Kids made most of every summer day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 7, 2007

When I was a kid growing up in Franklin, my brother and I spent

just about every day of our summer vacation outdoors. The only time

we’d get bored was on rainy days when we couldn’t play outside, and

then, to liven things up, we’d build tent-forts with sheets and

blankets and play Cowboys and Indians.

When the weather was nice (it seemed much cooler in Virginia in the

summer than it is here, with much less humidity), we went swimming in the town pool, climbed trees, built go-carts and tree-houses, jumped

on pogo sticks, rode bikes, roller-skated and played games — Hide-and-seek, Simon says, Statues, Snake in the gutter, kickball, badminton, croquet, marbles — you name it.

Our back yard was our refuge. In one corner stood a huge elm tree, in which we built a multilevel tree-house.

Part of the tree hung over the street beside our house, so we could spy on everybody’s comings

and goings and drop water balloons on our neighborhood pals.

A real treat in the summertime was when my grandmother would get out

the old hand-cranked ice cream churn and make peach, strawberry or

pineapple ice cream. My brother and I took turns churning the ice cream and always fought over who got first dibs on the creamy, cold

confection left on the paddle.

Cutting open a juicy watermelon in the back yard was another

summertime treat. I don’t remember ever having seedless watermelons

when we were kids, which was just as well because we loved to have

seed-spitting contests. Usually, by the time we finished eating our watermelon, Mama would have to take the garden hose to us to wash off

all the sticky juice. That was as much fun as eating the melon.

As much fun as we had on summer days, summer evenings were equally as

special. All the neighborhood kids would get together and play hide-and-seek at dusk. Our dog, Prince, who was a black lab/German shepherd mix, loved to &uot;find&uot; everyone who hid. All the kid who was &uot;It&uot; had to do was follow Prince in order to ferret everyone out of

their hiding places. If we could catch him, we’d put Prince in the house to make the game more challenging.

After a full day of playing, we’d usually end the evenings sitting on our front porch, where the grown-ups from the neighborhood would visit with each other and catch up on the latest news around town.

Sometimes the kids would take turns telling ghost stories, and the more faint-hearted of us would squeal and cover our ears to keep from hearing about fictional characters like &uot;Bloody Bones.&uot;

After everybody said good-night and we headed inside, my brother and

I would almost be too tired to take our baths. But, Mama always prevailed in her quest to get us into the tub, into our pajamas and tucked into bed.

Funny. I don’t recall ever having had any trouble falling asleep when I was a kid. Now I sit in front of a computer all day long, then toss

and turn all night.

Oh, how nice it would be to return to that simpler, less complicated


CAROL BARKER is region editor of The Times and Democrat in

Orangeburg, S.C. Her e-mail address is She can be reached by phone at 803-533-5525.