Saturday, August 8, 2009

In The Good Old Summer Time

In the good old summertime, in the good old summertime.
Strolling through the shady lanes with your baby mine.
You hold her hand, and she holds yours,
and that's a very good sign.
That she's your tootsie-wootsie,
in the good old summertime.

This song was published way before I was even thought of (1902 -, but it was one I remember hearing as a kid. Probably because it was used, as the title song for the 1949 musical by the same name starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson. And no, I was not born in 1949. Close, but not quite (six years later).

I actually started singing it today because my daughter is dog sitting and one of the dogs is named Tootsie. Every time I say the name I hear "In the good old summertime" in my head. You know how the mind works; you see something and although it registers as what it is, your mind takes you somewhere else and before you know it you're shaking your head in an attempt to return to reality.

I remember planning a break-in years ago, to the company I worked for because swipe cards were being installed so that employees could access the building within normal working hours. I received the email informing us of the installation and in my little cubicle, while working on setting up a program, my mind took me from reading the email to determining when I could swipe and how long it would take me to enter the building, grab what I wanted and then leave before the PoPo showed up. I caught myself mid-thought and felt like a criminal for even thinking of such behavior. I nearly turned myself in. And there you are, another case of the mind taking over. I just went to another place and time while sitting here at my computer. The mind is a powerful thing, isn't it.

So today, as I sang "In the good old summertime" I was transported back to when life was simpler. Less stressful. More innocent. My childhood. Yes, at 54, I can still remember. It's almost like yesterday, with a slight blur.

I've often wished we had the benefit of video like our kids have. If we had, I'd show them what we did when I was a kid. Every Summer, without fail, we'd spend time in the backyard. A whole day in the backyard was typical, especially on weekends. The family whose home was behind our house had five kids. The first was older than my oldest brother and the last was younger than my younger sister. That family moved into their house shortly after my parents purchased ours so us kids grew up together.

When the weekend rolled around while us kids hung out doing whatever it is kids did in those days, our parents would gather at the back gate. Now the gate was installed so that we had easier access to each others yards since we did spend so much time together. However, soon after the installation Mrs. neighbor put a lock and chain on the gate. She claimed to have put it there so that we would stop going back and forth so much. I know, I know; it makes absolutely no sense at all but there it was. So instead of either set of parents coming or going, they'd sit at the back gate; literally pull up their chairs and sit. Strange as it may sound, it was a good time.

A radio would be on somewhere close by with anything from the Dodgers game to Mariachi in the background of the conversation. And it never took long before a beer for the gents or a soda for the ladies would appear. Once the music started it was just a matter of time before Mr. neighbor would sing the one and only song I think he ever learned "Sonora Querida" and with that there was always the possibility of a dog or two joining in soon thereafter. Of course there was always crackers and those God awful sardines. Every once in a while Mr. neighbor would make his specialty Clams, chili and V8 or something of that nature. I remember him making me taste that stuff; I never fully recovered from the rubbery chew I experienced that day.

Every now and then Mr. & Mrs. neighbor would actually climb over the fence to join us on the patio. Most times it was because we either got to a point where we needed real food or because someone else would show up at our house. Often times it was my Aunt Grace and Uncle Joe because they were at our house almost as much as Mr. & Mrs. neighbor were and even though Mr. & Mrs. neighbor were not related, they somehow thought they were. I don't think we could have convinced them otherwise unless we had a notary sign some kind of documentation stating such. They even baptized one of my cousins that's how much a part of our family they became.

I so often think of those days especially now, Summertime. I think of Burrito and Speedy Gonzales, Mr. & Mrs.' Chihuahua and Desert Turtle. I think of our Avocado, Apricot and Plum trees. The trees that if your branches hung into the neighbors yard, they had free access to the fruit even though none of their trees hung into our yard. And I think of my sister Michele and our matching turquoise and white tent dresses. Ahhh, the good times. The bare feet, the cutoff shorts, the dough boy pools, salamanders and Dirt! We definitely played in the dirt; even the girls.

I know every generation says it but here goes...."times were much simpler". And communication was better because you actually saw people face to face more often and Summer time was a perfect excuse to hang out in the back yard. Wow! I never realized until now just how much I miss that back yard.

Juan Carlos and I decided to drive by the house the other day, even though it was a little out of the way for us. I'd seen it before but was saddened to see that my favorite tree in the whole world had been cut down from the front yard. As for the rest of the house (the outside anyway), it looked good. It's painted light yellow now. I so wished I could knock on the door and ask if I could look around for just a bit.

Yes, the house holds memories of the good old summertime but as it's been said "it's only a house, the memories are what we hold in our heart and that goes with us every where".


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

You have evoked such memories in me; I remember the apricot tree that stood tall and permanent next to Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor's gate. I remember Michele and I playing in the mud one particular day---I had the time of my life. I remember as well, when I was really young, receiving on many occasions, your hand-me downs!! I will never forget a certain dress that was in one of the bags;it was a turquoise blue corderoy dress with little rhinestones on the bodice. I could only wear it for one school year, but it was my favorite dress. I remember your mom's chocolate cake, and yes, I remember those sardines that my beloved uncle would devour. Remember going to collect bottles and then going to the liquor store to cash them in for candy or RC cola? funny life works...there is no way to go back in time, only in our memories, but wow, that makes for excellent story-telling, which is what you do so well. Bisous ma chère, Anita

Bunny Missbrenner said...

I'm glad you said it first because when I say things like that my girls say something about how old I am. Don't even get me started on childhood summer stuff...OK... a little. Playing in the street till well after dark, putting on plays for the neighbors, selling fruit door to door with my little red wagon, jumping the fence at the riverbed and exploring...and on and on.


Marie said...

Yep! I hate that we've really, really started to sound like our parents now. It's too late Bun, there's no going

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Thanks for coming to discover my latest "follie"! I don't think that you came to my first theatre presentation; it was a blast. As you can see, I got a bit of my dad's tendency to make junk out of junk! I made the little theatre that you see on the blog back in March, so I wrote a play to go with it! I wrote the first three acts and then had readers submit their version of the final act. I then posted them and had people vote for their favorite act. The winner won a handmade book of the play with their name as author of the final act! Silly but darn fun. The plays are just short little works; I did the first one during the school year, in the middle of my own job as a teacher and in the middle of one of my most difficult courses in the Masters program. How am I possible? :) Do keep posted...Oh, and yes, I do still draw, especially for my students. It is an ability that comes in handy as a teacher! Bisous, Anita

Debbie said...

Awwww, yes, playing outside on warm summer nights, kids today don't have that experience anymore. One of my favorite memories of summer was when my parents would go to the market after my dad came home from work and they'd buy summer fruit and I would stand on the porch eating a sweet nectarine thinking to myself that THIS was happiness!