It was summertime 1973 and the house had a different rhythm – a teenaged rhythm. 3 teenaged sisters and a brother were home from boarding school and there was no rest for the curious. I woke up early to the sound of Malin and Laurie’s swim lesson in the backyard pool. Mom was making French Toast and the seductive aroma jolted me out of bed.
Down the hall, I heard James Taylor’s “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.” Jeff was awake and getting ready for another hot day in the fields with Mr. E.P. Dad was on the ranch in Texas. Running downstairs for breakfast in my favorite Speedo racerback swimsuit, I slid my fingers across the red velvet stripes on the wallpaper the whole way. “I will feast on a rolled up slice of French Toast with powdered sugar,” I planned, “then to the pool for a quick swim until I hear the motor of the the ice cream maker churning fresh peach ice cream.”
There was nothing better than drying my pruney, water-drenched self atop the air conditioning unit near the ice cream maker in the summer. My body pressed against the coils with hot air spewing – and leaving a checkerboard imprint on my legs.
Occasionally, the lure of wild honeysuckle draping across the backyard fence would lure me from my drying time atop the air conditioner and I would quickly hop off long enough to snap a blossom and gently pull the stem just enough to make the natural honey ooze. Then immediately back to my post beside the ice cream maker: nothing would deter me from my mission of pulling the paddle with freshly churned peach ice cream out of the magical drum surrounded by ice and salt.
“How DO you do this,” I asked Mom each time. She was certainly busy but managed to make each day perfect. I think summer was her favorite time, too.
That summer, I rode my bike after supper with Laurie, my 15-year-old-sister. She was my favorite playmate – she did my hair and makeup, taught me exercise moves, played The Beatles’ red album for me while I fell asleep at night, made homemade pretzels with me and told me where babies came from that summer!
Summer was a time of electric energy, days filled with warmth and nonstop activity until I collapsed, water-logged and brain spinning with images mysterious teenage music (there was an earlier summer my brother had a cool garage band), posters, phrases, friends, clothes, hair and skincare products and LOVE. At night, I would maneuver a way to climb in the back of the station wagon to “Circle Town,” listening to “Honky Tonk Women” on the local radio and sipping on a Cherry Coke from Big John’s.
When August came and my teenaged playmates packed up to return to school, I was so sad and “Alone Again, Naturally.” Then the letter writing began – daily trips to our hometown Post Office to check out Post Office Box 156 and look for teenaged news and treasures became my occupation. What a life I had as the youngest of 7 – each season’s memory dotted with loving memories of what “they” were up to and how much I had to look forward to.