Summer Reminiscing

Posted on August 1, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

House guests are gone, no more travel for a couple of weeks, and the hot summer days have resulted in some reminiscing as we sit on the porch watching the sunset. Most of our friends are aware that we bought my family home place where I grew up in Clinton, Mississippi. The property had been out of the family for 25 years when we bought it at a bargain several years ago, razed the dilapidated original house and designed our retirement home.

There is a lot of nostalgia in the neighborhood. I delivered newspapers as a boy so I can identify who lived in each house as we walk in the cool of the mornings. I think Bobbye is tiring of me telling of playmates who lived in every house on the block. On the right side of the street was Kay, Keith, Frank, Richard, Tommy, Kirby and Mike. On the left side was Ann, Jerry Lynn, Wynelle, Herbie and Bill.

Growing up, we didn’t wear shoes or shirts all summer except to go to church on Sunday. My twin sister and older brother and I rode our bicycles all over the subdivision. We didn’t wear helmets, and I don’t recall anyone falling and getting a concussion. We shot BB guns at tin cans and blue jays in the peach tree, and no one got their eye shot out.

Since our house had the biggest front lawn, it was the site of baseball games and roughhouse football. Our games didn’t have teams as each one took their turn batting against everyone else out in the field. Football was played more like rugby with whoever had the ball against everyone else. While cutting weeds and cane that had taken over the yard, I found a lost baseball; it wasn’t old and rotten, but it was as if I was finding a ball from my childhood that had been lost in the weeds.

Would you believe that my early childhood was before the era of television in every household? Parents sat out on the porch at twilight after supper while the children chased fireflies and collected them in mason jars with holes in the lid. Eventually, the kids would gather for a game of capture the flag or kick the can. There were no boundaries as we chased each other all over the neighborhood, through back yards and over hedges.

My parents had a farm work ethic they thought I ought to learn, so the days were filled with detestable chores of hoeing the garden, weeding flower beds and mowing the lawn with an old-fashion push mower. My brother and I would take a break as often as we could get away with it to ride our horse, Traveler, around the pasture or wet a hook in our pond under a shade tree.

One of the best memories of childhood summers was Vacation Bible School as I would get out of work for ten days. We got to ride the church bus as it made the rounds picking up all the kids. The highlight of VBS was getting selected to carry one of the flags in the processional. We competed for scripture memorization and heard missionary stories—something that obviously influenced the direction and values of my life. I discovered some of the handicrafts we made still stored among my mother’s memorabilia. And we thought the kool-aid and cookies were really something special!

Sweltering in the summer heat, it is hard to believe that we did not have air conditioning until I was much older. We did have an attic fan to keep the house cool. It was as big and noisy as a B-52 airplane prop. Open a window a few inches and the fan would pull a cooling breeze through the whole house.

It’s as hot as ever in Mississippi; though life is much more comfortable than those childhood years, we felt we had it pretty good. Somewhere along the way I developed a fondness for yard work and the joy of a well-trimmed garden. My dad would be proud!

One Comment on “Summer Reminiscing”

  1. Biscuit

    Hey Neighbor!
    May I come down for a glass of ICE TEA? Sweet Tea?
    Welcome Back to The Neighborhood. I have called this home for 27 years.

    Biscuit T. Sims

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