It’s Easter weekend and I’m actually writing my response to this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun on Saturday instead of Sunday morning.
Randy Seaver has given an “all about us” challenge this time around:
1) Let’s talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.
2) Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12). Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?
I was born in and grew up in Passaic, New Jersey. Summer vacations were always lots of fun because there were lots of kids who lived on my street. However, my parents also had fixed plans for mid-summer, which involved a long car trip.
First, for the kids’ stuff! Unless we were sick, kids didn’t sit in the house and watch TV or play games all day. We were outside from morning until dark, except for meals.
My mom had play dates set up with other moms on the street when we were very young. Sometimes, we went to Nash Park in Clifton to swing on the swings, ride the merry-go-round or play tag.
My parents bought a small square wading pool and a slide so when it was hot, my friends and I could splash around and stay cool. As we got a bit older, I remember many of us had stilts and had lots of fun walking around the block on them. We got pretty good, too. It was rare that we lost our balance and had to hop off.
Bikes were another popular toy and many hours were spent riding several blocks in each direction from our own street. I remember how proud I was when I learned to bump up the curb so I didn’t have to stop, get off my bike, push the bike up from the street back onto the sidewalk and get back on.
Jump rope and hopscotch were always fun. All we needed was a rope or chalk to mark the sidewalk for hopscotch. Even the boys would sometimes want to play the “girls” games and they were kind of funny to watch because they weren’t nearly as well coordinated as the girls. Of course, if girls joined in a marbles game, the boys always won. Practice makes perfect as my mom always used to say.
Tag and hide-and-go seek were also popular games.
On a rainy day, two or three of us girls might play with dolls or Colorforms, but those were rare times.
Summertime brought warm weather and, for our street, that meant the afternoon visit from the Good Humor Man. usually, we had to spend out allowance on ice cream, but, every once in a while, our parents would give in and treat us.
Another yearly summer activity for me was one week at the YWCA day camp. We got to swim every day, make crafts and play games and took a couple of trips to Garrett Mountain on the bus.
As June and July became August, my parents would load my brother, me and all the luggage into the car and we started the long drive from New Jersey to Little Sebago Lake in Maine.
My grandparents owned a cottage on the lake and each summer, we spent two weeks with them. Summertime activities on the lake were very different than playing outside in Passaic.
The camp was in the woods. The bathroom was outside, there was no hot or potable water to drink and the only heat was from the fireplace. Believe me, there were enough cold days to accompany the warm summer weather!
Cottage from the lake view
I swam every day. Grandfather took us out on boat rides (and taught me how to waterski) over to the beach across the lake and Aunt Barbara kept me entertained, too. Blueberry picking was a fun activity and Grandmother used them to make blueberry pie.
There weren’t many children around, as the camps were far apart and the children on each side of us weren’t always there since other relatives (not their parents) owned those camps.
Our summer routine changed slightly when I was 7 years old because my aunt and uncle bought a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee, a much bigger lake than Little Sebago. From that time on, we still spent time with my grandparents, but we added a week to our vacation and spent one week with my aunt, uncle and cousins. There were several other families nearby with children, so I made new friends in New Hampshire.
Waterskiing on Winnipesaukee with friends
Growing up, I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I neared my teen years. I enjoyed lots of time playing with friends at home, but also had the opportunity to vacation with my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousins while enjoying two lake experiences.
I’m very grateful for those special vacation times provided by my family.
Thanks, Randy, for the chance to walk down memory land this week.