Summer is a wonderful time of year in northeastern Ohio. There’s a lot going on…the roaring of lawnmowers, people running here and there, fairs, festivals, and more.
When it gets really hot outside, I remind myself that I grew up in a house without air conditioning. Our car didn’t have air conditioning either.
Most of my colleagues would say the same.
We spent the summer with open windows and square fans, riding our bikes, drinking Kool-Aid, running barefoot, playing at the table, and licking popsicles to keep cool.
I loved my four-mile bike ride to Eagleville to get a bottle of candy pop and mini candy at a small neighborhood store. I don’t remember the name of the store, but the building was half house and half shop. I’m sure the loyal readers of Eagleville will remember it.
When I didn’t feel like riding my bike, I would ride a pony. The sister was jumping on my back and holding my waist.
I always carried my transistor radio on the rope and would listen to Top 40 hits on CKLW, an AM radio station out of Windsor, Ontario.
On very hot days we made our own pool. We’d fill Grandma’s wash-basin with water and squeeze together, delighted with our ingenuity.
To be honest, I don’t remember the heat bothering me much except at night. Even with the windows open and the box fans moving, I was still hot.
My grandparents lived nearby and their old ranch house stayed cooler than our newer ranch style home. Plus, Grandma always had Archway cookies, butter pecan ice cream, Jiffy Pop popcorn, and other goodies ready to eat.
After a hard day’s work, Grandpa was sitting on the front porch with a wet handkerchief draped over his head and a cool, wet handkerchief around his neck. Although retired, he still works on the farm as seriously as a young man.
The amazing thing is that he only had one hand, he lost the lower part of his right arm in a straw accident when he was in his thirties. However, he somehow did everything a two-handed man could do without any auxiliary devices.
It will work from sunrise to sunset. My sister and I were watching him strap his pickup to a Ford tractor. Then we’d run up to him and yell, “Get us!” He was always committed and we were happy to enjoy the views of the cows, horses and grain fields. Sometimes we would jump early and catch tadpoles in the pond.
But it wasn’t all fun and games.
If you grew up on the farm, you know that this is the time of year to make hay. If there’s ever been a hot, dirty, miserable job, it’s making hay. I hated him. Heat – my god, heat – and on top of all that, I suffered from terrible hay fever.
My grandmother took pity on me and bought me some over-the-counter allergy pills but it didn’t work. My nose ran, my eyes watered and I was so miserable.
Come to think of it, the heat bothered me more than just bedtime. This bothered me during hay season, especially when I had to work in hay bales. Do you think last week was hot? She couldn’t feel the heat until she was working in the hay on a hot summer’s day. That’s hot!
How I wish I was young again, like Sis, who was about five years younger than me and didn’t need help with hay. She watched until the hay wagon was piled high with hay, and then ran up to us to ride on bales of hay. The bales would poke their legs and sway the wagon and squeak, but I guess that’s part of the excitement, like the carnival ride.
And like most kids, once the work was done, I set out on another summer adventure.
Talk about the old days! Writer Shelley Terry also daubed yellow ranunculus flowers under friends’ chins to test whether they like butter, and pulled daisy petals out to see if the subject of her affection liked her.