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My childhood summers are some first (and best!) memories I have from growing up in southern rural Illinois. Our family lived on a small farm but it was when I would stay with my grandparents that I would have the majority of my most memorable adventures. The sidewalk chalk, salt, and SnoCones seem like such minor things but to me – they are my childhood summers!
It was the Summer of 1989, I enjoyed a Summer with my 1-year-old brother, Silas. The picture above is one of us on a ride at the local fair. The vintage car rides, carousel, cotton candy, and saltwater taffy were a tradition that we grew to enjoy each year.
My grandparents lived in town so we were able to use their concrete patio to draw to our hearts content as well as the road beside their home with sidewalk chalk. My grandpa would sit at the picnic table while we covered his patio with colorful hearts, flowers, rainbows, houses, and scroll after scroll of our names when we were learning cursive. My grandparents had a small, block building that they would let us draw on, too.
If it didn’t rain, my grandpa would wash our artwork off at dusk so we could start anew the following day. Grandpa would take photos with his favorite 24 mm camera to capture our work before washing everything down with the garden hose. I wish that we would have been able to get our hands on some of the photos!
The chalk not only served as an artistic outlet but also as a way we could relieve some of our physical energy. Hopscotch was a fun game that kept us hopping! My brother, cousins, and I would create different versions of the game to add variety and competition.
My grandparent’s screen back door and the sidewalk between their house and block shed was always covered in slugs at nightfall during the Summer. They were quite a nuisance to the garden and extremely yucky when we would be out playing after dark. My grandma would keep the big cans of salt and give each of the grandkids a small jar to take outside. We enjoyed the thrill of watch them shrink up. Now that I’m older and know that it’s a pretty cruel punishment, I don’t salt slugs but it does bring back the memories of all the giggling my brother and I did!
Hearing the sound of of the SnoCone truck are a rare occurrence for my children. An ice cream truck occasionally comes around the ball park during tournaments and one frequents the local pool/park. Every Summer, I can remember a little white truck, brightly decorated with images of SnoCones and popsicles with smiling faces aimlessly driving down each block of town. You could hear him coming from several blocks away – it was just enough time to run to our grandparents to ask for $.50! Generic flavors such as cherry, watermelon, lemon, and lime were available but each driver would create their own fun mixtures such as “Tiger’s Blood” or “Superman”. My brother always loved the crazy flavors while I was more traditional with a love for grape or cherry. There is no telling how much money my grandpa spent on us for flavored ice but goodness, it sure was delicious on a hot, Summer day!
My childhood Summers may not have been full of fancy vacations but they were always full of fun, love, and happiness. It was the simple things that have stuck with me throughout all of these years and that I will forever cherish!