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Rated: E · Column · Biographical · #1678396
Recalling My Youth
As another Memorial Day passed yesterday, I found myself reflecting on the summer of years gone by. Oftentimes when I look back over the years of my life through a narrow magnifying glass, it seems like my life has been unremarkable and uninteresting, and that much of it was spent searching for things that seemed just out of my grasp.

But when I look at the years through a large window as I did yesterday, and see the big picture of what was going on around me, I remember just how special most of my years have been. I have especially fond memories of the summers of my youth. I graduated from high school in 1982, so most of my formative years were in the mid to late '70s.

The thing I remember most about the summers was that I was outside almost all the time. We had a lot of kids about my same age living on our street and block, so it was never hard to find something to do. We would spend hours on our bikes, riding around the town and usually stopping at Dairy Queen for a big ice cream cone. If there was just a few of us, we would often go to the junior high not far from my house and set off our model rockets there. I bought a skateboard with some of my early paper route income and enjoyed cruising down the hill by our house. This was the real early days of skateboarding, so my friends and I were not into the fancy tricks and all the things the kids do now on their boards, but I loved it just the same.

In the afternoon, we would get a game of kickball or baseball together in somebody's yard if we could gather enough kids. If we didn't have enough, then we would play croquet or badminton or just toss the frisbee around for a couple of hours. And on the REALLY HOT days, Mom would drive us to Shady Oak Beach where we would swim until she forced us to get out of the water, kicking and screaming. I have great memories of the high dive at Shady Oak, and remember how scary it was for me the first time I dove from it.

After supper, the fun and games would really begin. As I said earlier, there were many kids of my age in our neighborhood, and after supper, usually around 6:30 pm or so, the kids began to congregate, usually in front of my house or the next door neighbors, the Shreves, and we would play a huge game of Capture The Flag or Green Ghost. If we played Green Ghost or Tag or one of the games that simply involved running around the outside of somebody's house or yard , then we all stayed put in one yard. But when we had over a dozen kids , which we often did, we played Capture The Flag. In that game, the entire neighborhood was used , as we all knew whose yards we could run through and whose yards we needed to stay away from due to extreme punishment such as grounding. I don't remember exactly how those epic games began on a near nightly basis, but we did do that for a few years and each summer more and more kids from farther out in the neighborhood would join in.

Thinking back on those days reminds me of how different our world is now than it was then. But most importantly, it reminds me how much I miss "summer vacation".
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