Camp in Dahlonega at Camp Glisson. Not long ago, Carol Rutledge Glass shared with me a photo of a truck full of folks from Winder headed up to Glisson for a week.
There on the front row were squatted my two eldest brothers — about six and eight years old at the time — barefooted with the legs of their dungarees rolled up ready to wade in Cane Creek Falls.
I’ve heard about Family Camp. The Heiress hosiery box holding photos from the 1950s attests to the fact I was present. I just don’t remember anything about it. That’s the worst part about being the youngest child: A lot of neat stuff went on either before I got here or before I was old enough to be aware it was happening, so I don’t share those memories my siblings and their contemporaries so vividly recall.
By the time I got to be much more than knee high to a grasshopper, the Parental Units had bitten the bullet and made the move to “the country”. I remember my folks telling us that my grandmother was most distressed that we were moving off and leaving her. It was a whole two miles but, to her, we may as well have jumped ship for Atlanta instead of Sherwood Forest off Pea Hill just north of town.
Rather than prowling Georgia Avenue and New Street, we were now exploring “the woods” and the Sims’ cotton field before tromping over to Cedar Creek. Our neighborhood bore all the earmarks of being a built-in playground what with all the houses filling up with families that had kids.
On summer mornings, our mothers might pack a car full and take us to arts and crafts at the school cafeteria. Sponsored by the recreation department, it was about the only introduction some of us had to making and painting Plaster of Paris creations.
In the afternoons, we’d go to the library for the Summer Reading Program. I have quite a collection of certificates and stars proving that I read a whole bunch of books on hot afternoons when nothing moved but the oscillating fan I was sitting under.
We consumed gallons of lemonade, tons of popsicles, and ice cold Co-Colas in real glass bottles filled to the brim with salted peanuts. We drank from the garden hose ‘cause our mothers wouldn’t let us in the house after we’d been playing outside. And we learned about frozen candy bars from the concession stand at the City pool.
Bike races down the hill, camping in the back yard, playing “Gone with the Wind” or Civil War or spending the afternoon in the sprinkler — these were the things that occupied our time in the 1960s. As soon as it got dark enough, we’d meet under the street light to catch lightnin’ bugs or launch a game of “Ain’t No Boogers out Tonight”.
My brothers played baseball out at the Lions Club. Mother and Jo Farmer would take their freshly scrubbed and pajama clad daughters to the drive-in movie so they could watch a movie in peace with their offspring bedded down in the back seat after the cartoon.
What I wouldn’t give for the chance to re-live those summers. We didn’t know how good we had it, did we?
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at email@example.com.