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Summer Memories + Giveaway by C.H. Admirand

Summer was always my favorite time of year. When we were kids we’d take turns staying with our great aunt and great-grandfather in their rambling Victorian in Maplewood…playing hide and seek in and around their yard and ancient Mimosa tree, running up and down the back stair case from cellar to attic, getting yelled at for trying to ride the dumb waiter from the second floor down to the basement, catching lightning bugs, and walking to the park…

Or our grandparents’ summer home in Spring Lake…swimming in the huge salt water pool at the South End Pavilion...

Playing in the sand or the ocean, walking across the wooden bridges spanning the lake to feed the ducks...

Eating ice cream at Peterson’s or catching a movie at the Ritz...both fixtures of the community just a half a block from the beach...sadly both long gone. Walking on the boardwalk past the three huge hotels, built at the turn of the century that heralded a forgotten era…on the 'Irish Riviera.' The Monmouth Hotel, the largest of the three hotels gracing the beach, was built in 1876, destroyed in a fire in 1900, but then rebuilt in 1904, but then razed in 1975...

The Warren Hotel was built in during this era and demolished in 2001...

only the Essex and Sussex Hotel remains...built in 1914 and refurbished in 2002 as a luxury rental for seniors.

My Uncle Lee and Aunt Rosemary Purcell were married at St. Catharine's Cathedral in Spring Lake in 1956. We used to walk to church from my grandparents summer home on Monmouth Avenue. I loved looking up at the dome and the beautiful stained-glass windows....

Then there were the yearly vacations we always took, visiting historic places that my mom always insisted were part of our vacation that year. By the time I turned sixteen, we’d been to 40 states, but my favorite vacation will always be the one we took when I was a freshman in high school and drove out to California. We drove out the southern route, stopping to visit relatives in West Virginia and Tennessee on our way. I remember my surprise seeing the Alamo snuggled between two large buildings on either side in the pouring rain and wondering why it wasn’t all by itself like I’d seen it in the movies. The majesty of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Sonora Desert Museum. The beauty of the desert…the earthy colors:  brown, rust, tan, sage green and the brilliant blue of the sky…so clear and bright that it hurt your eyes if you looked up at it.

I remember asking my dad why they had flash flood warning signs, when the road wasn’t all that hilly, but had dips every so often. Having lived in out West as a kid, he explained about the hard-packed dry earth and the torrential downpours that would wreck havoc on ground so hard and dry with so much rainwater, it couldn’t possibly soak it up fast enough to keep it from filling in those gullies and dry as dust streambeds. 

One of his favorite keepsakes from his childhood was a horned toad that my granddad had stuffed for him and sat in a place of honor on my gram’s dressing table until she moved in with my uncle and his family in Tennessee. It was kindof moth-eaten and the stuffing was coming out, but to someone who hadn’t grown up with horned toads, it was almost a mini baby dragon...hey I was a kid! LOL. :)

I’ve often drawn from that favorite cross-country trip when writing my Irish Western Series and more recently my cowboy trilogy for Sourcebooks. What has remained true is my love of the western culture, the land, the people, and especially those heroes from my youth…cowboys. 

What is your favorite summer memory? Leave a comment and your email to put your name in the hat to win a copy of DYLAN so you are all caught up and ready to read book three...JESSE releasing July  3rd!

 Twenty days and counting until JESSE hits town...


  1. Ahhh, memories! Momma gathering up every kid from our house to the dam, which was not a cuss word in my world but the swimming hole, and taking us all to swim all afternoon...and there were plenty of those horny toads in our world. We used to tie a thread around their neck and stake them out in the yard, rub their bellies to make them shut their eyes and bet on who had the smallest one! Loved your post for bringing back those sweet memories!

  2. Morning, Carolyn.three cheers to your momma for taking you to the swimming hole as kids.

    My mom was always sad whenever she spoke of the one she'd gone to as a kid--and like the Joani Mitchell song--they paved paradise--their swimming hole, affectionately known as the 'pond hole.' Even years later, when I was a kid, it was still called the pond hole and the place to park down behind the stores and movie theater in town. It always made me sad.

    How cool that you actually used to catch horned toads and play with them as a kid. I'm guessing their belly is the safest place to pet one. :)

  3. Ohmigosh, Carolyn, did you get warts? That was always the saying when I was a kid! :)

    I lived in a suburb of Sacramento, California, and we rode our bikes to the swimming pool park, fed the ducks, rode in a surrey, red and white striped top, the fringe hanging off the edge as we peddled it along our street (it seated four kids)...

  4. We always went to the Smoky Mountains for our summer vacations. I have memories of seeing bears and eating at our favorite pancake house. We had a creek behind our neighbors home we use to sneak off to to swim.

  5. Summer memories of spending time on my grandparents farm in a smaal rual town name Bevier, Missouri, we'd spend all summer, helping baling hay and picking corn and other veggies to sell, and hanging out with cousins and their friends, everyone would come and hang-out on number 8 that was my grandparents house number and it was on the hill,we would have fish fries or spaghetti dinners and afterwards we woould have homemade ice cream.What we got older all the boys would hangout and we'd play our stero loud and dance even my uncle and aaunt and my grandfather would dance,he taught how to 2-step and to jitterbug..that was when I recieve my first kiss my a guy who i was in love with of course he married someone else but it was thise memories that I'll never forget...Dylan is on book I haven't read yet but the first 2 were hot!

  6. Hi Terry - sounds like a fun summer, too :) You don't see many kids riding bikes in the neighborhood since ours grew up. I loved listening to the ducks as they gobbled up the bread;) The surrey with the fringe on top? Like in Oklahoma? Love the image!

    I never got warts from catching toads or frogs or salamanders! :) Did you know that horned toads are actually a type of lizard that shoots blood out of it's eyes to scare predators away?

  7. The Smoky Mountains are so beautiful! Isn't it great to have fun memories of sneaking out to swim in the creek and eating pancakes?

    I don't mind bears at a distance, but really don't like it when them come to close to our yard.

  8. Hi Carole - how wonderful to have spent the summer baling hay and picking vegetables on your grandparents' farm. Fish fries and spaghetti dinners with homemade ice cream...and then dancing? Sounds like the perfect summer to me. I love to dance.

    I learned to jitterbug during gym class at school, and the two-step when I gave my hubby western dance lessons one year for his b-day.

    Thanks for the kind words, I'm sooo glad you enjoyed reading the series so far.:)

  9. CH, I love learning interesting things--but blood shoots out of their eyes? You'd think that some predators would smell the blood and believe the critter was ready to eat!

    One thing fun about the swimming pool park--it had 2 Olympic sized pools and one kiddy pool--it also had a refreshment stand. Saltwater taffy and snowcones were big!

  10. Isn't it weird? If you google the horned toad images, one comes up with someone holding one with tiny droplets of blood on his hand and on the toad.

    Maybe it's like those really colorful tree frogs and certain bugs, etc. that are so beautiful, but deadly to eat.

    Sacramento sounds like a wonderful place to grow up.

  11. My favorite summer memories are catching fireflies and putting them in a jar with small holes poked in the lid, watching firework displays on the 4th of July, and fishing with my parents.

  12. Wow, what beautiful old hotels! It's so sad some of them are no longer there.
    My favorite summer memory is going to my grandparent's farm in Maine. We'd make side trips to Bar Harbor every year. I think the Maine coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world - other than the West, of course!

  13. I loved your trip down memory lane! You were blessed to have such wonderful growing up years.

  14. For me it was trips to the library and being able to read for pleasure whenever I wanted.


  15. I am split in favorite summer memories. The family picnics in a local park and playground were a treat with us kids raring to go feed ducks, play on the monkey bars, or watch theater in the park. However, on particularly sweltering days, the library was my place of choice. We didn't have cooling at home and the escape from the heat was welcomed. Add that to the joys of picking up random books or settling down in one favored section to treasure hunt for stories. That was wonderful.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  16. One of my fav summer memories was when my oldest brother and I spent a couple of weeks at cottage with my two cousins, my aunt and Uncle and my Nana.. My papa came up for a few days, but he didn't like it so much, was not a cottage person. We later learned that Papa was sick and I died not long after that summer. I loved that we four grandchildren had that time with him that summer.

  17. Crystal B - I still like watching the fireflies dancing in the yard after dark and am looking forward to our darling grandbaby catching them!

    When our kids were little we used to watch Jimmy Houston's fishing show and he always kissed the fish he caught...the first time our daughter caught a fish at 4 yrs old...a pumpkin-seed sunny...she kissed him right on the lips!

  18. Joanne - I loved our trip to Maine. I've been there twice now, once with my family and once with my darling hubby to attend a publisher's event and have to agree. It is beautiful.

  19. Thanks, Amelia. I was extremely lucky...times were different when I was a kid. When our kids were little they were always going in so many different directions that our summers were split between their attending church camp and the soccer field...which left no time for family vacations, but we still had fun down at our lake and with family. :)

  20. OMGoodness, catslady! What a great memory! I loved walking to North Island and borrowing books from our library's couldn't always drive us to the library!

  21. Picnics with family and the park are such good memories...and the library.

    Isn't it great how so many of us are linked because of our love of reading?

    I used to get in trouble for not coming when I was called to do chores...because I just had to finish the chapter!

  22. Kathleen...what a wonderful memory to have and to be able to have shared with your cousins.

    Fun times spent with family will always stay close in your heart.

  23. I think mine must be swimming with friends. I probably think about that a lot because I've been taking my daughter swimming so much lately. I remember swimming for hours, getting out and drinking a Coke and eating a Snickers, and that Snickers never tasted so good!

  24. Very nice post. I liked going to the beach with my family.


  25. My favorite summer memory is running through the sprinklers as a child, and then someone got a slip and slide and we were in heaven!

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  26. Hi Shana - that sounds like fun and I totally agree about the coke and snickers bar! LOL.

    I remember swimming until our fingers and toes were pruney!

  27. Thanks, BN:) The beach with family is always fun!

  28. OMGoodness, Barbara E what a great memory! We used to set the sprinkler up in the front was the one shaped like and x so it it whipped around and got us really wet. :)

    I was thinking of finding a slip and slide for our grandbaby, he's a little young yet, but it would be so much fun!

  29. And the winner is....catslady! Congrats! Check your inbox, I'm sending you an email.

  30. Oh, thank you for "Dylan." I am looking forward to reading him - I once again am reading for pleasure.


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