Back in my early years, Memorial Day and Labor Day were the bookends of the school year. Maybe not officially, but thatʼs how I remember it. From kindergarten to eighth grade, those ninety days of freedom from homework and school schedules were a cherished time. I like to think I made the most of it.
I remember neighborhood kids coming over for marathon baseball, kickball, and touch football games. Afterward, weʼd drink smelly water from the garden hose and then sit in the garage and trade baseball cards. We even tried our hand at golf, but that was quickly extinguished when I sent an errant drive through our living room window. Some things never change. I blamed my little brother.
I remember hauling off all my Dadʼs rakes, shovels, and garden tools into the woods to construct a BMX track. We even found an old pile of dirt that we used for a starting drop. Back then Iʼd swear it was forty feet high. Looking back, it was probably shorter than a basketball hoop. Either way, itʼd get you going fast enough to make the first jump. You then had to make a sharp left turn to avoid a tree limb so thick we couldnʼt break it off. I hit that limb so many times, my poor Dad lost a hand saw when I snuck it out and forgot it next to the fallen limb.
I remember when we made a stink bomb out of a chemistry set. Somehow, I was smart enough to talk my best friend into setting it off at his house. We got banned for the rest of the day. The same as when we made a volcano in his living room out of vinegar, baking soda, and Big Red. That tan couch his Mom had sure did look nice in pink.
I remember fishing and camping out at the neighborhood pond. We made a campfire behind the dam and ate our catch, plus a few frog legs we acquired. We all had to go home about four in the morning because our meal didnʼt digest too well.
I remember my dad calling me every morning at 8:00 am telling me to get up and get my football workout in…on my red corvette corded phone. Iʼd roll over and sleep until noon. Then Iʼd pump some iron to the Miami Vice theme song…on cassette tape…in a boom box…with a Hulk Hogan poster on the wall for motivation. In the evenings, my Dad, brother and I would go throw pass routes and run bleachers at the high school football stadium. I wore ankle weights and my Dad a sweat band, lace up coaches shorts, and tube socks.
I remember wiffle ball at the coast, mosquitos, fishing tournaments, boogie boards, crabbinʼ, and going flounder gigging. We never even saw a flounder, but once I speared a perch and another best friend almost got his dadʼs foot. I learned some new vocabulary when that happened. Similar to the words I learned when my Dad swung me and my mom into the beach on a tube from behind the boat.
This list could go on and on. I just hope that my kids grow up and enjoy their summers as much as I did.
On second thought…
Until next week, keep smiling.
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