Dear Isa and Mario,
Before parents and institutions made summer about either catching up or advancing skills, summer was once a glorious time of slowing down and enjoying life. Children were not only free to follow their imaginations wherever they could take them while spending time with family – they were expected to. There were no “summer nannies” that were temporarily in charge of a rigorous weekly schedule of commitments. Only grandparents and siblings with the means to help keep younger children happily occupied.
I keep hearing and reading about “Tips for Having a 70s Summer” as if there were a magical, secret formula – when it is really the simplest thing in the world to do!
Growing up, summer at my house was about 5 things, not in any particular order – and it required no training or money. Just the desire to float along carefree……
1. Family Since my 6 older brothers and sisters went to boarding school for High School, summer was the epitome of action at my house. Suddenly, our house was flooded with teenagers each summer, and I relished spending time with each one as much as they may have resented it (and some did!!!). After awhile, if I had been a very good girl, Mim, my Grandmother, would invite me to her house for an overnight stay!
I got to drink Orange Crush (one only, so I would not wet the bed) at Mim’s house and then raid the “secret drawer” (which, of course, she knew was not a secret) in my Dad’s old bedroom for sticks of Doublemint gum. Mim had a sweet laugh and everything about her seemed so ladylike to me – the smell of her skin, the touch of her perfectly manicured hands on mine – I was always on my best behavior on those special summer overnight
Your Uncle JD had a garage band. They played cool Rolling Stones songs like “Jumping Jack Flash” and the band members, Louie and Bobby, let me stand on a chair and pretend to be playing tambourine. No wonder I married your Dad,”Mike Tamburini”!!!
There were 2 teenaged albums I was especially curious about – the one with the 2 white guys and their wives – but one of them had an African American wife (Seals & Crofts).
The other album was in Uncle Jeff and Uncle JD’s room, and I was forbidden from ever playing it. Oh, yeah?
3. The Outdoors
It was not a punishment to play in the yard growing up – in fact, I actually had to be called inside for supper.
Always a huge fan of Grandma Rhetta, I tried to be right by her side when she was taking the freshly dried sheets off the laundry line. Here’s some great advice, too, kids: It is fun to put a clothespin on your nose and talk!
4. Food Of course, Mom was a great cook and produced “3 squares” for all of us plus our friends every single day. But on many occasions, our family would drive to the river and take the barge across to the great state of Tennessee for fried catfish and hushpuppies.
5. Reading I never had to be told to go to my room and read. I rode my bicycle to town several times a week and checked out great books on my own. My friend, Julie, and I would compete to see who could read the most. These were my 2 favorites:
When summer was coming to an end, the farmers would drive by my house with trailers full of freshly picked cotton on their way to the Killion-Rone-Wilson Cotton Gin – you know, the stuff your clothes are made of? Oh, and do you recognize your Grandpa’s last name somewhere in that lineup?
One time I got to ride in the back of one of those cloud-filled trailers with my friends Annie, Jimmy and Michael – I paid for it the next day with my sneezing, but it was one of the most memorable rides to town I ever experienced.
So, my darling children, I have tried to give you summers that are less about “achievement” and more about “experience,” but it is not so easy as it once was. I have enjoyed every minute of our summers together, it will always be a magical time for me as your Mom. Just thought you should know some of the reasons why our family isn’t as busy as other families – and happily so!!!!