This past week Ron and I and our boys drove through a town called Many, (pronounced man–ee) in west-central Louisiana. It is a town where I lived as a young girl. I was amazed at how some things had not changed and others were frozen in time. I showed Max and Zach my house, and the backyard where I made snow angels (the story’s on page 32 in my book). The yard still looked big to me. I showed them the stump of the former tree where I carved my name with the name of the boy I liked and wanted to kiss “Celia + Scott”. I showed them another huge tree that used to have a rope in it. I remember swinging out over onto the roof of an old shed until one of the neighborhood boys went through the roof. That incident ended our Tarzan reenactments. I showed them the hill that my friends and I rode our bikes down. It used to seem enormous. I showed them the old Sabine Theater where I used to watch John Wayne movies and the good old make-you-ugly-cry movies like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. We retraced the path where I used to ride my bike and buy a Richie Rich comic book and fudge ripple ice cream cone. I showed them the Baptist church where I played basketball and the water tower that sprung a huge leak one summer and the kids in our neighborhood all played in the water for hours. That tower seems to have shrunk. I showed them the Catholic Church that had an after school program. They had ping pong and pool tables and we would play every week there. I showed them the church that my dad served First United Methodist Church. It was where I learned “Hallelu, Hallelu, Praise Ye the Lord” and “If I Were A Butterfly, I’d thank you, Lord” and “Do Lord” and many other songs. It was where I attended Vacation Bible School with my friends and where my girl scout troop met. I showed them where the Middleton sisters lived and I know why I love old Victorian homes so much. They had a Victorian home across the street from the library and we drank tea on their porch and they had a basket of children’s books for me to read.
I remember my last summer in Many. It was summer of 1975 and I was on a quest. My friend Annette and I were working toward a pair of Icee towels. You had to save proof of purchase coupons clipped from the cups. You could earn a beach towel from Icee and we each wanted a towel. We had to mail in one hundred Icee coupons and three dollars for each towel. (According to Icee.com, the beach towel is now 500 points and $20). For weeks we rode our bikes around town looking and gathering coke bottles to redeem for a nickel each. We used the money to buy Icees and toward the $3. We had a system–we’d collect, clean and then trade them for our money. I can’t tell you how long this process took, but in the middle of that summer, our towels finally arrived. We would display them proudly at our local swimming pool or in my back yard with our slip and slide. I still have that towel today. I spent those summers with my best friends–Annette, Barbara, Sandra, Pam, Jill, Rebecca and I have fond memories of our time together.
At another recent stop in southwest Louisiana, I helped my boys catch green lizards with a friend Noah in his yard. Last week I smiled at their response after I caught one on the side of Noah’s house. Zach said, “My mom’s caught those guys before.” All I could do is smile as I put the lizard in their bug cage. “You bet I have guys … and it’s always fun!” (Incidentally, no lizards were harmed in the making of this newsletter. They were set free that evening to find their families and friends. We’re all about catch and release.)
A few days ago I received an email forward from Debbie, a friend in my book club. It was simply titled “do you remember when?” I rarely have time to sit and read email forwards and hardly ever take the time to forward them on, but this one was good and it got me thinking.
I remember … when summer lasted forever and I took my shoes off last day of school and didn’t put them back on till I had to go back to school after Labor Day, …lying on my back in the grass with friends and saying things like, “That cloud looks like a…” …eating watermelons, …snow cones (rainbow was my favorite flavor), …staying up late to watch a meteor shower, …playing tag until it was too dark to see, …making promises and keeping them, …sleep-overs, …homemade/hand churned peach ice cream; …climbing trees and riding on the handlebars of a bike with a banana seat, …shucking corn and shelling peas on my grandmother’s porch, …baseball cards in the spokes transforming your bike into a motorcycle, …water balloons fights, …catching fireflies for an entire evening.
As I reflect on summers gone by, the thing I remember the fondest is the goodness of it all–the simple blessings that I received. I enjoyed walking my sons down my memory lane and reflecting. As I recounted my memories to Max, Zach and Ron, we talked about what we are loving about our current summer. What made those times special and what makes today special are the people I am spending my days with and making time for simple things. Think about it. I’ll bet it’s true for you as well. Make some time to play today and make it a wonder-filled summer . . Celia
PS I had to pause in the midst of writing this devotional thought to retrieve a toad frog from under the couch, the adventure continues.