In the kitchen of my childhood the musical accompaniment to the morning routine was provided by a shoebox sized plastic radio tuned to a local AM station. We ate breakfast while listening to the morning DJ banter and the ads and jingles of local merchants, then we headed outside for the day. Long lazy summers were spent roaming the neighborhood with our friends. We built dams and caught guppies and frogs in the creek at the bottom of the hill. We explored the storm drains, sometimes crawling through the pipes for blocks to find an opening that we could squeeze out of (Kids don't try this at home, you could die.) We played kick the can in the circle at the end of the street until dusk when the street lights came on and our mothers finally called us home for the day.
My brother Leigh and I attended summer Catechism (Vacation Bible School for Catholics) with our friends Patty and Cathy Olson, but only on the first day to register and the last day to get the ice cream. Every morning for two weeks our mother would drop us in front of the church and return four hours later to pick us up. We left as soon as her car turned the corner and came back just before pick up time. She never asked us why we hadn’t colored any pictures of saints or made crucifixes out of popscicle sticks during our time at Catechism. Clever little hoodlums that we were, we could have sung a hymn in Latin or recited memorized paragraphs from the Baltimore Catechism, but she never asked.
Before we had a pool in our backyard, we swam at the Paxton public pool when we could get our parents to drive us there. (It was California, no one walked anywhere and buses were unheard of.) Once a week we went to the library to load up on books. We were free and unsupervised all day. Long, hot summer days spent in shorts and t-shirts. If we wore shoes they were thongs (the plastic footwear not the invasive undergarment).
In late August we started hearing a new jingle on the morning radio. This link is to a Robert Hall ad in the 50’s or 60’s. You have to listen through the first jingle to get to the back to school song.
School bells ring and children sing
it’s back to Robert Hall again
Mother knows for better clothes
It’s back to Robert Hall again
You’ll save more on clothes for school.
Shop at Robert Hall
…and we knew our summer fun was about over.
Decades after my schooling ended, I’m still disappointed when I see the back to school ads on TV. I love summer. Even though I am retired and no longer have to go back to school, that jingle is running around my head and I am not looking forward to short days and cold wind, even though it is still in the 90’s here. I haven’t floated enough in aqua waters, or eaten enough grilled hamburgers, or had the warm wind caress me as I ride my bike. If I lived in Hawaii would I miss the crisp fall mornings? Nope, I’m an endless summer girl and I’m never going back to school.
…although, I do still enjoy a good back to school sale.