Sweet Summer Time

greeOh the last day of school …what a wondrous sound…say it over and over and over. About the end of the first week of sleeping until we wanted to crawl out, time began to drag.  It wasn’t as though there were a host of activities planned for the neighborhood kids in Greenwood Center.

Rex and I loved baseball and would play in the front yard. First base was a piece of cardboard, second base was the rock by the long driveway and third base was a piece of wood or whatever placed near a little flower bed. We had no rules ..if we did, they must have changed every day.  Occasionally, we had a little dust-up. I remember one day he would not allot me the number of times I should have been up to bat. That is MY story. The end of the game resulted in my taking the bat, stomping behind the house, placing it on the sawhorse and cutting it in two with Dad’s bucksaw. 

We united in cheering for the Red Sox. The Philco radio stood in the kitchen corner, its wires running out the window and grounded to the side of the house. We had to be careful not to run down the battery as Dad liked two things: boxing matches and an occasional newscast. We sat on the front steps and cheered on Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr.

Since our parents worked at the mill, as most parents did, we had the day to ourselves. I was to watch Curt and make sure he had something to eat at noon and make sure his face was clean when Ma came home at night.

There wasn’t much to look forward to in the summer for holidays. We liked the Fourth of July and our older brother, Tink, ordered fireworks from some place in Ohio and we waited for them to arrive at the railroad station in Lockes Mills. Curt and I were allowed sparklers; Tink set off rockets and roman candles on the shore of the pond much to my Grandmother Martin’s delight. 

If I close my eyes, I can see my mother rowing my Uncle Louie’s meticulously clean green boat across Twitchell Pond and feel the bumps if the pond had a few waves on that day. Our house grew smaller and smaller as we neared Nick’s point for our annual picnic. How I loved looking up at Rowe’s Ledge searching for the hawks who shrieked and circled. They were quiet and I visualized them looking down at us with curious eyes from their humongous nests.

Watermelon and Kool-aid were the two main treats on our Fourth of July picnic. Sandwiches made up the rest and Ma rowed us back across the pond, bellies full and exceedingly happy. She warned us not to dirty up the boat, though I am sure Uncle Louie would have grinned and just cleaned it again.

One thing we could depend on was my Grandfather Martin swinging his Black jack gum covered cane to demonstrate it was time to pick the bugs off his potato plants. Carrying pint glass jars, we walked the rows and filled the jars to be rewarded by whatever change he had in his pocket upon the completion of the “de-bugging.” AND whats more…there was still the hay to get in the barn. If one didn’t mind being covered with hay chaff clinging to a sweaty body, it was a good way to earn 50 cents on a summer afternoon. Treading hay in the back of a pickup truck is hard, hot work but to have the coins jingle in the pocket after it was done and the pond just waiting for your swim made it ok.

One year I went to Vacation Bible School.  That was a treat as I stayed a whole week with Winnie Hanscom on Rowe Hill and each morning walked to the very top of the mountain. Rev. Lord put together the whole program and it was a fun time of learning and games.  Ma said Curt was too young and Winnie had her hands full with my staying there, to say nothing of having another one.

Rex was busy catching frogs and selling them to fishermen who stayed at Birch Villa Inn in Bryant Pond. He sold them for three cents each and kept them in a cage in the cool water of the brook.

We looked forward to Oz Palmer coming from his farm on Rowe Hill with his great team of horses and his huge hay wagon. How I wanted to ride on the side of the wagon but we were taught to stay out of the way and just watch. It was one of those times when my brother, Tink, was standing in Uncle Louie’s boat, tethered to the shore, but he fell out of it into the water. I barely remember screaming and Ma running from the house, down the long driveway and diving into the pond to drag him out and take him home. We talked about Ma saving Tink from drowning for years, but I have no idea how close he was to his demise. I just know he got a severe tongue lashing, only because Ma was so scared.

We had the Sunday rides in the ’38 Chevvy if Dad was in the mood.  There were years when Dad lined honeybees, timing them and in the fall when it was really cold, found their honey. I think that is against the law  now. It could have been then, for all I know. I just remember Dad putting my hand in his box of honeybees and letting them crawl all over my hand. He told me if I didn’t crush them, I wouldn’t get stung. Oh, the faith a child has in a parent. In retrospect, I have no idea whether he knew what he was talking about or not.

The summers were hot; our feet were bare; treats few and far between, but I would give anything to spend a few days looking out on Twitchell Pond . ….and hearing the hawks shriek on Rowe’s Ledge again.


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