Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):
1) It's the first day of Summer 2014, so let's talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.
2) Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12). Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?
3) Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook or Google+
I grew up in San Diego, California, in the Burlingame neighborhood on 30th Street just east of Balboa Park. Other than delivering newspapers on Thursday and Saturday, I, with my brother Stan, were free as birds. And we flew all over the city, it seemed. We rode our bikes, we went hunting for baseball cards at grocery stores, we played bike tag with other kids in the neighborhood, we played "Stop and Go" on our Flexy Flyers (sort of a Cops and Drivers game), we played hide and seek on the block, we went to the Morley Field swimming pool, we went down to Grape Street Park (4 blocks away) on our bikes or flexies and played baseball (Three Flys Up), hunted golf balls down near the Municipal course, or created forts and paths in the brush.
We always knew about what time it was because the carillion chimes in Balboa Park could be heard for miles. They always chimed on the hour, so at noon we went home for lunch, and at 5 we went home for dinner. My best friend's name was Noble Earl, and his mother's call could be heard half a mile away, it seemed.
The scariest thing we did in the summer was on our flexies. Ivy Street west of 29th Street was a two block long downhill run, with a barrier at the bottom of it. The barrier had a decorative "hole" in it that was about ten feet wide and two feet high. We had great fun racing the flexies down the hill and crossing the finish line. One time, Stan didn't stop in time, hit the curb in front of the wall, and catapulted through the hole in the wall and landed about ten feet below the wall on the rocky ground surrounded by jacaranda trees. It was a close call. We never told our parents about it.
At night, we listened to the baseball games on the radio - home and away (re-created by the announcers based on a telegraph feed). Once in awhile, we would take the bus downtown to go to the minor league Padres games at Lane Field. Sometimes, we played board games or word games with our parents before bedtime, or ran the Lionel model trains around the house.
If I was bored, I would study San Diego street maps to plot my next bike adventure, or make imaginary street maps of a city, laying out the terrain, naming the streets, plotting stop signs and traffic lights, planning bus routes. I wanted to be a city planner, I guess. Or a baseball announcer - I made up a dice game to simulate baseball, made my own lineups (Padres vs. another PCL team), rolled the dice and somehow the Padres always won! I announced the games to the whole house - my folks and brother probably thought I was nuts.
Our summers were pretty carefree. We just played and competed and explored - it was a great environment to be a kid. It was never very hot in San Diego in the summertime. The family started taking vacations in 1954, when I was 10, and maybe next week we'll write about summer vacations.
How did this affect my later life? I really enjoyed the freedom and the responsibility that went with it (e.g., be home on time) and tried to instill that into my children after I married. I love having fun at home or at an entertainment center, or at a baseball game. I have always had hobbies or interests outside of school and work to keep my brain active and always learning new skills or subjects.
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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver