Great Childhood Summer Memories

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We had many sheds and a big barn to explore, which also made great places for hide-and-go-seek games.

When I was growing up, life was pretty simple. Playtime was wherever our imaginations took us, and I have summer memories of playing outside for hours with my younger sister.

A few blankets attached to the clothesline made a house with rooms for us and our dolls. We had many sheds and a big barn to explore, which also made great places for hide-and-go-seek games. We rode our bikes, took our cats for buggy rides, and played marbles in the dirt. Most of the summer we went barefoot and never thought about shoes until Sunday mornings or when the time came to go back to school. We fed a couple of orphan lambs milk from a rubber nipple attached to a 7-Up bottle, and we had an old sheep named Susie who ate hard candy out of our hands. We had a faithful collie, Tony, who followed us everywhere and made us feel safe. We had lots of different cats come and go, but Tony was our only dog while we were growing up.

One Sunday night a month, our parents and neighbors would get together to play cards. It was pretty much the same at each house: kids outside, parents inside. At our house, Mom would set up card tables and have little dishes for snacks at each table. We were strictly warned not to bother the grown-ups or their snacks. There was always a big bowl of the same snacks for the kids, but it never lasted very long. Those Sunday night card parties were enjoyed by the kids just as much as by the adults.

Several times during the summer, the neighbors would meet down by the creek, where we all enjoyed a good swim.

Mealtime for our family was when Dad got in from the fields. We all sat down together, and we ate whatever Mom had fixed. After supper, we kids would do the dishes while Mom and Dad watched the news. Dad would invariably fall asleep in his chair until it was time for bed. The next morning, he would be up and out the door long before the rest of started to stir.

We had a big vegetable garden to weed, and we would pick vegetables for Mom to can or freeze. Summers were filled with carefree fun, but we still had our chores to do throughout the day.

Neighbors worked together baling hay, butchering cows and hogs, and when necessary, helping to get the crops in. I know these jobs were hard for the adults, with long hours and hot days. The kids, however, had a great time with plenty of good food our mothers made, and helping to deliver lots of lemonade and water to the workers. Working and playing together have made for some great childhood summer memories.

Lincoln, Illinois

Read more reader-submitted summer memories in Memories of Summer Fun.