The Sounds Of Summer


If you stop for a moment or two and focus on the carefree days of youth when school was finished and there was nothing to do but play all day long, those wonderful sounds of summer may come to mind. I grew up in the city, so my memories may be different from yours; but the following thoughts are meant to take us back to those easier softer times.


The birds chirping in the nearby tree was a great way to wake up – sure beats the jarring ring of the Baby Ben windup clock back then or the more recent buzz of the digital alarm. Even in the city, were tree were in short supply, birds perched themselves on wires or window sills to let us know morning had arrived.

New Seniors, like me, will remember the hucksters making their way up the streets and alleys at different times of the day. The fruit and vegetable purveyors came to my neighborhood several mornings each week while the fish merchants came by with their catch of the day on selected afternoons.

For the most part older kids, those that were allowed to cross the busy streets, went to the park or the playground after breakfast and attending to any required chores, because the summer heat and humidity in my hometown of Philadelphia did not reach the high points until later in the day. The sounds around home were usually young children playing on the sidewalks or in backyards. Other than that mornings were normally quiet.

The crack of the baseball bat was frequently heard anywhere you could play what was then America’s pastime. Have you listened to the sound of a baseball being hit by an aluminum bat, which the kids all use today? It’s more a ping than the crack you get from real wood and certainly not as memorable.

Lawnmowers could be heard most afternoons, because no one seemed to agree on the best day of the week to cut the small plots of grass that were part of city homes. Later on, the bells of the ice cream truck let kids know it was time to ask mom for some change in order to have a treat – a far less annoying sound than the snack trucks of today that play the same tune over and over. Those who bought something usually sat lined up on the curb or on the front steps to eat these fast-melting ice cream novelties.

Everyone was home just before dinner, and we played on the street or sidewalk until mom called us to eat. Then one by one we stopped what we were doing and then reappeared as quickly as possible to pick up where we left off.

Sometimes we went to the playground to watch a twilight baseball game. Otherwise, we stayed in the neighborhood and had fun until the street lights went on. If we weren’t home in five minutes, the dads let us know it was time when they called us by name.

Times were gentle then, and the sounds were part of growing up. We didn’t think much about them in those days, but now it is enjoyable to remember the sounds of summer.

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Don Potter


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