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Featured Article

In The Summer Time

By: vkimo

In my mind only one word can truly capture the wonder, freedom, excitement and dreams of youth. That word is Summer. So please fasten your safety restraints, make sure your tray table is in the upright position and hold onto your butts.

The transition is sublime. All it takes is one second, one nano blink in time and your world changes. The bell ringing on the last day of school alters our existence.  It's like your life was a huge chalkboard full of events, tasks and homework but all of a sudden someone came with a bucket of water and hurled it at the board, and you were free.

Eager to forget the civilized world of learning, I would rush home and shove my backpack into the deepest recesses of my closet where I would not touch it again for almost 3 months! To be honest though, I was one of those kids who was bored out of my mind come the second week of break. However I did have a lot I wanted to do and look forward to.

Ah yes, I remember this themed BBQ. Wear your girlfriend's shorts

My brother and I enjoying some sibling bonding. That's not us though, we were inside playing NES.

Awwww yeahhhh! BBQ's are a staple of Summer. My dad loved to BBQ but he was a serious liability behind the grill. He would always load up the pit with charcoal (My brother and I would steal a brisket to draw on the ground with) and cause the whole backyard to smoke over.

Once things were under control though we loaded up the grill with all sorts of savory meats. I'm talking kabobs loaded with strips of steak, bell peppers, shrimp and mushrooms. Corn cooked in the husk dribbling with butter and ribs served piping hot. Sometimes we would have a family picnic at McNears beach which was located in a national park. It had a pool and golf course and at the time, a small arcade and snack stand. Some of my fondest days were running around with my cousins playing soccer there on the large grass area. My sister would bring her signature potato salad and my aunt would bring her infamous guacamole dip no one dared to eat. There's few things in life as satisfying as corn stuck in your teeth and mesquite sauce stains on your shirt.

Let me apologize now for the hunger pang you just experienced.

    If that doesn't get the girl I don't know what will

Heat was a major enemy of mine as a kid. Where I grew up in California it regularly heated up to around 85 degrees in the Summer months. One good thing though was that water based activities were finally open to us. My dad would get the hose and fill up a plastic kiddy pool. The water was frigid so he did it in the morning and by afternoon the water was heated to to a bearable temperature. My brother and the neighborhood kids would then get all of our aquatic munitions and meet for a liquid battle royale. The arsenal consisted of Larami Super Soakers, water balloons, splash balls, you name it. Then we would go at it. My one friend had a gigantic Super Soaker CPS 2000. This thing was ridiculous. When fully loaded with water a kid could barely walk with it. It shot water out like a fire hose but it's capacity would drain quickly, allowing me to go in for the kill with my trusty XP 100.

Going to the swimming pool was also a great treat. I could barely swim so I pretty much stayed in the shallows or floating around on goofy pool toys. I'd be in the water so long my feet would prune up and the skin would peel off on my toes. Not fun. I enjoyed playing Marco Polo and we had a pool torpedo we would use to launch at unsuspecting kidneys. We had breath holding contests that would leave us all dizzy and splash competitions as well. Pools and Summer go together like Cheetos and Seinfeld.

Water parks are great because they're the one place where having to use the bathroom won't interrupt the fun

On a few rare occasions we lucked out and went to Raging Waters. They had slides that seemed never ending that I tried to avoid as being a novice swimmer I didn't enjoy sliding at breakneck speeds through a small tube. There was this great wave area though, everyone sat there and at the far end of the pool a big wave would come and you could ride it in your floating tube. It was so crowded though it was like a wave of human flesh. I loved water parks as a kid but would probably never go back to one.

One staple of Summer was camping. We did the tent thing a few times but with all the hassle and bugs my family made the move to KOA. KOA is basically a few acres of excavated land, 1 room log cabins, an artificial pond (Stocked with trout) and a recreation building. The cabins don't have a kitchen but do have a few outlets. There's water via a spigot outside and community bathrooms. Looking back through the eyes of an adult I can't really see the appeal or point for that matter. But I sure went nuts there as a kid. We'd bring our bikes and ride around the campground, visit the arcade and billiards room which was always a blast. They had a Mortal Kombat machine which was always in use. There was even a Karaoke competition! My dad would fish the pond and bring back trout which made it feel like we were really out in the wild. 

We did a lot of cool stuff but obviously the vast majority of Summer was spent indoors. I remember one summer mindlessly watching MTV music videos which messed with my head because I think they were heavy metal. My brother and I would routinely dump out all our toys and just have an action figure lollapalooza. During the day we might join up with the neighborhood kids and ride bikes or play hide and seek. At nights it was mostly watching Home Improvement and Married with Children reruns. Sadly I never went to any kind of summer camp. So I had to rely on shows like Salute Your Shorts or oddly enough movies like Friday The 13th.

Summer isn't always all pool fun and hot dogs though. Heatwaves. It regularly hit in the 90s and even 100s during the most intense parts of Summer. Our house at the time was built in the 1930s and I guess AC was still only a formula on a chalkboard because we had none. To make matters worse my brother and I had our room on the second floor. You could actually feel the temperature jump 10 degrees walking the stairs. The coolest spot in the house was the bathroom which was usually occupied by our obese cat sprawled over the cool tiles. My parents finally got a small window AC unit for their room. So on the most brutally warm nights I could sleep on a mat in my folks room. It was bliss. The constant thrum of the AC unit and the pulsating waves of cool air made for some of the best sleep of my life.

Unfortunately like all good things, Summers always seemed to go too quickly. It feels like the calendar Summer now is shorter than ever. Some kids are starting school back up mid August, when I remember going back in early September! As an adult Summer has lost it's wild sense of freedom and enjoyment. I still enjoy the weather but it's not like work lets their employees out for a 3 month holiday! I still get a little giddy though when the fireworks stands start popping up and I still feel mildly depressed when the back to school ads start rolling in. Summer will always have a special spot in my heart. If I close my eyes real tight and count 10 Mississippi I can start to smell Dad roasting steak on the grill and hear my mom yelling for us to come in...

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vkimo Posted on Jun 16, 2014 at 08:12 PM

You said it. They're not even by Larami anymore. I have one from 1990 and it still works like a charm.

shakin steak Posted on Jun 16, 2014 at 05:42 PM

Oh man. I'm looking for Super Soakers on eBay now. The new ones are ugly!

vkimo Posted on Jun 11, 2014 at 04:34 PM

My whole issue with water gun fights is that at a certain point you're soaked and the game seems to loose it's appeal quickly. Unless like us you shot at grown ups haha.

Fulton4V Posted on Jun 10, 2014 at 06:01 PM

We used to have wild water soaker wars in my neighbourhood. And also we would set up parts of our yards as bases and we would say that you were safe if you reached a base and could not be sprayed. We would do that for many hours.

echidna64 Posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 02:29 PM

Great article vkimo! I love your graphical prowess, especially the title card. My favorite part was your experiences camping, it brought back a lot of childhood memories. We used to go to a campground called Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. And I loved the "your girlfriend's shorts" line too! lol Thanks for the trip back in time!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 06, 2014 at 02:20 PM

I will admit, I could not wait until you had finished this piece to read some of it, so I used my webmaster mojo to dig it up and read some of it while in draft form. LOL. Pardon my impatience.

Such a great article. And a fun and poignant reflection of what summer was like in the vkimo house. From the bbq on the grill, to the chlorine filled pools... I can almost smell the memories.

This cracked me up every time: "Ah yes, I remember this themed BBQ. Wear your girlfriend's shorts".

I also never went to any summer camp. However, as I have previously mentioned elsewhere, I did attend two summers worth of college preparatory programs on the campus of OU. Those are summers I'll never forget. It was a taste of the freedom of college come years early. And I made friendships that, though they did not last, will be forever etched within my mind.

Thanks for this vkimo!

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