Endless Summer of My Youth

Years ago when I was a teenager, the movie “Endless Summer” impressed me . It was about searching for the perfect surfing wave, following summer around the globe, visiting beaches everywhere. Growing up, my endless summers were quite different, and I would not swap memories of them for any beach full of perfect waves.

My endless summers started with the last day of school. I attended a small elementary school consisting of grades 1 – 8 and a total of about 215 students. We all knew each other and the last day of school was full of songs like “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers with dirty looks.” I am surprised the teachers let us get away with it back then.

As we left school my mind was full of plans for camping, fishing , building tree houses, picking blackberries and plums and many other activities. It seemed we had endless days ahead to do all the things we wanted to do before school started again.

One of our first activities was a big camp out. We would gather camping equipment ranging from lawn chairs to mess kits with the same care British explorers planned trips to Africa. And we probably carried more stuff than they did! Fortunately, we usually did not go much over a couple of hundred yards from the house on these excursions, so return trips home for additional supplies were not bad.

We always had a great supper the first night of camping consisting of a full meal in a foil pouch. It had a big hamburger patty topped by sliced potatoes, carrots and onions and butter. This was placed on fire coals to slowly cook to that perfect state of burned black meat and still crunchy potatoes. Nothing ever tasted better!

If you have never slept on a lawn chair, you have missed one of the most miserable nights of your life. There is no way to get comfortable on one of those things. I have no idea why we kept trying. The ground, even when covered with rocks, was much more comfortable!

Our “pup” tents were so named because they were probably suitable for a few puppies, not kids. But we loved them, anyway. So what if they leaked, let bugs in, were hard to put up and take down and were heavy to tote. Maybe that is why we kept trying lawn chairs!

Picking blackberries was always anticipated with much more fun than the actual picking. We would watch the blackberry vines as they bloomed and the berries slowly started turning red. We knew exactly where the best vines grew, and loved dewberries because they were so much bigger and filled the containers faster.

Momma made a blackberry cobbler with the first picking of berries, and we ate as many as went into the container. One summer we got real industrious and decided to sell the berries we picked. Back then, 25 cents a quart was a good price and we sold several gallons that summer. I would not pick them for sale at 100 times that price now!

Fishing ranged from tying and fishing home-made “flies” in the local branch, catching small bream and other fish, to bicycle trips to local farm ponds. We did not have a boat back then but an old pair of tennis shoes and jeans allowed us to wade around the edge, casting for bass and bream. And wading kept us cool while in the water and on the ride home.

Another cooing activity was damming up the branch to make a swimming and fishing hole. We worked many hours filling croker sacks with sand and dragging cross ties to the dam site. Our dams often created a great pool of water that lasted until the next hard rain washed out the dam. If we had been made to work that hard around the house we would have been furious.

Summers end too quickly now. It seems school starts months sooner that it did back then, and I know it seems even worse to kids returning to classes. I hope everyone can enjoy the time left and make some memories for the future.