Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Vacation Daze

On a hot and humid day like today, if we were really on vacation (I know I have the summer off), we'd be next to a lake or pool, paddling our kayaks in Canadarago Lake, or perhaps near the ocean, and be better with the heat. When you travel for a summer get-away, you want perfect weather. 90+ degrees and humid might be a bit over the top, but more acceptable when you travel for fun.

I did make it outdoors today to run some quick errands, but once back home I stayed in and found enough things around the house to keep myself busy. It was too hot to be outside. These days.

Back in the mid to late 1950's, our vacations were pretty much centered around just going outside. We didn't take trips fact, until I was 18 I hadn't gone any further than about 40 miles from home, and those trips were pretty much to attend funerals in Schenectady.

Our mother worked full time, father was long gone (he left when I and my brother were 3 and 2), and our grandparents and assorted local relatives had charge of us during the midweek days. So, it was mostly "go outside and play."

We heard stories of people who "took trips," but couldn't imagine what that might feel or look like, and had one aunt who went to Cape Cod each year with her husband, for a week or two. They didn't have any kids, but chose one niece or nephew each year to go with them. My brother and I didn't get picked for any of those trips...the aunt and uncle probably didn't want to be seen with the products of divorce. My son Matt came home from school one day, about a dozen years ago and said, "I think I'm the only one in my class who lives with a mother and father who are still together." "Funny," I said, "I was the only kid in my class, at your age, who didn't live with their mother and father!" Maybe Matt could have gone to Cape Cod!

I remember two summer "vacations" as a child that were memorable. One day my mother announced that we were going to do something special and had us put on our swimsuits. She was wearing hers and walked us up the alley next to our apartment to our grandparent's house (they lived on the road behind us) and spread a blanket on the small piece of grass in front of their house that they called their front yard. We each put on our sunglasses and we sat in the yard, in the sun, for a very long time. All of us got to smear ourselves with lots of tanning lotion. Not the protective stuff we covet today, but the gooey, oil based stuff that ensured a tan after the burn.

The more memorable part of this day was that I had a loose tooth that wouldn't come out. My grandmother came out with a long piece of string, tied it on that tooth and told me to run around the side of the house. I wasn't ten feet away from her when she pulled back, throwing me on the ground and nearly dragged me back that short distance, as the tooth clung to my jaw. She laughed as she walked away, saying that the trick usually worked, leaving the string hanging from my mouth. That tooth didn't come out for days and I hurt all over.

Another great "summer trip" for us was a 15 minute car ride (we had a two tone yellow and white Ford) to Power Dam. A small man-made pond on the hill between Ilion and Utica, it had sand and lots of places for blankets so you could lay in the sun for a very long time. Repeat lots of tanning lotion here.

I didn't swim at that time, at about age 6 or 7. A cousin who went along decided it was time for me to learn to swim. I protested. She picked me up, walked out into the water, and tossed me into the drink. I sunk. My mother yelled at her, as she got off her blanket and walked into the water to pull me out. My mother yelled at me for coughing and choking and spitting up water. I told her I almost drowned. She told me to learn to swim.

I think she was upset because she got wet and had to dry off before she could re-apply tanning lotion, and we had cut into her attempt to sit on her blanket for a very long time.

I learned to swim, but can't say it's my favorite thing to do. I don't like sitting on blankets anywhere for very long times. However, when I'm near water or sitting on a beach I don't notice the heat and humidity...maybe it's because I stay really, really still wherever I am so that no one notices me...I'd like to keep my remaining teeth and stay above the water line!

1 comment:

  1. Pulled you around the house by your loose tooth?? Talk about tough love...