I am excited for my grandkids today because it’s the last day of school. My strongest memories are of the last day of school and the summers that followed. The school year seemed to last for a year and the summer for about a week. On the last day of school, however, it seemed that we would be free for ever. The summer held so much promise.
I grew up in Crowley. As a kid we lived a block from the courthouse and the library. Summers were hot and air conditioning not common. The library was air-conditioned. In fact it was the coldest building in Crowley. Every summer they had something called the Summer Reading Club. There were contests for reading the most books. You got to put stickers on a big chart for every book you read. We would go to the library in the heat of the afternoon and would spend hours picking books and leave with a stack. We would go home and try to find a cool place to look through and or read the books.
We, of course, didn’t have a swimming pool. It was a great treat to go to the “public” pool to swim. I can still remember the smell of chlorine poured into the pool to try to counteract whatever the kids were leaving in the pool. We would ride bikes to the pool and were plenty hot when we go there so jumping in the cool water was great. The problem was it was just as hot riding home and there was nothing cool to greet us there, except maybe a trip to the library.
In Crowley there were good city parks with lots of trees, swings and slides. We would sometimes ride to the park. There was also a Frosto that served the coldest root beer in the world in huge funnel like containers. That was a great treat on the days we had a little money.
It didn’t cool off much at night. We had an attic fan. The trick was to sleep by a window that was open just the right amount. It had to be opened enough for the air to come through but not so much that the flow was diminished. It still seemed we woke up in sheets damp from our overnight sweats. We went outside early to try to get some fun in before it got too hot and it was time to go swimming or to the library.
We sometimes got to go on summer trips with my aunt. She sometimes took one or more of us on her summer trips. My favorite trips were to Mexico and once to Colorado. We didn’t have a car. Yes, I’m not making that up. We walked or rode our bikes everywhere. We didn’t have weeks at the beach or in the mountains. Trips only happened when someone else took us. Summer vacation sure has changed.
I’m excited for my grandkids, but I’m not sure why. There is plenty of air conditioning and lots of electronics to play with indoor. I don’t know if kids go to the library anymore or if there are any public pools left. Modern parents surely wouldn’t let their kids ride bikes alone to a public swimming pool or a park on their own. Maybe I’ll try to think up some summer adventures that might give them a taste of what summer vacation really used to be like. They weren’t expensive or ‘fabulous” but they sure were fun.