Tuesday, July 8, 2014

when I think about the summer

I hate bugs and sweating and not having wifi and smelly animals, so it's probably surprising to you that my grandparents grew up in the country and I grew up visiting my great grandparents there. Yup, this suburban, city-friendly girl has an uncle we call Brother (I asked my mom his real name once. She told me, but I forgot) and a second cousin who raised rabbits to feed to his snakes. I often forget that it's a part of me.

My grandparents grew up in a small town outside of College Station, Texas (where Texas A&M is). They got married, which in my mind, basically meant the entire town was in our family. I remember driving along the dirt roads as a kid, sandwiched between my grandparents in their Lincoln and my grandma telling me where her cousin and high school best friend and our uncle's sister-in-law all lived. It was like she knew the entire town and they were all a part of our family tree.

One of my great grandmothers never learned to drive. She lived across the street from her church and down the block from her hair salon - what else did an older lady need? The only store in town - an oversized convenience store with meat and produce, honestly - was a short walk away. I remember making that trek with my cousins on summer days with a few dollars in our pockets to buy cartoon character-shaped ice cream bars and outdated Archie comics. We would bring them back to our nanny's house and fight over who got the prized perch on the shiny red barstool that was so easy to spin around in. The best seat in the house, though, was always Nanny's lap - no matter how big you got, she would rock you and call you sugar the way that only your great grandmother can. My childhood self was terrified of the swing set in Nanny's yard. It had been there since my mom was a kid and had splintered wooden seats and wasn't anchored to the ground at all, so the front legs popped up as you swung higher and higher. I was convinced that one day, one of us would find a way to swing so high that we flipped over the top bar. Part of me was thrilled at the prospect, but I mostly just learned to jump off of the swing gracefully before I got too scared.

My other great grandmother (who is still alive at the age of 98!) lived on the other side of the small town. Her house was always a menagerie of cats and dogs of all ages and sizes who I constantly begged to take home. It was also the house with the aforementioned snake and rabbits and cows that could be seen in a field in the distance. My grandparents lived in Houston but kept a mobile home, known simply as "the trailer," nearby since they visited so often. I remember its scratchy pink sofa and making pallets in corners on the shag carpet when cousins and aunts and uncles filled the space over long weekend trips. I remember staining my socks with the red dirt and sitting on the porch swing, wishing it would go as high as that old wooden swing set. I clamored for tractor rides sitting behind my grandpa and counted down until I was old enough to drive it by myself through the wire fence in the back and making circles around the property. Little did I know I was merely doing his yard work on a riding mower for him. We played outside and ate fresh tomatoes standing over the sink and drank in fresh air not available in Houston.

My grandma, cousin, and me (age 5-6?) on the trailer's porch swing. I had this pic in a scrapbook I made as a teenager which explains the crazy scissors.

When I think about the summers of my childhood, this is what I think of - a tiny town where kids can run to eat ice cream, dirt roads, and swinging into the clouds. I got older, and the country got less cool. My Nanny passed away, schedules got busy, and the trailer is long gone. I think there's even a gas station and a few more paved roads by now. It seems like a lifetime ago and memories that happened to someone else, but I'm so happy they all belong to me.

21 comments:

  1. What great memories of time spent with family. So cool to have everything close by that you can walk to everything. Though now I would really want wi-fi!! Haha!

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  2. Summertime when I was young is something similar in my head, I remember when it stopped and I was sad.

    I am now building summer in Little K's memories and to her it looks like long beach days with ice cream after.

    Thank you for sharing your summer memories, I love that they are so different than who you are now. I would have never guessed!

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  3. what a fabulously written post. my childhood and summer were nothing like this (through no fault of my own or yours) but you wrote it so well that i felt like i was there :)

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  4. Love this! And you're right I would have never guessed. Those are such great memories to have.

    I am a little biased (because I grew up on a farm) but I think nothing can beat country life. I may be a "city" girl now, but I will always be a country girl at heart.

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  5. What a nice story about your childhood summers! I have similar memories of going to visit my great-aunt during summers, I usually would go for 2 weeks, and she use to let me drink a sherry sized wine with water...really it was probably like a tablespoon of wine with water. Her and the neighbor use to have one glass in the afternoons during the summer on the porch. I remember eating tons of watermelon with salt and ham and cheese sandwiches. After she died I was sent off to camp most summers.

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  6. Your childhood summers are adorable! Mine were similar but only when we visited the extended family in-between fields of cotton in Alabama. My grandparents live in bigger Alabama cities so my hometown of Farragut, TN was more of a small town. Still couldn't walk anywhere though because the road to our neighborhood was windy and cars liked to drive too fast. It was across the street from a farm though. haha

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  7. I really love this! I've been writing a series of I remembers about different times in my life (not sure if they'll make it to the blog) and this made me smile big. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I love this! You wrote it so well that I could feel like I was there with you!

    I remember riding on my grandfathers tractor and jumping in horse crap that he used for his garden. He used to have this really old brown pick up truck and it sounded like bats were flying around in the back, but I just loved riding in it with him. I also remember picking berries and playing near the spring in our back yard.

    Childhood summer time memories are the best!

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  9. I grew up in the South - it was more country than small town, but there are good memories. My grandma used to breed pugs..if I could hold a bunch of pug puppies now, I would go crazy. I could go for a porch swing right now.

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  10. So cute! I love this. I love small towns because that's what I knew growing up. Sure it's not exciting, but I think I used my imagination more than I would have growing up in a city.

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  11. I love this post. What great memories! Small town summers really are great.

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  12. How fun! I loved reading this. Great memories!

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  13. I remember when I moved to TN, I was alarmed because so many women I knew did not drive. They told me it was very common and that if they needed to get anywhere their "old man" would just take them.

    -Jackie
    http://ournashvillelife.com

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  14. Oh my gosh, baby Lauren is a DOLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I used to think I was the S-H-I-T when I drove the riding lawn mower. I'd pretend it was a car and use one hand and errythang.

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  15. you know what is crazy to me is to think about that fact that kids these days probably don't get to do things alone like go to the store or the park because the world is a crazy place and that's sad, because that is how i remember summer!

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  16. You've got a mix of city and country- I love it. My dream life is living half the time in the country or beach and half in the city.

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  17. Your Uncle Brother- that is hilarious!! I grew up - for half of my childhood, at least - in the country and it was a STRUGGLE for me to cope with, yes, the bugs and sweat and corn and the 11 different Mr. Shoemakers (yes, that's a real name and yes, there were 11 of them- in the same area code) but now that I'm away and living in the city, I love going back to visit. (You're also welcome for that longest run-on sentence ever right there.) This is such a special post from you though- to be able to write out all of the best and most precious memories, in a place you can go back and visit anytime you want.

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  18. What delightful summertimes! Thank you for sharing. This was a sweet post.

    PS- cute pic! Awwww.

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  19. I love this! The uncle called Brother! The great grandmas and grandmas. Do not love the snake.
    Very enjoyable read.
    Love SMD's Momma
    #Iwillretweet

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  20. It's kind of crazy to me how families and life can change over a few short decades. On my Dad's side, both of my great grandpas were farmers--one had a sheep farm, the other had a produce farm and fed his family off of the proceeds from his roadside produce stand. My Grandma remembers when he traded in his team of workhorses for a John Deere tractor. My other great grandpa literally had a heart attack and died while working on a tractor. My grandpas and uncles still own all of the family tractors that were made in the 40s and 50s--but man, life had changed since those days!

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  21. This was such a fun read! Another part of you I didn't know about! Memories can be so fun can't they? You enjoy your city life now, but it's fun to look back when you filled your summer days with outdoor fun and eating cartoon-shaped ice cream treats. :)

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