…a long time ago!
So…when did summer get so complicated? I don’t really remember summer break before “real” grade school, but for all the years after first grade till into jr high, my summers were the same and were great! We lived across the street from my elementary school (Lincoln School in Evanston) and most everyone that lived nearby, including the kids that went to St. Mary’s, hung out at the playground of the school. The Park District (apparently) hired young adults (adults to us) to run the program for those of us who stayed home during the summer. (I did that in Wilmette my summer after college!!) Almost no one I went to school with went to overnight camp for the whole summer (one or two went for a couple of weeks?) so it was the same gang every year. We would play kickball and play in the playground and do art projects before and after our lunch breaks. We played four-square and hopscotch and actually know that we did an occasional field trip (but I don’t remember where we went).
One summer, I went to Evanston’s day camp, but the playground was every bit as good and so many of my friends were there, too. Hanging out in the forest preserves for that camp was not my fave thing. For the 4th of July, all of us in the playground group worked on a float that would represent our “park” and over the summer that Alaska and Hawaii became states, all the floats to that significant event…and I was on a float dressed as a penguin! Who cared that penguins were at the South Pole, not Alaska?
Most of my friends went on vacations with their families to visit relatives or tour cities like Washington, DC, but only for a week or 2 and then, as we got older, summer became Lee Street Beach. Anyone who grew up in SE Evanston remembers walking north or south to Lee St. and then walking east to the beach. We got our beach tokens as soon as we could in June and just “hung out”.
The playground and beach became our “way of life” till we got those real summer jobs, went to summer school or took major trips that dragged us from the camaraderie of our parks and friends.
Over the past Many years now, hanging out is apparently not considered the way to spend summer vacation. I feel sad about it. It was a great time to meet friends of friends that we didn’t know before, and we simply had to be more independent than we were fall though spring. OMG! We became friends with those from other schools and got to know those in the ‘hood who were a bit older or younger. It was a wonderful equalizer.
No cell phones then either. Facebook has flashed those memories over the past few years to remind us how fun it was, and this topic tonight has re-reintroduced these memories again — and it’s not July 4th yet!! Summer is still ahead!
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