Some people say opposable thumbs are what separate humans from other animals. Some argue that it is the complexity of our language. I say it's memory. Elephants may never forget, but as far as I know, the taste of a single cookie has never caused a pachyderm such a rush of memory that they wrote a seven-volume, 1.5 million word novel in its wake a la Marcel Proust. Memory is also notoriously unreliable. It is so fragile that the mere act of calling it up alters it. Yet, the smallest whiff of pencil shavings, say, or the glimpse of a particular shade of red can evoke deep, seemingly long-forgotten, memories. The details may be hazy, almost dreamlike, but the feeling in the moment of recollection is very real. With schools across the area starting up and the calendar, if not the weather, hinting that fall is coming, some HCPL bloggers share their end-of-summer memories.
Enjoy, and share your own end-of-summer memories in the comments!
The Summer Break (1986)
Life can be busy, but with a toddler underfoot life can be even busier, and when things get hectic, people sometimes move a little faster than they should. I learned that truth the hard way as I have many truths in life. I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 1986 and that summer The Karate Kid was back for number 2, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was having its debut, and Top Gun was at the top of the box office. There was one more big hit in my world though; Ryan my 2-year-old was faster than Ralph Macchio or Tom Cruise could ever hope to be! Keeping up with his rambunctious ways kept me in running mode a lot of the time. One morning, I popped out of my bed with that usual mindset of hurrying to the next thing to do, and I caught my little toe on the side of my waterbed—yes, waterbeds were the thing back in the day. Unfortunately, I broke it and that stopped me in my tracks. From then on, for the last days of summer, I hopped around like a wounded rabbit, trying to chase my little shooting star. It was then I wished I was Ferris Bueller with a day off my feet.
I learned a lesson that summer: sometimes we just need to take it slow and pay attention to what is around us, be it hurdles or be it beauty. These days I move quite a bit slower anyway; no toddlers to catch, not as many errands to run, but I have never forgotten that summer and how much pain one toe can cause. Life has a way of slowing us down whether we want to or not. This summer, take the time to go to the beach and just sit and watch the waves. Then go home and check out all the wonderful movies that came out in 1986. There were some great ones! --Carrie V
What a Difference A Day Can Make (2022)
My husband and I made reservations for a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland in December 2019. The airlines, unfortunately, canceled our flights due to the COVID situation. We, fortunately, received a full refund and re-scheduled the trip for early September 2022. We were cautiously optimistic about our trip due to the previous cancelation. We wondered if this trip really was going to happen even when we boarded the airplane for the first leg of our journey which would be from Houston to Atlanta. After we were seated we heard the pilot’s announcement that confirmed our niggling doubts. The pilot announced that our flight from Houston to Atlanta would be delayed due to weather conditions. We feared that this delay would affect the second leg of our journey from Atlanta to Boston, and the final leg of our journey from Boston to Edinburgh.
The first delay achieved the domino effect that we feared. When we finally arrived at the Boston airport, we frantically rushed to the connecting gate of the Edinburgh flight. We told the employees that we were scheduled for the Edinburgh flight. The employees looked none too optimistic, but for some reason they still allowed us to rush to the jetway. To our chagrin, the airplane had already left for Edinburgh. We approached one of the counters and told the employee that we missed our flight to Edinburgh. She replied, “Why did you miss your flight?” Were you eating someplace when the announcements were made? We explained to her our legitimate reason, but no more flights to Edinburgh were available for the evening. The employee booked us another flight to Edinburgh for the following evening at 9 pm and made us reservations at a hotel adjacent to the airport. We felt discouraged and we were not lively company to one another. I saw at least two people cry during our stay in the Boston area. One lady who was standing in front of me in the restroom line was crying, but I did not know the reason. While we were breakfasting the next morning in the hotel the waitress had streaming tears. She was publicly rebuked by her manager for some supposed mistake that she made. Disappointment and hurt really seem to be contagious this day.
We had a long day ahead of us. We were in no mood to explore the historical sights of Boston, and we did not want to risk missing another flight. We returned to the airport to face the long wait for our next flight. One of the ways that I passed the time was aerobically walking around the airport. I also had a couple of books to read to pass the time. My husband played on his smartphone, and we both watched the clock and the screens that had the scheduled flights. This dragging routine lasted for roughly eight hours. We did not know if we would have to expect another disappointment.
The time finally came for us to board our flight to Edinburgh. The airplane left the ground without us hearing any more discouraging announcements from the pilots. My final assurance that this trip was happening is when I saw a bright blue sky at 2:00 am in the morning during United States Central time. Excitement was in the air as all of us passengers stepped off the airplane. In spite of our lost day, my husband and I managed to see all the Edinburgh sights that we wanted to visit. Check out this thorough and helpful Scotland travel guide which was a valuable resource in planning this memorable trip. --Cindy Groover
Right Before Everything Changed (1978)
It was the summer of sleeping late and waking to an empty house because your mother had taken a job and your sister didn't come home from college and never would again. You lay there for a while, incrementally realizing something had changed. The light through the curtain was a little less sure of itself and the leaves of the magnolia in the side yard now cast shadows along its edge. If you turned it on (and you probably did), Steely Dan would have burbled out of your bedside clock radio because they owned that summer. You didn't know it yet, but this would be the last summer that radio would matter to you, The music that would change your life, maybe, sometime later you would come to think, had saved your life or at the very least saved you from a certain kind of life, was never played on the radio. You didn't know a lot back then. You didn't know that your mother's job was a first step toward something else that would mean there would be no more summers of sleeping in, of afternoons at the rec center pool, and of nights in the parking lot behind the bowling alley Those changes would come soon enough. For now, you knew just that the morning light was different and there was no place you had to be but where you were. --davec
A Special Six Flags Summer
In the olden days of 2015, it was the summer before my senior year of high school, and my friends and I wanted to take a road trip like all the coming-of-age teenage movies we grew up watching. With (begrudgingly) a lot of help from my parents, the five of us got a hotel room and tickets to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for one night only. We piled ourselves and our luggage into our friend’s four-door sedan and were off. We planned our trip to go to Six Flags on a random Tuesday in July hoping that the park would be empty compared to the usual congested summer weekends that meant hours of waiting in lines. This was probably the combined best decision ever concocted by a group of 16-year-olds because we had the park almost entirely to ourselves. With no lines in sight for any of the rides, my friends and I got to ride every roller coaster to our hearts' content. I remember vividly how the high-speed ride would slow to its halt and without even releasing the safety bars, the worker at the control booth just asked “Wanna go again?” and sent us back up the steep climb to start the ride over. That is still the greatest Six Flags trip I’ve ever had, and I cherish the memory but it’s bittersweet knowing that I’ll probably never experience such a perfect amusement park trip again. Despite that, these memories help me appreciate my friends and remember my teenage years fondly. I’m not much older now, but the world felt different as a teen, and that trip truly felt like something out of a movie. If you also enjoy comedic and heartfelt teen movies, might I suggest Booksmart (2019) for a fun time that may help you reminisce about the hijinks you used to get up to as teen. --Esteban S.
The Best Day Ever (2015)
When people think of “the best day of my life,” they often think of something momentous. Perhaps a wedding, a birth, or an achievement.
For me, though, one of the best days of my life was a summer day in 2015. Things that year hadn’t been going very well. One highlight though, was that a good friend of mine was staying with me for a few months while he looked for a place to live in the same city, Philadelphia.
I can’t recall how the idea that led to the special day came to us. Knowing us, we were probably talking about the geology and geographical features of Pennsylvania or something. But maybe we were just looking for something fun and different to do.
In any event, we decided to rent a car and take a road trip to the Pocono Mountains and, specifically, to a waterpark resort.
After picking up the car, we headed north. We chose to listen to the radio rather than play songs or podcasts off our phones, and encountered music that wasn’t our usual cups of tea, but it sure was an amusing change of pace. We spoofed lyrics and voices and made each other laugh.
The drive up was spectacular; we were surrounded by trees and climbed up and up into the hills and mountains.
Of course, we had a blast at the water park! We were like kids, running from ride to ride and enjoying the thrills. We got there right when they opened, and we stayed until close. We squeezed as much as we could into our time there.
When it was time to leave, a sprinkle of rain was just starting to fall. “Just in time!” we said, and we started our journey back to Philly. But Mother Nature had more in store for us that day…
The sky darkened with clouds, then grew darker still as night fell. The rain started pouring down in sheets. We pulled off to the side of the road and waited for the storm to pass. I remember lightning surrounding us, and a bolt hitting so close, it shook the car. We sat and talked and watched, in awe. It was one of the most intense thunderstorms we’d ever seen, but after about an hour, it was over.
We continued our journey back to Philadelphia and agreed that that day was a special day. It was a day when we were able to appreciate the joy of songs we’d never hear again, of pure fun riding down countless waterslides, of the beauty of nature in various forms, and above all, of a day shared with a friend on the exact same wavelength. --Kara L.
Summer and Inflatable Pools
The highlight of my summers as a kid in Dallas was pulling out the kiddie inflatable swimming pool each year. Every summer, my mom would buy a new blow-up pool that usually had three large rings that needed to be inflated. We didn’t have a pump for this. Inflating the kiddie pool was all personal air-power. After blowing up the pool and nearly hyperventilating in the process, it was ready to be filled with water.
Mom’s rule was we couldn’t get out and play in the water until the outside temperature was at least 90 degrees. The best way to find out the temperature was to call the weather hotline. One day, I wanted to pull out the pool, so I called the weather number and it was 89 degrees. I called every two minutes during the afternoon until, when it finally hit 90, I donned my swimsuit and ran outside to play.
Getting the inflatable pool ready for play was a ritual all its own. I would pull out the hose, turn on the spigot, and let that first shock of hot water that had been heated by those hose pass into the pool before it cooled down enough that you could splash around in it as the pool was slowly filled.
While waiting for the pool to fill, I would gather up all the toys I wanted to play with. Into the pool I would throw all my Fisher Price people, Barbies and other dolls that could get wet, a couple of Hot Wheel cars, rubber ducks, and rubber balls. By the time I had gathered everything, the pool was filled with water (and toys).
We’d jump in and play. The water in the pool was never very deep. If you sat in the pool, you were lucky if it came up to your waist. I loved lying on my stomach on the pool and swimming as fast as I could in a circle around the perimeter of the pool. My body was half the length of the small inflated pool, so it wasn’t much to go around and around and around, but I loved it.
On days that we didn’t blow up the pool, we’d play in the sprinkler. We’d turn it on in the center of the yard and play games, jumping back and forth in the spray, trying to find spots where you wouldn’t get wet, seeing who could jump the farthest over the sprinkler head, and every other game imaginable. It was most fun when the neighborhood kids would all gather at one person’s house to play sprinkler games.
We spent hours, every day, all summer long, outside in the backyard, playing in the water. Those were good times. --Molly McGinty
Great summer read when you're eight years old: