Looking back: Summer nostalgia

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

There was a time when the innocence of youth provided a colorful array of adventures. The mind could wander, the imagination your constant companion. There were adventures and opportunities that might not otherwise exist, there was love, companionship and friendship to spare. As I sat upon the open fields of my youth, I could be anything and anyone, all I needed was a dream.

Summer would arrive just in time for this adventurous child over 50 years ago. No shirt, no shoes and no concerns, I would wander the open fields of White Park, spend hours swimming in the aqua-colored pool and pick blueberries for fresh muffins. I did not know the pain of sorrow or disappointment. If you had a nickel, you would buy a cold drink at the corner store, if you didn’t have a nickel, it really didn’t matter.

I came of age during a period when there were no social media influencers. Kids knew little of social class; it didn’t matter if you wore designer clothes or shirts with holes. We accepted and embraced over a casual game of kick the can, flashlight tag, kickball or baseball. There were simple games of football without helmets and we rode our bikes faster and farther than we cared to tell our parents. Rarely did we hear about crime, or stealing or even worse.

As we aged, we sought our own employment in the form of paper routes, mowing lawns, shoveling driveways. If we belonged to an organization such as Boy Scouts, we sold greeting cards and candles to our parents and neighbors so that we could pay for our summer camp. We knew the value of a dollar because we earned every cent on our own, and we held respect and appreciation deep in our hearts.

We honored our dead on Memorial Day and understood the meaning of the Fourth of July, feeling pride as we gazed towards the sky over Memorial Field. The dog days of summer were revered and complaints were never filed during those warm months on the calendar of my youth.

As the summers of my youth continued and Labor Day signaled another school year was to begin, we were excited to return to the scent of books, pencils and paper. We heartily compared our new school schedules and looked forward to meeting our new teachers. Sometimes we were really pleased and other times we were not, perhaps we shared a class with a friend, if not we simply made new friends. We walked to school for the next nine months regardless of the weather and appreciated the hot lunch we had in the school cafeteria.

When we graduated from high school some left Concord destined for college, some prepared themselves for boot camp while others simply worked and continued in the steps of their fathers and grandfathers.

Regardless of the road we chose to journey in life, we all shared the same destination. Over the years I came to realize that my parents had a wealth of common sense, they loved me, I loved my siblings too. I remember my earliest pets and my very best friends. Each day is a lesson, we need to have compassion, consideration and good manners. We need to say please and thank you while we hold the door for the person behind us. It is important to help those that are down when we are up and smile when we feel sad.

As this summer progresses and children embark on their wonderful adventures, take the time to be a child with them. Watch a movie together, read a book, use every color in the box of Crayola crayons, walk in the rain and eat ice cream.

We only have a limited number of days on this earth, remember the past and embrace the future.

Author: James W. Spain

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