"Those Summer Days"
I ran out the door so fast I barely heard my mom tell me to be home for supper.
“I will,” I called back as I slammed out the front door.
My friends were sitting on my stoop with their beach bags packed and big smiles on their faces. We were all ready for a day at the beach.
School had ended the week before and summer vacation was in full swing and we weren’t going to waste one minute of it…not one!
The beach was packed with summer vacationers and kids with radios blaring and blankets and beach towels were placed so close to each other on the sand, there was barely room to walk between them.
We managed to find a spot where the five of us could place our wide beach towels down together and then we tossed off tops and shorts, and ran wildly into the oceans’ waves.
Later, we’d rub on baby oil to our pale, school day skin, to tan it quicker, but we’d usually burn it to a crisp. We didn’t care, tan was tan, even bright red was better than sickly pale. Then we’d spritz Sun In or Lemon go lightly in our hair, to give it that sun kissed summer look.
We were all of fourteen and thinking we were living the life of freedom and nothing was better than this.
We’d talk about the boys we were crushing on and how we’d wow them with our beach tanned looks when we got back home.
The boys we liked were not our boyfriends, not yet anyway.
They were the neighborhood boys and we’d watch them play punch ball on our street or stick ball by the corner factory wall. We knew them and they knew us but we didn’t hang around with them. We’d rate them from afar, as they were probably rating us.
We’d play our portable record player on my stoop (my house was the closest to the corner so we'd sit there for a better view) and we’d sing - so off key- to the records of the day, trying to attract the boys attention.
When we were bored with that, we’d play stoop ball, with a pennsy pinkie or a Spalding high bounce ball that we’d bounce off the stoop and try to hit off the stoop's edge so it would be a high fly. If you’d catch a high fly, it was ten points if the ball hit the flat part of the stoop and you caught it, it was only five points.
We’d also play Red light Green light 123, Giant steps, Simon Says and Mother May I…not sure anyone remembers these games anymore, but we had so much fun playing them, and playing them to catch a certain group of boys attention too, made them all the more fun.
We had several amusement parks located near us, close enough to travel to by bus or train and the days we spent at anyone of them, was always a day spent making great memories. The times we’d tag along with that group of boys…well those were fun and eventful…but that’s all I’ll say here.
Fourth of July wasn’t spent looking for a place to view fireworks because that place was right in front of our houses.
Fireworks were illegal in New York, and in Brooklyn where I grew up but somehow everyone’s father managed to have them for that great celebration of Independence Day.
On the fourth, we’d all anxiously await the sunset and in July that took a lot of waiting, it didn’t get completely dark until nine o’clock at night, but once it was dark, the roman candles flew.
Every house had an area blocked off in the street – and no cars were going to be driving down any street in our neighborhood that night. Everyone knew there’d be no safe way to navigate down a street with all the ash cans, cherry bombs and bottle rockets that would be flying, not to mention the rockets that lit up the night sky too.
It was hours of magic that lit up the sky and our faces. We ohhhed and ahhhed until the last roman candle fizzled out and the street was smoky and filled with the sent of the fireworks powder.
We’d sit there on our stoops just letting it settle around us.
It was like no other night in the year, a block party that went on block after block, colors bursting over the roof tops. I’ve never experienced anything close to those nights and regret, with the changing times, that my children never had the chance to have that neighborhood experience. But back then, it was the norm and our summer wasn’t over yet.
July 4th was only mid-way through and there was lots more freedom and fun to be had before the school bell rang again.