What’s Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?
I remember when the big question during the final weeks of the school year was always the same, “So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?”
My friends were carted off on exotic camping vacations to Yellowstone, or spent weeks visiting relatives in Omaha. Hardly anyone I knew went to summer school; it seemed mostly for kids who had to make up classes after they were out for weeks with mono, or for anyone who had the misfortune to flunk chemistry.
Summer in Orange County, California was hot, smoggy, and wonderfully dull. My mom planned just enough activities to keep us out of trouble (so she thought), and the rest of our days were spent playing with friends, reading, and inventing stuff in the backyard. With four years between us, my sister may remembers those days differently, but I loved the gift of freedom and the challenge “Girls, go find something to do.”
B-O-R-E is a Four Letter Word
Summers were never boring. We spent days building elaborate Barbie houses and then whined because we ran out of time to play with them. On hot afternoons, we kneeled in the dirt along the shady side of the house and collected iron filings. What do you do with iron filings? I don’t know, but they’re cool.
As a pre-teen I babysat for neighbors, ironed hankies for pocket money, and was the driving force behind a variety of start-up businesses. We sold lemonade, lemons, and avocados. We printed out a newspaper using an office mimeograph master and a tray of Knox gelatin. We put on plays, talent shows, and musicals.
The 60’s were good years to keep teenagers busy. I have more memories of psychedelic sunsets at scout camp than I do of concerts and music. Our groovy skits provided campfire entertainment and the best camp crafts were candles and love-beads.
The activities changed with the years, from iron filings to scout camp to camp counselor, but one annual event remained as popular when I was 15 as when I was 5 — the public library summer reading program.
Every June the public library promoted summer reading with a themed program filled with contests and activities. It was the best part of summer for a nerdy girl who loved to read. The only problem was the 10 book limit on how many titles you could check out. Ten books is hardly enough when you are whipping through the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series.
I haven’t collected iron filings in a long time, but I still see summer as a time to try something new and to read my way through the heat. I mark the end of the school year with my own list of summertime goals, although goals is too business-like to suit the mood of summer. Dreams would be better. Summertime is dream-time. A time to master a new skill, discover a new talent, or read a new book.
This summer I’m working my way through a stack of new books, learning to make my step-mom’s Texas fried chicken, and working through Dr. Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof. Oh, and I’m going returning to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), or Genealogy Camp as I’ve heard it called.