COMMENTARY

Memories of childhood summer vacation

July 5, 2013 

At least that’s what we used to call it. Reminds me, I used to love summer. I don’t know if it is because I am older now or what but I am not big on summer anymore. Maybe it’s the heat. I’m happy now to survive the summer on my childhood memories and wait for September and the heat to ease a little.

My family lived on Austin Lake in Michigan until I was 11. I have a lot of good summer memories from those days in the early 1970s. Those were the days when kids could run free and be safe. Well, we were safe as compared to today that is. We rode bikes without helmets. We had lawn darts with metal points. We went swimming without life jackets. We had dirt clod wars and if we were in the lake we would have mud wars. We even shot BB guns. And we survived.

We ran through the woods and built forts or destroyed forts of unsuspecting "rival" neighborhoods. We dug foxholes in the cornfield across the street so we could play army. The foxholes were so good the farmer quit planting and plowing. His tractor kept getting stuck. We had a lot of fun in those days. One day someone threw a firecracker and started the field on fire. We let it burn so could have a place to play baseball.

My best friends and I had harmless fun, by our standards, that is. We went tromping through the dump, yes the dump, and found a bottle of fake blood. Three adolescent boys and fake blood, hmmm? I wonder what kind of trouble we could get into. One of us had an idea, a delightfully evil idea. We went out to Highland Road. There was one house at each end of the road, the field on one side and trees on the other. The perfect place for a summer caper and a get away.

We decided to pretend one of us was being beaten up by the other two. Kelly was the lucky one. We put the fake blood on his face, broke some glass and sprinkled blood around. When a car turned onto Highland, we went into action. KC and I (Did I mention KC and Kelly are twin brothers?) pretended to be hitting Kelly and when the cars got closer we ran into the woods leaving Kelly alone. We must have been great actors because three cars stopped. KC and I watched as a man jumped out of his car and asked, "What happened?" Kelly gave half an answer and ran off into the woods with us. Kelly said the man was mad and jumped in his car and drove off. Our evil plan worked perfectly. Should I not be telling you this? I wonder what the statute of limitations is on childhood summer fun?

One more story: They say confession is good for the soul. So, here it goes.

Mom and dad, I ran down the hill naked. It was one of those hot summer days on the lake. I was over at KC and Kelly’s house and we were sitting on their swing. One of them suggested we run down the hill naked and jump off their dock into the water. I was not one for crazy ideas but hey, they were my best friends. We took off down the hill in all of our glory and jumped in the lake. On our way back up the hill we noticed their mom looking out the door. She yelled something like, what are you boys doing? Why is it 10-year-old boys don’t think about getting caught? Funny thing is, I don’t remember if we even got in trouble. Even parents back then understood boys and summer fun.

We had a lot of fun in those days. I am glad we didn’t have video games, computers, Netflix and cable television back then. If we did, I probably couldn’t have written this article. Take a few minutes and remember your summers as a kid, it will make the heat a little more bearable.

Denny Craft is a freelance writer/humorist and has just completed the book, “Cats Lay Eggs.”

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