Summer enjoyments timeless, free
In a recent copy of the magazine, "Real Simple" there was an article entitled "What's your best summer memory?" and I was so taken with the answers of the readers who replied to the question that I decided to do my own survey among friends.
Starting with the sesquicentennial committee for Eudora's 150th birthday, I asked everyone at a recent meeting, "What was your best childhood memory during summer vacation?"
The question was met with smiles among the group as pleasant memories came quickly to mind. Rex Burkhardt remembered riding the Ferris wheel at the CPA Picnic, while his sister Donna Oleson recalled playing "kick the can" in the gathering dusk of summer evenings. There also was a slight disagreement between the two about other shared memories, which is often the case among siblings. Sometimes I think we all grow up in different families.
LaDonna Russell remembered rolling tires down Eudora's Main Street, and Cindy Higgins recalled the freedom of walking barefoot. Cheryl Beatty thought catching fireflies was the best, especially since part of her childhood before moving to Kansas was spent in Michigan where there were no fireflies. Tom Tucker, who also grew up in another city, spoke of Sunday picnics and fishing with his family. Doug Mateo, who moved to Eudora recently to set up his own chiropractic practice on Eudora's Main Street, came here after attending school in Kansas City but grew up in the Bronx in New York City. This seemed like such an exotic background that I thought his memories might be unusual, but it seems that kids are pretty much the same everywhere. His best memories were of neighborhood picnics, playing baseball, swimming and canoeing. Bob Slapar had to think a bit about what he did in the summer, and since he is about my age, a bit of good-natured bantering regarding memory was tossed around. He finally said he believed the simple pleasure of riding his bike was enough to keep him happy.
Peter Bock, while visiting at a baseball game a few days ago, told me his years growing up in California were spent outside -- camping, hiking in the mountains and sleeping in tents. His family was devoted to nature, and he confessed that he missed the mountains.
Moving on to my coffee group, Sandi Nossaman remembered her first swimming pool was the horse tank on her family's farm in the small town of Isabel. She later graduated to the swimming pool in Medicine Lodge where no blacks were permitted and it took three ballots before it was integrated in 1968. Mary Burchill remembered being hot and dirty after working in her family's large vegetable garden. She cooled off by swimming in the pool called the "Jayhawk Plunge" in Lawrence. She also recalled that the blacks in Lawrence swam in the river at that time. By the time my family and I arrived in Eudora in 1971, the public pool in Lawrence was integrated, but I remember wondering why so few attended (we were often accompanied by only a few other families in this lovely large pool).
Brower Burchill remembered scoping the golf course for lost golf balls and selling them back to the club. Sherri Mohr recalled purchasing ice cream bars from the horse drawn ice cream wagon in Lawrence, and riding horses at Mott Stables, a horse farm located by Vinland. Bob Cobb when he was 7 or 8 years old lived two blocks away from "Dad's Oatmeal Cookie Factory" where you could purchase a sack of broken cookies for a dime and eat them at the local movie theater where for a 20-cent ticket you could spend the entire afternoon. Evenings at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City, Mo., were a special treat for some of the group, and one of the girls remembered spending hot summer afternoons playing paper dolls, which were purchased from the local Woolworth's store.
I also have three friends I call my "city girls" who grew up in Chicago, Kansas City and Kyto, Ecuador. Hope Freund remembers riding the buses in Chicago to the ice cream parlor and movies as an 11-year-old with her 6-year-old sister in tow. She didn't see a cow until she was 10 years old. Jo Ramirez spent her childhood in Kansas City where pleasant times were spent in Swope Park and on weekends walking five or six miles downtown to the movies. Bertha Araque grew up in the large city of Kyoto, Ecuador, where it was a special treat to escape to the country or to the beach.
What I found so interesting was that most of the memories had very little to do with spending money. Most were simple pleasures available to all, which reminded me of an old song from my childhood memories entitled, "The Best Things in Life are Free."