It would begin as our school would gather around the flag pole, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and count down the beginning of summer. It was an semi-official way to say, "Get your fannies out of here and have some fun!"
Summers were simple back then - play, play and then play some more. On the docket: wake up, go outside and play, come in for a grilled cheese, go outside and play, come in for dinner, outside again until it was pitch black. If you were really lucky, your mom might drop you off for a matinee, afternoon Batman.
Did televisions work in the summer?
Summer had one outing on the agenda - swimming lessons. If we were lucky, swimming lessons included an added bonus - a stop at Seven Eleven for slurpees. The last day of swimming lessons included a dream stop for a massive, adult-sized milkshake. We would stand in the parking lot, swimming suits still dripping, trying to outrace the sunshine to see who would get to the luscious, melty cream first.
Back then, summer was spelled F-R-E-E-D-O-M and freedom was spelled B-I-C-Y-C-L-E. I knew where all three dirt tracks where within 2 miles and which one had the best jumps. We would ride for hours and come home with bent rims, popped tires and sunburned ears.
I don't recall ever putting on a lick of sunscreen. Was SPF even invented back then?
The old Dirks Field was the perfect place for a young chap like I to spend five bucks on a summer evening. The five dollars went for three packs of baseball cards, which I would sort and trade for hours on our front lawn. If you have an unopened box of 1987 Topps baseball cards, I can still tell you which pack will have the Mark McGuire in it.
If you had a large piece of cardboard, your house became the designated "break dance center". Of course, the cardboard provided a slick surface for me to show off my moon walk. More importantly, the cardboard was a safety device for those that felt the need to head spin. The kid with the boom box always went first. No one ever head spun.
One of my friends owned a camcorder - it had to be the world's first. We once spent three weeks straight filming our GI Joes in the sandbox, only to have the camera eat the tape during the final scene. Somewhere, video footage of our epic dunk ball tournaments still exists.
In the 80's, you could only spend so much time playing Atari. Instead of ADD kids playing video games to calm down, video game kids would go outside to simply avoid having to play Centipede for a 86th time in a row.
Didn't have an in ground pool in your back yard? A 6 foot in diameter, plastic one worked fine. Didn't have a 6 foot plastic pool? A Slip and Slide was even better. If you had the Slip and Slide with the splash-down pool at the end of it, it was kid-world ecstasy and you were the king.
In those days, no one worried about safety. As a kid, you knew two important rules: Don't take apples for trick-or-treat (on account of the razor blades) and stay away from people with black vans (on account of the razor blades).
I owned night time in the summer. Kick the can, capture the flag, simple tag - we would play until our parents would scream at us to come home or until our Tevas made our feet bleed. Once in bed, the words "over the can on Esther" would repeat in my head like an awful Cool and the Gang song.
We really should have had that can bronzed.
Movies were always at the Trolley or the Tower and later at Movies 10. Lemonade stands were always given up on after an hour. Swimming was always enjoyed at Fairmont park, Hygeia or the water slide that is now a Wendy's.
It seemed as though summer would last until October, but alas, it always ended that last week of August. I would pack up my Pogo Ball, rollerblades and Nash skateboard and head back to school. There, I would sit restlessly, peeling my sunburned ears until the next unified, school-wide Pledge of Allegiance - my freedom restored.