Granted it has been a few decades since I was in school, but in those days, school began the beginning of September and closed for the summer as May came to an end. June, July, and August were created for the children to enjoy. When the last bell rang at the end of May, shoes and shirts were suddenly tossed aside, and other than Sunday School and Church during the summer, our small bodies were not encumbered with them.
The asphalt roads were hot and rough, which helped to toughen the soles of our feet to the point that it was difficult for glass, nails or sand spurs to penetrate them. Shirts came off resulting in tans, hair became involuntarily sun-bleached, and our feet enjoyed the experience that one can only get from toes feeling the sand and soil pushing upward between them.
Creeks were fair game for swimming and fishing. Pick-up baseball games happened as quickly as someone suggested, "Let’s play some ball!" Baseball covers had been knocked off, but still served us well, as long as the string did not unravel. Bats that had been broken were repaired with a hammer, a few nails, and reinforced with some tape. Watermelons, cantaloupes, and peaches seemed to be in abundance for our enjoyment. Home-made ice cream sometimes was hand-churned on Sunday afternoon.
June Bugs, a beautiful metallic green insect about the size of a thumb were fair game for a toy. They were slow moving critters when they landed and fairly easy to catch. One only needed some thread from Mother’s sewing machine to attach to one leg of the bug, and then presto, he would provide plenty of entertainment by flying round and round. After we tired of this toy, we loosened the string and returned him to his life of flying in freedom.
Home-made kites were lots of fun when the wind provided enough impetus to keep it aloft. I close my eyes now, and I can still see the message (piece of paper with a hole in the center) working its way upward toward the kite. Tails strung downward from the kites several feet long in a variety of colors knotted together in strips of 6 to 12 inches each. Lightweight sticks, newspaper from the Macon News, and a small amount of glue made wonderful kites. Rolls of string could be found in the trash at the cotton mill.
Seems strange now that we never used to ask what the temperature was. Our biggest concern seemed to be, not how hot the weather would be, but rather whether we could find some tadpoles in a ditch where some rainwater had been trapped. Occasionally the men from the city water department came out to test the fire hydrants, and that was an open invitation to enjoy an impromptu treat as the water pored from the hydrant in a great stream.
Sometimes in the early evening, "lightning bugs", (some people refer to them as fireflies) darted through the air teasing a young boy with its tail section going on and off. The thrill was in capturing the little creature, and placing him in a small jar, enjoying the up close observation of the mysterious changing dark to light phenomenon. Decades later, I find myself still intrigued with them. However I no longer try to catch them, rather I enjoy watching them from a distance.
Nights were some of the most wonderful times of my youth as we gathered under the street light that hung in front of our house as the cry went out loud and clear, "Let’s play hide and seek!" Shrieks of delight came from all the boys and girls who enjoyed the wonderful experience of playing under that old light.