Skip to comments.The Lost Sounds of Summer
Posted on 07/24/2014 7:52:50 PM PDT by Kaslin
I long for the sounds of summer I knew as a kid.
In the '60s and '70s, you see, most of our neighbors kept their windows open day and night, allowing the outside sounds to come in and the inside sounds to go out.
I woke every morning to the birds chirping outside my window screen, a dewy chill in the air. I'd smell my father's pipe, which he smoked while he read the paper downstairs. I'd go down to greet him. Sometimes he'd make scrambled eggs and toast covered with butter, and we'd eat while the birds kept on singing.
The evening sounds were equally powerful: a dog barking; a motorcycle downshifting on some faraway hill; people out on their porches listening to the Pirates play on the radio; a baby crying; a couple talking; children laughing; a window fan humming.
Sounds carry far in the summer air. One family on the hill - they had three adult kids still living at home - entertained the whole neighborhood with their cussing and bickering:
"You're an idiot!" one would shout.
"No, you're an idiot!" said another.
"Shut up the both of youse!" the old man would yell. He told our next-door neighbor once he couldn't understand why his kids were so rude to each other, the lousy idiots.
The sounds I miss the most, though, were the shouts and chants and bells that families relied on to call their kids home for supper.
In those days, kids didn't participate in one adult-run activity after another. We didn't sit inside air-conditioned homes playing video games. No, we were out in the hills roaming and exploring and creating all day long.
We collected scrap wood and built shacks. We damned up the creek and caught minnows and crayfish. One summer, we built a motorized go-cart with some scrap items from a junked riding mower and a couple of two-by-fours. It was one of the great engineering feats in my neighborhood's history.
Occasionally, we'd fib to our mothers and ride our bikes 20 miles farther than we said we would. Or we'd pluck some baby pears off a tree by Horning road and whip them at cars. Every now and then, a car would screech to a stop, and we'd sprint through a creek aqueduct that ran 200 feet beneath the neighborhood.
There was only one major rule a kid had to abide by: you'd better be home in time for supper.
Every kid had a unique sound to call him home. My father went with a deep, booming, "Tom, dinner! Tom, dinner!" I could hear him a mile away or more.
When moms did the calling, they always used full names. They always sang, too, as my Aunt Jane did: "Miiiiiikkkeeelllll, Keeeeevvvviiiiiinnnnn, suuuuuppppppeeerrrr!"
The Givens boys, up on the hill across the railroad tracks, were called in by a large bell. The clanging sounded off at 6 every night, giving us the sense that a river boat was making its way up the Mississippi or a chow wagon was calling in the cow hands for some grub.
One family used a riot horn. The piercing "hrmmpppphhhhhh!" could be heard for miles. There was no way that kid, attempting to explain why he was late for supper, could claim he didn't hear it.
These mystical summer sounds have been gone a long time now. How wonderful it would be to bring them back.
At least one month every summer, why don't we cease every structured activity for our children, cancel every tournament, and end every adult-run event.
Let's turn off the television and computer. Let's shut down the air conditioner and un-shutter the windows and doors.
Let's allow our kids to go out into the hills to roam and play and discover all day long. That will require us to call them home at dinner.
And our shouts and chants and bells will breathe some much needed music into the sweet summer air.
Sounds like my childhood. My mom had a cow bell to call us home. Very loud.
I used to run all over by myself.
No way I would allow my kids to do that...too many perverts, too few hangings on the courthouse lawn.
They'll be raped by some nutcake and dismembered, or shot in a driveby by illegal alien gang members, or be stuck by disgarded Aids infected needles while roaming around....Better keep um in.
sounds like my sons’ summer day—just today... Jimmy came to see Caleb... they went around the neighborhood to see if anyone needed any yard work done... they are raising money to build a half-pipe... then we went to the beach... they bought lemonade and ice cream cones... we came hone, they skateboarded, went to the 7-11, we walked over to Ming’s Chinese, ate, came home, and the boys went back outside... btw, we walked 7 miles total, to and from the beach... Caleb is sun-kissed, and his hair has blond streaks in it like it does every summer due to swimming and sun...
And even stranger: most homes had guns in them, always unlocked, and nobody took them to school and shot anyone.
It’s almost like Dads, stay at home Moms, and discipline made a difference. Who’d of thunk it.
no, we can’t. BO wouldn’t approve. Nor would the C of Commerce, nor the neighbors, nor the parents who say, where did all these kids come from? don’t they know there’s birth control for that?
The Pornography princes would make something out of it, and one of 100 would turn up missing.
America has changed, fundamentally and for the far worse. Wholesomeness, goodness, decency, the simple things, its all disappearing. When did America catch the sickness it has.
Nice thoughts of a forgotten time; however, they don’t put away the perverts or the criminals anymore, and the cops are too busy shooting the family dog to keep an eye on things.
In fairness to the cops, however, the ACLU doesn’t let ‘em chase Bad Guys anymore, so...
Plus, in my day, ALL the Dads were ex-GIs and knew how to “take care of business.”
Those days will never come again.
Guns used to be kept in glass cases in the living room in many homes, or hanging on racks in the hall, or in the individual kid’s rooms.
I post this every summer and look forward to it.
The Summers of our Youth
Will we ever again experience the same delight that we did in our childhood?
Each year, I look forward to the advent of summer. And each year, about the middle of August, I wonder where it went.(”Summer’s almost over.” that wistful refrain that echoes through the land.
There’s so much here, and so little time to savor it: a day at the beach with the kids, a walk in the woods, a neighborhood barbeque, an hour in the garden snatched from the merciless jaws of career and family obligations, those great annihilators of leisure time.
Will we ever again experience summer as we knew it in our childhood?
Remember the inexpressible joy when the school bell rang for the last time in June and the entire summer stretched before you like a limitless horizon? I used to race my bike down the hill from school, the wind in my hair symbolic of a new found freedom. Within the confines of childhood we were indeed liberated. Ten whole weeks-an eternity from a child’s perspective-without cramped little desks, homework or nagging teachers awaited us.
Summer was so sweet then, before the advent of Nintendo or MTV: backyard games (whatever could be essayed with bats, balls, sticks, hoops - any object to stimulate the imagination) from dawn to dusk, with brief hiatuses for hearty meals, then a warm bath to remove the accumulated grime, and in to bed in clean pajamas; catching fireflies on languorous evenings; running through the sprinkler, laughing as you slipped on wet grass; going to the amusement park by the lake; getting sick on cotton candy and caramel apples mixed by the motion of the ferris wheel and roller coaster; trapping tadpoles in the creek, bringing them home in empty peanut butter jars; pretending you hated girls while secretly longing for the companionship of the mysterious creatures on those rare occasions that the twain did meet.
The remembrance of summer tastes is enough to overwhelm the senses: cream splashed over freshly picked blackberries; homegrown corn on the cob, lightly salted, smothered with butter; marshmallows roasted on a stick, crisp, brown and bubbly on top; an ice cold fudgesicle on a scorching afternoon.
Will we ever again know these rich, redolent odors of summer times past: the soft sweetness of new mown grass; the pungency of a campfire; the bouquet freshness of the air after a summer shower; that seashore fragrance composed of equal parts sand, salt air and suntan lotion; the heady aroma of clover in June.
Will we ever again know the sounds of summer: crickets prophesying another day of soaring temperatures; the rolling reverberation of skates on blacktop; the crack of a Louisville Slugger making contact; the lazy drone of a lawn mower?
Now summer is a blur; long awaited, enjoyed only peripherally, over all too soon. Summer is no longer the hour of deliverance - an exuberant respite from the tedious march from infancy to maturity marked by the milestones of studies and grades. It is merely another time of year.
Do the old enjoy summer like the young? They have the time, but not the capacity to run, leap and rejoice in the riotous activity summer seems to demand.
If adults could play, could they recapture the bliss of childhood summers? Can only the fresh, innocent eyes of youth grasp the season’s natural charm? Can mind preoccupied with the business of grownups- earning a living, raising a family, household finances- immerse themselves in the season’s pleasures, as children do? Perhaps pleasant memories are all we have a right to expect. Religions have different conceptions of the hereafter - fluffy white clouds, pearly gates, choir music. I would prefer to think of heaven as an endless summer, with a body to enjoy and a mind to appreciate the golden season.
lol. That reminds me of the start of a Korean TV show where they chased the fog truck
Mine too. We lived on a lake and my dad rigged a ships bell for our mom to call us home.
So unless I went for a walk in the park I didn't get to enjoy the outdoors.
Last year I experimented with creating a garden in 5 gallon buckets that I placed on wooden carts that can be wheeled in and out of the warehouse that is in the same building as our apartment. (Our building is surrounded on all sides by concrete and asphalt...)
This year I expanded the project and now I spend much time out in front of our building sitting on the sidewalks in camping chairs while I keep watch on my Emergency Zombiepocalypse Mobile Garden. Now it has become sort of a focal point for friends and family to gather and enjoy the outdoors and discuss the day's events.
I enjoy all the sounds I missed birds and people a few blocks over mowing their lawns and a cool breeze in the shade on a hot day.
And, it has infected our whole family with the "let's-move-to=the-country" bug! Which suits me just fine. I am done with living in town.
Sounds of Kick the Can with the other neighborhood kids in the lingering twilight....
The DDT “smoke” trucks were one the things the kids eagerly awaited, we loved them.
I dunno. Sounds like you describe where I live now. Just love it here.
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