From Memorial Day to Labor Day, my brother and I seldom wore shoes. Hot pavement and thorny stickers were not a deterrent for our bare summertime feet. We rode our bikes everywhere and walked down the block to the community swimming pool every day. I played hopscotch on the driveway, taking great care to draw pretty course squares with colored chalk.
In the evenings, I would sit in the front yard and listen to the cicadas until past dark. Sometimes, on firefly nights, a thrilling game of hide-and-seek might occur.
Mommy made popsicles in metal ice cube trays and watermelon was plentiful along with beans, cucumbers and tomatoes from our garden behind the garage.
On the 4th of July, the annual parade consisted of a legion of kids riding spider bikes with red, white and blue streamers flying from the handlebars, followed by the fire engine from the community’s VFD and finally, a convertible coupe where the town mayor sat in the place of honor, waving to neighbors that lined the streets as the procession passed. The car was invariably adorned with a poster-sized sign on each door inscribed proudly with the phrase “Our Mayor” in boldly colored crayon.
Then, just before 9 o’clock, residents would walk a mile or so down the road to the community park and find a place to sit in the grass until the fireworks started. The volunteers manning the pyrotechnics lit the candles one by one, with a span of 10-15 seconds between each, giving the audience plenty of time to watch in amazement as the sparkles turn to ember and then to smoke.
And it was amazing. Pure magic for a young girl. I felt like skipping all the way home and probably did, swinging my mom’s hand the whole way.