– Eddie Cochran
If you were a child 50 or 60 years ago, June was the best month of the best time of year.
Better than Christmas because it was longer.
Better than your birthday because everybody shared the joy at the same time.
I’m not sure it’s that way anymore. Each evening when I walk around the neighborhood, I am struck by the quiet.
The yelps and whoops and laughs and shouts of my youth are gone, replaced by … the hum of air-conditioning units.
For me, summer vacations in the new millennium raise more questions than answers, and here are just a few:
• Does anybody race on bicycles anymore? Do they build ramps and jump them like daredevils? Do they wreck, wipe out, wash out? Wimp out?
• Do they make incredible dares, then fulfill them … and afterward stand around comparing scabs?
• Does anybody drink from a garden hose, or is that an even-odd thing today?
• Are slingshots forbidden by law or monitored by Homeland Security?
• Do the boys of summer play ball in the street, imitating the swings of their favorite baseball stars, compensating for the occasional tree standing where an infielder should be?
• Do they still hoard baseball cards, not as investments but as connections to those whose talents they admire?
• Do kids still sit on porches after a day of reading comic books and heatedly debate who is faster, Superman or the Flash?
• Do they still talk an adult into lighting a grill so they can roast hot dogs or marshmallows – or both?
• Do they make tents out of old bedspreads and spend the night telling scary stories by flashlight?
• Do they still wait for the ice cream truck, even if it’s always out of Nutty Buddys?
• Do they still play tag? Freeze tag? Stoop tag? Do they have tag teams?
• Do they have sword fights with sticks? Winner gets to be Zorro.
• Do they play card games, board games, basketball games? Do they invent games?
• Do they still build and paint model cars only to blow them up the following week when someone finds some firecrackers?
• Do they still tell ghost stories on dark porches on summer nights? And does everyone jump even though they know the punch line of The Man With the Golden Arm?
• Do they catch lightning bugs in a jar?
• Do they wonder the next morning why?
• Do they read stories, write stories or tell stories?
I think they could, but they probably don’t.
That’s why it’s going to be a quiet summer in my neighborhood.