Hot summers

by Roy Hodge

I have always enjoyed this time of the year. Summer is my favorite time of the year, and until a few years ago, when I began considering myself as “older” and less heat-resistant, I guess I adapted readily to July and its heat.

Thinking about hot summers, I am usually quick to think about the summer mornings when my mother would greet us in the morning with the statement, “It’s going to be a ‘scorcher’ today.” It didn’t take us long to figure out her interpretation of “scorcher.”

But I can’t remember not loving and enjoying the hot days – to me that was summer and the reason why we didn’t have to go to school.

My mother also used to say, when relating my summer day’s activities to my father when he returned home from work, “He (that would be me) lives at that pool. That was probably almost true.

“That pool” was the swimming pool at McKinley Park, two blocks from our house.

Along with my friends, the Fero boys, I would spend the morning at the pool, run home at lunch time for a sandwich and return to the pool to spend the afternoon.

My mother didn’t worry about me because she said I was “born swimming” and as far as I knew that was the truth. I loved the water whether it was in the pool at McKinley Park, or later in the summer, at Oneida Lake where our family always spent a couple of hot August weeks.

My mother was probably exaggerating a little about the “born swimming” thing. The only lessons might have been just a few years after that — standing in the water with hands on the edge of McKinley Pool kicking and splashing.

Neither mom or dad had a history of swimming. My father only wore a bathing suit one time in front of us, and my mother was proud that she could float on her back and had mastered (she thought) the doggie paddle.

Our little house on Wiman Ave. was probably a little more than comfortably warm on those hot summer growing up days. Our bedrooms were all upstairs and were very hot when it came time to go to bed.

Back then, air conditioning was meant for some of downtown’s movie theaters, but not much of the air in our world was “conditioned” – it was hot. On the hottest days we slept on our “much cooler” back porch or in our little pup tent under the big pine trees in our front yard.

Swimming, running and chasing with the other neighborhood kids, or riding my bicycle – all a part of those (hot) summer time memories.

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