For schoolchildren in the 1960s, May was a busy month full of exciting culminating events to a long school year: school concerts, scouting events, class trips to the Toledo Zoo or the Toledo Museum of Art or Greenfield Village. Each school year’s grand finale was an entire carefree day playing and picnicking at the North Baltimore Park.
Interspersed with all of this excitement was the inevitable countdown to the last day of school. During this waiting period, time crept slowly, but finally the much anticipated day would eventually arrive. Farewells were shared with teachers and classmates who lived in other neighborhoods. Finally, with our hearts bursting with freedom, we would gleefully ride our bikes home to begin what seemed like an endless summer.
The title “Endless Summer” has been used many ways: first for an acclaimed 1966 documentary about surfers, then for a hit Beach Boys album, more recently as the name for a genetically modified tomato, and even as the title of a SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon. For me, “Endless Summer” signifies a sentiment that I experienced many times as a child in North Baltimore. If I could recapture just one thing from my childhood, it would be that magical feeling of summer stretching out ahead of me, unplanned and with no end in sight.
On the first day of summer vacation, I remember the kids from the Beecher Street gang discussing the upcoming summer. Little League games were always a hot topic, both for the boys and the girls. The boys played on baseball teams and the girls liked going to the park on summer evenings during the boys’ games to snack at the concession stand and chat with friends. Family vacations were always part of the conversation. For me, I was awaiting an annual family trip to northern Michigan. Some of us went to church camp and there was much discussion about which church camp was best. I don’t know which was best, but I do know that my Camp Mowana memories, a Lutheran church camp near Mansfield, are among my very favorite. Other events sure to become part of the endless summer were a trip to Cedar Point, a drive-in movie, July 4 fireworks, and the Wood County fair.
I clearly recall the most urgent question asked by the Beecher Street gang in early June. “When will it be warm enough to start swimming at the Wixom Quarry?” During my childhood, it seemed like the first couple weeks of summer were often too cool for comfortable swimming at the quarry. This is possibly my only summer disappointment that I still recall.
As a true lover of summer, warm weather, outdoor activities, and time spent in a lawn chair, I grieve for that endless summer feeling I experienced as a child in North Baltimore. I structure my vacations to add a little more summer to my life by staying in Ohio as much as possible during our beautiful summers and using my vacation time to add some tropical warmth during the cooler Ohio months. As hard as I try, I know that magical feeling is long gone though.
Unfortunately, current research proves that my endless summer feeling is gone forever. “As people get older, they just have this sense, this feeling that time is going faster,” says Warren Meck, a psychology professor at Duke University. “This seems to be true across cultures, across time, all over the world.”
As adults, we know that summer no longer seems endless, but I’m going to do my best to embrace every marvelous minute of summer 2013. I plan to wear flip flops, eat fresh sweet corn and tomatoes, sit in a lawn chair chatting with my friends at a neighborhood pool, take a long walk every day, read good books, and enjoy outdoor festivals.
And here’s wishing that you enjoy your best Ohio summer ever!