The challenge came in at 8 p.m.: Blogapalooz-Hour, the monthly Chicago Now effort to write and post something in one hour on a set subject. Tonight’s topic: What is your favorite summer memory from your school years?
Many of my favorite memories would involve more than an hour of combing thorough diaries (back to sixth grade) and old letters. So even the “media library,” the clip art I attach to these posts, has taken some scrutiny in the past few minutes. Time’s precious, so I picked the pineapple to recall our family’s trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, in the summer I was 10 (in 19-forget-it).
We went in August. It turned out to be the very definition of hot weather.
I will never forget going to Pearl Harbor, looking around the Arizona Memorial — and out its windows, into the oily water. I will never forget it, and I should not. The wall of names wasn’t so tall merely because I was so short.
(OK, that may not be your definition of a favorite memory — but it’s staying where it is because it’s among the more important places I’ve ever seen. Favorite doesn’t necessarily mean fun.)
I enjoyed seeing the Royal Hawaiian hotel — the first pink building I’d ever seen in those days before the Thompson Center and other “Post-Modern” buildings. On the other hand, I see the former Edgewater Beach hotel often now in Chicago — another pink hotel. Maybe that’s part of what keeps the Royal Hawaiian vivid.
I remember going to the Polynesian Cultural Center on a particularly hot day. I think that was where we saw some information on Samoa, the final home of Robert Louis Stevenson, who already led my list of beloved writers. (This was so long ago that I hadn’t tried any Conan Doyle.)
I remember reading a model of his tombstone, with the poem that says “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.” That has a different resonance when you’re on an island in the sea yourself. But it took a different trip to find out that Louis had lived in Honolulu, too! Maybe I just wasn’t so good at “field trips” at that age. (And really, I was just getting to know Louis — I’d read only “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by then.)
The day at the Polynesian Cultural Center was painfully hot, but I still use it to get me through hot days — not just thinking of Louis, but thinking of how I managed to get through it. Fruit punch, a favorite at that age, turned out to be a life-saver.
No wonder that when I face heat waves now, I like blends of juices and different things to drink more than I like solid food.
That’s what makes this the winner as I try to pick a favorite memory — it’s not just back in 19-f0rget-it, it’s useful in 2018.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.
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