So many of my memories of childhood seem very similar to my mother’s. I think those things connect us through the decades.
Summertime in the Deep South
By: Mickey McGuire
Reflection is a commonplace occurrence now that I am sixty. It’s said that as we grow older we start living in the past. I think that’s true to an extent. Short- term memory starts to fade, but our long-term memories are there to relish and relive. My favorite memories of childhood were summer in the Deep South- to be specific, Waycross, Georgia, a railroad town twelve miles northwest of the Okefenokee Swamp and forty miles north of the Florida line. A simpler time, the children of the South lived a slower and sweeter existence. Here are some of my memories from those summers of childhood and teenage years:
Being barefoot from June 1st- September 1st
Shoes came off the day after school ended and went back on when school resumed- hard and fast rule, no sooner or no later.
Sleeping in a room so hot you couldn’t breathe- waiting for Daddy to go to sleep so I could raise a window for the breeze
He was old school and believed a draft over you while sleeping would give you pneumonia.
Watching Daddy plant and tend the summer garden
He always planted purple hull peas, butter beans, Silver Queen corn, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, yellow squash, sometimes eggplant- never zucchini.
Shelling peas and butter beans on the porch in the morning when it was still cool enough to stand it
Eating only garden vegetables for supper with bacon as the meat
Sleeping on cool, crisp sheets that dried in the sunshine
Trying to catch dragonflies off the clothesline- feeling squeamish when I actually caught one with their buzzing wings in my fingers
Catching grasshoppers and caterpillars- trying to race caterpillars
Getting a whipping with the fly swatter from Momma
It was usually because I sassed her or went somewhere that I wasn’t supposed to go.
My last whipping was about 10 or 11 when I stood there not crying- guess she knew a whipping was of no use after that.
Thunderstorms – rain pouring down in sheets from roof/ sitting on our front porch until Momma made me come in because of the lightning
Wading in mud on the dirt road after a good rain- looking for air pockets in the dirt to pop
Drinking sweet ice tea the color of river water
Only one small pitcher was made daily, and I had to wait until supper to drink it. The rest of the day I drank Coke or water.
Going to the air- conditioned grocery stores once a week- Winn-Dixie, Pic-N-Save, Piggly- Wiggly, and later on Harveys- wearing a polka- dotted green and pink mumu dress/gawking at the bagboys and being on cloud nine if they flirted with me
Being able to have ice cream whenever I wanted
Daddy bought a deep freezer when I was ten. Ice cream was always fudge ripple, Neapolitan, butter pecan, or black walnut.
Sleeping until noon as a teenager on Saturday mornings and waking to the smell of cut grass through the bedroom window
Weekends when we went fishing- either fresh water fishing on the Little Satilla River or salt water fishing at the Fernandina Beach pier.
Going to Harriet’s Bluff fish camp every summer for a week to fish- my mother’s idea of heaven on earth- me catching the most fish almost every day
Learning to French kiss for the first time with a boy I met at Harriet’s Bluff
Sleepovers with my best friend Sandra at her house or mine- marveling at the deliciousness of the macaroni and cheese her mother made with the red rind cheese.
Planning our futures to live next door to each other, maybe marry brothers, go to nursing school together, putting on men’s cologne
Going to the skating rink almost every weekend before we could drive- waiting to be asked to skate during “couples only”
Having our drivers’ licenses and FREEDOM!!
I had used my parents’ car for my besties Sandra and Chad to complete the driving portion of their tests despite the fact their parents had forbidden them to drive.
Having my first wreck on the way to work- the first time I realized how the difference of split seconds may cause your demise despite no wrongdoing on your part
First true heartbreak when my boyfriend cheated on me with another girl- Fourth of July, 1973. I have never liked that date since.
The summer of 1974 was a blur in retrospect- mentally preparing for leaving home at seventeen, shopping, saying goodbye to friends and family members. I was going to nursing school-leaving Waycross for the big city Atlanta. There I would meet my future husband at Georgia Tech, my life path forever changed. The sweet summers of my childhood and teenage years disappeared and were replaced with summers blurred with responsibilities of adulthood.Time to savor vanished. Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.
Time to savor vanished.Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.
Only now forty years later have I begun to pause and wait and listen and absorb once again. This empty nest phase scary at first, I am slowly acclimating and beginning to appreciate its significance.
New memories of summer:
First cup of coffee to the buzz of hummingbirds
Comforting routines with my animals
Applauding successes of my three children
Laughing and playing grandchildren
Sweet tea all day (with half the sugar)
Naps and reading
And, the best…
Barefoot all year long
Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.