A Day In The Life

Summer Memories
July 2, 2007, 2:14 pm
Filed under: Life in the South

On a warm summer night in July 1969 my mom made me stop catching lightning bugs and playing hide-n-seek with my cousins. I remember feeling so aggravated with Mom, but she said we all had to come inside and watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. We were at my granny’s house and watched history unfold on her small, black and white Zenith. I was ten, almost eleven years old.

My Granny and Grandpa W. always had a garden.  Granny W. surrounded their house with flowers.  I can’t remember a childhood summer without a garden in it.  First my grandparents, then my mom and now me.  It just isn’t summer without flowers and fresh vegetables from the garden.


We weren’t wealthy except in love, but my parents always found a way to take us on a summer vacation.  I will never forget those trips we made in a Chevy truck with a camper on the back.  We drove through downtown Washington D.C. in that rig, just like true Arkansas hillbillies.  We survived a tornado in Kansas another summer in the same truck and camper. 

My mom had seven siblings and my dad had four.  Both sets of my grandparents lived within a mile of our house.  Summer was a time when family came visitin’ from near and far.  The adults would sit in lawn chairs under tall oak trees shelling peas, snapping beans and shucking corn.  My cousins and I ran wild and free with only occasional admonishments to watch out for snakes.

I love to fish and I was happy to teach my niece the art of patience with a hook and pole.  I was so proud to be with her for her  first catch.


My July birthday parties almost always included homemade ice cream, watermelon, hamburger cookouts and swimming in the creek.  These things I remember far better than any material gift I ever received.

I spent a large part of the summer of 1977  with a college friend at her home near Plattsburgh, New York.   Her parents’ house was on Lake Champlain.  I fell in love with sailing and casual living on the lake shore.


In the summer of 1971 I was twelve, almost thirteen. My family was traveling to visit my dad’s sister in Big Spring, Texas. If you’ve ever driven across west Texas in an non-airconditioned ’64 Chevy sedan, then you have some inkling of what Hell must be like. I was miserable and kept up constant complaints of a stomach ache and cramps. Mom automatically thought I was trying to take that first step into womanhood so I got a quick lecture and how-to lesson in the bathroom of a roadside service station. After arriving in Big Spring, I started running a high fever and had to be taken to the hospital where it was discovered I had a severe kidney infection. We had to stay in Big Spring an extra week in order for me to recover. I still get some leverage with Mom out of that summers’ events!!!

Church camp was a must for every summer of my teenaged years.  Cousins and friends from church usually went, too.  Sometimes my pesky little brother and sister came with Mom to pick us all up when camp was finished.


Summer rain is the most memorable kind of rain for me. I think it is because the earth is usually so thirsty. No matter where I’ve lived I have always been able to close my eyes and hear the sound and smell the scent of summer rain on the hot Arkansas soil. When I’m far away, rain always takes me home.


10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Ah now see, the Neil Armstrong memory is a good one for me, as we were all pulled out of class to listen to it on the radio.

Comment by Willowtree

I love those photos. Gardens and homemade Ice cream are staples of summer. I was always so envious of kids that were lucky enough to have summer birthdays!
I’m a lil’ green over here.

How cool is that to have seen/heard the first steps on the moon?!

Comment by Kaytabug

I’m giggling over your impromptu “womanly-time” chat. Poor you!!!!

Good memories. How is your aunt faring?

Comment by Karmyn R

I enjoyed reading your summer memory post. In the Summer of 1969, my husband and I were at Purdue. Since Armstrong was a Purdue graduate, the time was especially memorable. Purdue set aside a day to celebrate with no school.

Comment by mjd

I was on a 4-H exchange trip in Iowa when Armstrong walked on the moon. I remember it very clearly. I had forgotten about that. Thanks, Songbird!

Comment by gawilli

So you have a July birthday too? When is your birthday?

I have driven (actually rode as passenger) across Texas in multiple vehicles with no air conditioning. All of our cars were always too old to have it or too broken down to have it working.

That little boy in the picture looks a lot like my brother at that age. In fact, I think I’ve got a picture of him somewhere that looks very similar.

Comment by Jenni in KS

I remember One small step and Neil Armstrong very well, too. Glad you mentioned that.

We some first fish pictures of daughters, too. So cute of you.

In Gram’s diary she wrote this note about driving across Texas:
“The sun has ris, and the sun has set”
.. “and we is in Texas … yet”

Comment by Pamela

What an awesome post.. very thoughful and love the pics!!

Comment by Tonya

Great post, I’m not sure what is worse reaching womanhood (and the monthly visits thereafter) or a kidney infection!

Comment by beccy

I forgot all about home made ice cream. Great pics and post!! 🙂

Comment by Debbie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: