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Seeing summer through a child’s eyes

POSTED: July 6, 2014 1:00 a.m.
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HARRIS' RECENT COLUMNS

Summer is the season that gives us so many good memories, especially from our childhood.

There were annual events such as summer revivals and vacation Bible school.

We used to print posters with the picture of the revival preacher. Usually, he was holding a big Bible and pointing directly at the camera, as if to say, “You better listen to me.”

We didn’t have prepackaged, homogenized Bible school, either.

Today, they come with spaceships and cowboys and detective sets. I just can’t grasp the whole notion of finding Jesus in outer space, out on the range or lurking in the shadows.

I remember lots of Kool-Aid and little butter cookies with a hole in the middle. A contest was held among the boys to see who could take the most bites off of a cookie without it falling off your finger.

Swimming happened in the summer. When we were kids, Uncle Harry had a pool. I learned to swim there with my cousin, Bill. We spent many an hour at the pool and I thought it was wonderful.

One of our other swimming options was the pool at the Alamo Plaza Motel on Stewart Avenue. My mama or daddy knew somebody there and we went there several times.

The Alamo later became a major center for the world’s oldest profession and drug dealing. Stewart Avenue was so bad they changed the name to Metropolitan Parkway. I remember the Alamo, when it was good.

One of the great things on Stewart Avenue was Funtown. It was a wonderful amusement park. Unfortunately, the opening of Six Flags led to its demise.

My cousin, Mike, and his wife, Marsha, took Bill and me to Six Flags on the first day it opened. Bill and I went back many times. One year, we had season passes and rode the Dahlonega Mine Train about 75 times in a single day.

That was about 40 years ago and I still treasure those memories.

There were other summer things such as riding go-carts and trying all sorts of tricks to make our bicycles go faster. We were convinced oil, grease and just the right amount of air made them better.

And, oh, if someone got a new appliance, it meant we got a new fort. We could play with a box until it was in tatters. When it was no longer usable as a fort, it became a target for BB guns.

When I was 11, I went to 4-H camp at Rock Eagle. I met the cutest little girl from somewhere else. We slow danced to a song by a new group called “The Carpenters.” She wrote down her address, but I lost it. It’s still a good memory.

I remember waking up one morning and the cartoons we normally watched were not on. A senator named Robert Kennedy was shot and later died. He had kids my age and I remember feeling sad for them.

The next summer, I remember staying up late one night to watch a man named Armstrong take the first steps on the moon.

I keep those memories in my mind. It feels good to get them out and dust them off every now and then, especially in the summer.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

 

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