I remember the first day of summer when I was Snow White’s age. School was out! Mom made us a really big breakfast. After we ate she showed us around the kitchen as if we had never seen it before. This is what she said to all four of us…
This is the refrigerator. It is here to keep food and drinks cold. This is not an alternate air conditioner. Do not stand in front of it with the door hanging wide open. Think of what you want and then open the door. There will always be a full pitcher of Kool-Aid in here for you.(very diluted, barely any sugar)
This is the bread box. Open it up and wal-la there is bread. Take two slices of bread and put it on the counter. Over here is a cabinet. Open it up and there is peanut butter (we had flavored peanut butters - chocolate, banana, regular). In the refrigerator is a jar of jelly. Spread the peanut butter on one piece of bread and spread the jelly on the other piece of bread. Put them together like so and you have a snack. This can also be lunch. If you make a mess in the kitchen you clean it up. Put the peanut butter, jelly, and Kool-Aid back where it belongs. Rinse out your glass and put it on the counter before you leave the kitchen. You will use the same glass all day. I want you to have as much fun as possible during the summer, but do not want to make extra work for me.
It seemed every time I saw my mother during the summer she was washing clothes, sweeping floors, on her knees scrubbing floors, hanging clothes out to dry, cooking dinner, etc. The only times I remember her sitting was at her sewing machine making clothes for us, at the dinning room table going over the bills or sitting for a moment or two together during dinner. Year round she would pop up and down from the dinner table to get this or that. I don’t think my mother sat down for more than 5% of my whole childhood. Sheesh! I sure feel for all the SAHMs.
My summer gallivanting consisted of riding bikes all over the neighborhood with my brothers and friends. All four of us would play games with all the kids in the neighborhood. We had bike races, played Cowboys & Indians, freeze tag, hide & seek, raced flowers or clovers in a little stream. My friends and I played with our Barbies OUTSIDE. That’s right, we were allowed to play with them in the back yard, the grass, the dirt and on the driveway. We would run out of the house yelling “Mom! We’re going to Edna & Kelly’s!” and she would respond “Be back by dark!”
When we played at a friends house we played outside. Going inside during the summer meant we were thirsty, it was time to eat or the dreaded “Why do I have to come in now? It’s not really all that dark. Johnny doesn’t have to go in yet.” Everyone knows what followed that statement “I’m not Johnny’s Mother. I am your Mother.”
If by chance one sibling did not arrive home at dark Mom would walk the rest of us around the neighborhood looking at each yard for the missing siblings bike. Your bike in a neighbors yard was always the tell tale sign of your where abouts. We never left the house without our bikes during the summers. One way of getting all the children in doors was the "Mosquito Man”!
Every other evening around dusk the Mosquito Man would drive his truck up and down the streets of our neighborhood with bug spray shooting out the back. I recall many of us riding our bikes about a block away from home. Suddenly you could hear other kids screaming! We all stopped our bikes and listened intently. All of a sudden, the screaming...stopped. We would then hear a familiar but scary swooshing noise. Then.....RUN!! Oh No! It’s the...the.. MOSQUITO MAN!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! We would pedal as fast as our little legs would go! Trying not to breath! All the way home! Throw down our bikes in the middle of the yard and burst through the front door gasping for breath.
Thinking back on Mosquito Man and the fact this was in the mid 1970s, makes me wonder what was in that spray? How could they spray chemicals in the air around little children? If I seem a little “odd” from time to time I am going to blame it on the Mosquito Man. Yeah, um, that’s it.