There are many sounds to summer. But by far the one that always brings a smile and sets off memories is that of children playing.
School coming to an end in the spring was the sounding bell for a summer filled with fun. While it was daylight, the hours were filled with rollerskating, riding bikes and swimming. Young girls could be found playing jacks or hopscotch or jumping rope. The boys would congregate to play baseball or basketball on the school grounds.
Of course, moms always had chores their children needed to do, but once the chores were finished, unending adventures awaited.
“Telephones” would be made from string and a couple of tin cans. The large, tall tin cans would be turned upside down, a hole punched on opposite sides, a long string threaded through the holes, then the ends tied together to form handles. Each child had a pair of cans they could stand on, hold the string taut, and the races were on.
Foraging would begin in earnest to obtain wood just the right length to use for stilts. The can races were noisy but the stilt racing was downright challenging.
Once supper was finished and the dishes done, it was back outside to play Red Light, Green Light; Mother May I; Statue; Annie, Annie Over; Red Rover; Tag; and, of course, Hide and Seek.
As soon as it was dark, quart canning jars and lids with tiny holes in them were brought out and it was off to catch lightning bugs to use as “lanterns.” The lightning bugs were always released when it was time to go in for the night.
My brother and I were always happy to fill a coffee can with dirt and then armed with flashlights go hunting through the yard for nightcrawlers so we could go fishing the next day. Besides, hunting nightcrawlers extended the length of time we could be outside after dark.
It seemed like all the kids in the neighborhood were at our house since we had the largest yard. Sometimes my folks would sit on the bench Dad had built and watch all of us playing.
Summer days were carefree and filled with joy. Our imaginations were always at work dreaming up things to do and creating new games. We formed teams. And we had rules. No name calling, no bullying, no pushing and shoving, no hitting, no trying to take charge of everything. Any infractions resulted in the offender being escorted off to the side by a couple of children and the situation discussed. I can only recall once that the child who created a problem left and refused to return for the rest of the summer.
A child’s summer should be filled with sunshine, running, jumping, playing, and exploring the world outside their door with friends. And all the time they are playing, they are also learning lessons that will stand them in good stead the rest of their lives.
Sandy Laumeyer is The Courier’s Nashua correspondent.