Monday, July 10, 2017

A Summer Memory

A Summer Memory
                                               By Valerie L. Egar

            During the summer that I was nine or ten, my sister Nadine and I were always looking for something to do. Certainly, we enjoyed days jumping waves at the beach and others wading in a stream near our home.  We played baseball games with neighborhood kids, with trees designated as bases. Catching fireflies and putting them in a jar with holes in the lid so they could breathe occupied more than a few evenings.
At some point that summer, our world expanded and we were allowed to walk beyond our mother’s mighty call. (There were no cell phones then and most Moms stood on the front step and shouted names and sometimes a short message, like “Supper!” or “Bath time!” when they wanted their children to stop playing and come home.) Our neighborhood was small— a quarter mile street with four short side streets, but no explorer ever felt more adventurous than Nadine and I as we walked past the first curve and lost sight of our house.
We weren’t aimlessly roaming. I collected postcards and wanted to expand my collection, so we decided to canvass the neighborhood. Nadine, younger by a year and ever generous, was happy to pester the neighbors with me.
 “Hello, do you have any used postcards?” I would ask when the door opened to our knock. I was certain no one would part with new ones they could use. Unless someone had just received a card from a vacationing relative, most people didn’t. We never got back home with more than two or three for an afternoon’s work.
The sparse results never deterred us— most of the fun was being on our own and so every week, we made the rounds, knocking on doors, asking the same question. We quickly learned which houses yielded results and which to avoid. 
We skipped Brittany Avenue after the first week.  A woman who cackled like a witch and yelled for us to “get off her street” put us in fear of flying monkeys like the ones we saw on “The Wizard of Oz.” No use taking chances— we stayed away.
A nice woman on Reynolds Street started putting post cards aside to give us, but we noticed the messages on each were always erased with a chemical formula called “Ink Eradicator” that secretaries used to correct mistakes.  Nadine and I giggled. “She thinks we’re spies!”
One man questioned us about why we wanted them.
“I collect them.”
“What do you do with them?”
“I look at the pictures. “ I didn’t tell him that I longed to visit the places in the pictures and imagined myself there.
We always saved the best house for last. Aunt Emma lived in a small bungalow with a screened in porch. She reminded me of the pictures I saw of Victorian ladies— steely grey hair pulled back into a knot, a dark dress with long sleeves even on warm days— but she wasn’t stuffy. She always welcomed us warmly.
Her windows glittered with displays of colored glass— cobalt blue vases, tiny red pitchers, amber plates and she had a china cabinet brimming with curiosities, including seashells we had never seen at the shore. Best of all, Aunt Emma had an old-fashioned porch swing. It hung from the ceiling on her porch with springs that gave it a little bounce as it moved. Nadine and I fit on it perfectly and we weren’t in the house for a minute when we were settled into the swing, gliding back and forth, amazed that something that was so much fun was inside a house.
Aunt Emma bustled to her kitchen and brought us home-made lemonade in beautiful thin glasses decorated with flowers. They were elegant, so we tried to act elegant. Then, Aunt Emma disappeared again. In a few minutes, she reappeared with jewelry for Nadine and me that she'd fished from her jewelry box, a rhinestone pin or a bangle bracelet, something to enjoy when we played dress-up.
In the neighborhood, she was the only one who asked us to come back again soon.

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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not  be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published July 9, 2017  Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE reading your Snickertales and enjoyed this one. I asked this can I find the REST of these stories?

    Susan Moran :-)