The Fourth of July is nipping at our heels and begs the question … What to do on summer vacation?
Growing up a street kid made what to do on our summer vacation easy. Raising kids through the Eighties, however, was not always as simple.
Playing on the streets …
In the dark ages of the Fifties, our summer vacations consisted of two things … Coney Island … or playing in the park and on the streets. I was the only girl in my family and the only Tom Boy on 39th Street.
I remember a day in summer when I was six. I saved it all day, my precious nickel. Saved it dreaming of a cherry popsickle … until I dropped it. Tripping on my own feet … I watched it disappear out of sight down the sewer grating.
Another day, alone and walking along the edge of the curb. Up and down … curb to sidewalk … up and down … sidewalk to curb … up and down … stop … spot a shinny quarter.
The boy three doors up the block came out to play stickball, but the big kids wouldn’t let him hit. So he brought his broom handle to me and we chewed his smashed half piece of Double-Bubble.
Breathless, put gum on the end of the broom handle.
It felt good. The heat of the concrete against my belly. The sound of his breathing in my ear. We both became very still … aim the sticky end of the broom handle … slam it … aim again… missed.
Never did get the darn thing. Still, it was fun for a while sharing my time with the boy three doors up the block. Fun thinking how great it would be to have a whole bright silver quarter all to myself.
Working on the streets …
What was I thinking when I decided to become a street vendor?
Yes, I was a street vendor … or as love to tell people … I worked the streets. For three brutal summers while my kids were in sleep away camp, I stood on the corner of 182nd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights and sold food stuff from a cart that was not quite as pretty as the one in the photograph.
And it was the job as street vendor that inspired me to get the kiddies out of the humid heat of a New York summer to the cool breezes of summer camp.
Summer camp … The savior of thousands of American mothers.
I have been reminded on numerous occasions of my heartless decision to pack them off, lock, stock and foot locker for eight weeks to a sleep-away camp resting in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania.
Beautiful landscape, horseback riding and cute counselors in short, shorts. And I do mean short. Gals that were both rugged and sexy, who could wrangle a horse and a rowdy camper, fling their latest flame into the underbrush and make it back, undetected, by dawn’s early light.
My daughter spent all her summers dodging horses and chores, doing crafts and avoiding swimming … and every summer for eight years … spent several over-nights with the nurse … broken bones, ear aches, colds … or just plain being a pain.
My son was “the boy from New York City.” They taught him barrel racing at high noon. He taught them dark secrets at midnight.
Yes, that wonderful American tradition of living in the great outdoors, horse flies and mucking stables, rodeo, camp fire round-up and free sex education for my son.
Hot times …
Then there were those … Hot times. Summer in the city for Mama.
Summers in the city whilst the kiddies frolic in the country. Mama left to her own devices, and eight long weeks to deal with them … one device at a time.
These days all my seasons are warm to the touch and each of them mine to squandor. And each Fourth of July, I sit back and reflect on summer vacations … mine and theirs.
Tell me if you will …
what did you do on your summer vacation?