Monday, June 14, 2010

Those Lazy Days of Summer

When I was a kid, I loved summer. No school, no schedule, no worries. I would sleep late, stay up late, ride my bike everywhere, eat popsicles on the front lawn, and go swimming at the neighborhood pool.

Do kids still do that today? Do they still ride their bikes everywhere? I lived in a small town—Flushing, Michigan. Even at the age of 8, my friends and I could ride our bikes to Main Street and go into A&W and get a root beer float. We would ride around all day, stopping home for Kool-Aid or to retrieve something we’d forgotten (Star Wars action figures, water guns, or pom poms—all the necessities). We didn’t have cell phones. We hadn’t even heard of cell phones. My mom didn’t know where we were, and I don’t think she worried.

Maybe it’s just because I lived in a small town. In Houston, I don’t see kids going anywhere without parents. I do take my little one to the YMCA, but there are lots of parents there—sometimes more parents than kids. It’s pretty hot, so maybe that’s why kids don’t ride their bikes. And they all have cell phones.

I used to teach the book Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury to sophomores. It was one of their summer reading books. Or sometimes we would read it at the end of the year, as summer was approaching. For me, that book is the quintessential in summer nostalgia. If you’ve read it, you know just what I mean. If not, give it a try. It’s a collection of short stories with interwoven characters. The protagonist is a young boy enjoying all the things I loved about summer when I was a kid.

So what do you love about summer? What are you nostalgic for?


  1. Pretty much the same things, Shana. I used to ride my bike to the little shopping center in our subdivision, go to the library, and play Capture the Flag with all the kids in the neighborhood. Didn't have a phone and, for the most part, didn't need one. Sadly, I think those days are gone.

  2. When we lived in California, we used to ride our bicycles to the park where they had a couple of huge swimming pools and swam all summer long. We'd ride our bicycles to the elementary school and I always imagined I was driving my car. LOL When I was in 5th grade, we moved to Florida. We lived across from a jungle and used to explore it. And we climbed mountains of sand beyond our canal where they were filling in the swampland. So it was like being at the edge of a jungle, with long ridges of twenty foot towering sand dunes nearby. Talk about a perfect fantasy land to live in!

  3. I remember all the things you did and I didn't live in a terribly small town. It was a bedroom town of a major city.

    But it was perfectly safe to ride our bikes anywhere. At night we'd play outside, even after dark. We'd catch fireflys with our bare hands and keep them in jars.

    Nostaligia has a way of blurring the edges though. We were still warned not to take candy from strangers. Indeed not even to talk to strangers. And those fireflys always died, even if you punched air holes in the lid.

    I wonder what our kids will be nostalgic about? I assume there might be fun-filled moments for them to miss too. At least I hope so.


  4. Shana--I remember reading that book right before school was out one year. It is the perfect book to read at the end of the school year, or to assign for a summer reading book!

    Most of my young summers were before the dawn of "everday" technology (though there were a few kids who had pagers, hahaha!) and it was so much fun to be able to just wander off and not come back until later in the day for dinner :)

  5. I knew I wasn't alone. And I do wonder what my daughter will be nostalgic about. Hopefully not sitting inside playing video games all day!

  6. All of this and stick ball, baseball and kick the can in the empty field. I told my grandson about this once and he said he wished he could have been around before "fun was organized."
    Memory Lane can be a wonderful place.

    Giggles and Guns

  7. Yes, Maribeth! That's exactly what I was getting at. Fun is organized now.

  8. I miss swinging from a palm tree on the beach, catching the crabs, forts in the woods, playing in the river, catching tadpoles, fireflies, sleep-overs, pool-hopping... It was a safer world then.

  9. I'm married to a teacher, so I do still get some of that same "ohmygoditssummer!" excitement building up in our house. We usually use summer months to shoulder our backpacks and travel to some exotic locale. Not sure where we'll be this summer, but I'm looking forward to it!


  10. When I was a teen, my best friend and I would walk down the railroad tracks and sneak into an old abandoned estate that had lots of tumble-down Victorian buildings. It was a "no trespassing" place so once in a while we'd have to run from the caretaker, but it was worth it! A magical place. We'd make up stories about who lived there back in the day.
    I went back a few years ago and it's still there, but many of the buildings are gone.

  11. I absolutely love summer and always have. And I still love the innocence of childhood. One of my favorite memories was going to my grandfather's house and picking blackberries. We would eat them right off the bush. Funny, now I can't imagine eating anything right off the bush without washing it first, but when I was a child, it was a delight!

  12. I remember riding bikes, kick the can, lightening bugs, climbing trees, and scraped knees! Ouch!

    No cell phones, no pagers, no pervs trying to grab you as you were biking. Even when my son was little, 21 yrs ago, I felt safe letting him out the door. At the time we lived in a small town.

    Nowadays...I wouldn't let my dog out, if I had a dog, without protection of some sort or watching the poor thing like a hawk. Doesn't say much about our society does it?

  13. My days at the beach. A friend and I would go down there to look at the guys. :} And later on go to Balboa Island to do the same.

  14. I loved playing "spotlight" as a kid in the street of our block. For the un-initiated, one person, the "spotlight" would stand in the middle of the street on one end of the block and everyone else on the other. The "spotlight" person would turn around and count to ten and we'd run down the block and then hide. When the "spotlight runed back around he or she would try call out anyone who could be seen. The goal was to touch the spotlight before they turned back around and caught you.

    Those were the days when kids could play outside in the street without adult supervision and people parked cars on the street that had bumpers big enough you could crawl on to hide. Obviously long before the advent of car alarms. Sorry I'm totally rambling but oh I have such fond memories!

  15. I love the heat. I am not a cold weather person, so the heat of summer appeals to me.

    I love the flowers and how green everything is. And I love summer vacation! Both the kids being out of school so no hassling with homework, etc., and also the actual vacation where we go somewhere fun. No time to do that during school.

    Nostalgia wise I miss the freedom we had as kids. Safety just isn't what it used to be. I remember literally waving bye to my mom by 9am and not seeing her until nearly dark. No cell phones, so really more than half the time she had no idea where I was. It was wonderful! I feel sad that our generation cannot experience that, at least not in most places.

  16. I remember the year I cleaned 5 houses a week so I could by myself a sailboat - a 14' Sunfish. It was $750. My hair was down past my butt, and so thick, it took two days to dry. I cut a yard of hair off my head, (and still had shoulder-length hair) thinking I'd be on the lake every day, my hair would never dry. I spent my summer sailing around the lake, racing other kids, stopping at the beach and swimming off the boat. That was one of my best summers.