Family · Mom · Self · Tennis

Childhood Summer Quick Vignettes

I always hated this point in the summer growing up. I knew it was time to go back to school because the Little League World Series was on TV. Once I saw Williamsport, PA, it felt like the fat lady was backstage.

So much fun was behind us…Camp at Derby Academy, our 2 week long family summer vacation to Brewster, MA and tennis camp at Kingsbury were done. Now it was just a matter of sucking the marrow out of the next few weeks, knowing that the first day of school came closer and closer as each day passed. Mark and I would ramble about, for these next few weeks, at Mom’s school, play tennis, use the gym, grab ice cream with my Mom’s administrative assistant and sometimes be forced to break back into the building because we did not want to disturb the important meetings going on inside. I was reminded of this feeling of impending doom when I watched an inning of the Little League World Series over the weekend.

“Oh no, the summer is almost over.”

So in thinking about summer, I want to write some Memories of summer’s past that I never want to forget. What lies below does not represent my best writing, they are just memories as they came to me.

My family’s first vacations on the Cape were in Dennis, MA. We walked to the beach each day. One house along the street had rocks all around the house, instead of bark mulch. The beach was great because my brother and I could catch small snails and minnows in the mesh nets they sold at Christmas Tree Shoppe. Buckets would be filled with water and sand as we took our finds back to our blankets and chairs. Later, as the sun went down, we headed back to the house and took showers outside to rinse off the sand. Mark, Dad and I would play some ‘roof ball’ and then it was time for dinner at the picnic table outside. Roof ball was Dad’s gaming invention, which included the following gear a sand bucket and a wiffle ball. The game was simple. Throw the ball up on the slanted roof of the cape, and wait for the ball to roll down and catch it with the bucket. The first to catch the ball won, but really we all won because it was fun. I remember the bedrooms and enjoying the beach so much, the smell of Coppertone and corn on the cob. I remember how the bathroom smelled in that particular house, like the beach and cleaning agents. We used large clam shells as soap dishes. It was also the place where I began to define the elements of my summery, beachy persona. One element is enjoying the sand that would inevitably end up on the bedroom floor and, even sometimes the bed. It still excites to this day when there is sand on the floor. You bring part of the sanctity of the beach with you.

Later, our family moved our Cape escapes to Brewster, MA at Ocean Edge Resort and Club. This was the place where I learned how to swim, began to enjoy the swimming pool, tried golf, played tennis, basketball and much more. I remember loving the two weeks we would spend down there at OE. My mom would take the full two weeks off of work. Both my parents worked all 12 months, so it was exciting to get time with them and spend time together as a family. I remember having access to cable and watching as much MTV as I possibly could while there. I heard new music and began developing new tastes and recording audio off the television onto cassettes. One year, my brother and I set up a lemonade stand for the golfers, as the condominiums were set along a golf course. We sold a few glasses, but drank most of it ourselves. Speaking of golf, we found this great mini-golf place, called Pirate’s Cove. It is still there today and it is still the best course on Cape Cod. I remember my brother and I laying in front of the the pirates’ fake graves and feigning dead. As for other sports, Mark and I would sneak onto the tennis courts at night once the pro closed shop. As a family, we would play down on the hidden courts behind lots of trees and the 9th hole. No one knew who was on the courts, so we hopped on those for some good family racquet time. The other game du jour of one or more of the years we visited OE was tether ball. I wasn’t much for it, because the ball and rope whipped around near my head. Mark would play endless games of tether ball at the pool. And when I say endless, he wouldn’t leave the pole until he won. One night he was quite sunstroke from playing (in a black T-Shirt no less) and was up most of the night with hallucinations, headaches and probably more, but everyone else didn’t want to scare me with the details. Eventually, this tetherball obsession inspired the installment of a tetherball pole at our original homestead in Pembroke. I wonder if it is still there? While Mark played, Mom and Dad rested, I would moon over the lifeguards, hoping that the cute one, of that given year, was at the pool, watching over the swimmers. I still crave the chilled Milky Way Bars they sold at the snack bar. I still love reading and writing, by the pool or ocean, when not swimming. I am extraordinarily grateful to our Armenian friends (whom, I’m sure, my mother found by happy accident in the newspaper) for giving us so many great summer memories.

During the weekends, when not at Camp Derby, we would head to Duxbury beach. We would pack up the car with large coolers, blankets, rack-it-back (paddle ball), pinky balls, buckets, pails, and chairs. We would meet family friends down there or find them as we pulled onto the beach. Everyone spent most of the day, almost until dinner. Then we, and anyone who wanted to join us, would head back to our house to have soup and hot dogs. Soup and hot dogs are still a strong family tradition today. The most exciting part for me was always driving on Powder Point Avenue, as we approached the beach, and I would yell, “There’s the hole to the beach.” The trees formed a canopy that formed a circle when you looked at it from a distance. Driving over the majestic bridge and onto the beach road excited me so very much, even, allegedly, as a baby. In the back of the Jeep Wrangler, I used to get quite animated. Once there my Dad was great at creating all sorts of games. He would use the pinky ball to create divets in the sand and then smooth the sand in front of it. Like a bowling lane, we rolled the pinky ball up and hoped it landed into the one of the holes. Another game, involved creating a mountain of sand, patting down the sides, and then taking the pinky ball and creating a curved path all the way around and down the mountain. Then we would insert the ball at the top and hope it would roll along the path, around and around. I especially, liked these games, but I also liked the paddle ball, which I played with everyone. Everyone played tennis so it was natural that we would all dig this game. Another important element of my summer self was developed on Duxbury beach and that was a love for food, especially fruit. Food always seems to taste so much better by the water. Everything is better by the water, but as a reluctant eater, I always seemed hungry and more relaxed by the ocean. Cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon are still favorites.

Later, as I grew older, I cherished time with Dad driving along the beach road all the way to Saquish on a Sunday. Dad and I also rented kayaks one year and took them out on the bay. It was lots of fun. When everything is tough, both my parents know that I need to go to the beach to re-establish my bearings.

I have such strong nostalgia when brought back to these places today. They are places that ground me. For the longest time, I wanted to live on Cape Cod. I secretly still do, but my job is in Boston and I love my condo too much to give it up. As recently as 2003 and 1999, I had written in journals that I wanted to live there, so that feeling continued to stay with me. I feel like myself on ‘olde Cape Cod.’ My parents feel the same way, especially my Mom. She recognizes that there is something relaxing about just driving over that Sagamore Bridge. As we drive over, we think about the past and great times we had and will have. We leave our troubles behind and let go, to just be.

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