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My nine year-old daughter slept in today, no let me back up…she actually stayed up late last night, really late.

Why?

Friday was her last day of school and today starts her summer vacation. (It’s also the start of overtime for my parental duties).

Do you recall the last day of school at Holy Name and the start of summer vacation? (I think the teachers looked forward to it more than we did)

Alice Cooper sang about it,

School’s out for summer, yea
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books, yea
No more teacher’s dirty looks

I use to love throwing my notebooks, pencils and pens in the trash.  Today, my daughter brings all that stuff home and we save it.

Remember that infamous sign, ‘School’s Out, Drive Carefully’? What, drivers didn’t have to be careful during the school year?

I loved summer vacation as a youngster, I’m sure like every other kid in the neighborhood.  The last day of school was unreal! I couldn’t wait to get out.   Each year while attending Holy Name, I always got up extra early on the morning of the last day of school.

Amongst many things I did during the summer was travel up to Greenwood Lake, New York with my family.  We would pack up our suitcases and take two trains over to Port Authority where we’d catch the bus.

Port Authority was scary.  Pimps, whores and drug addicts, not to mention the homeless and the filth.

Now I know why my mother always had me hold her hand while we navigated our way up staircases and escalators to the ticket window and then to the terminal.

After what turned into a three hour trip,  sometimes longer – we’d finally arrive where the grass seemed greener, the air wasn’t polluted and I was in the company of my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in a year.

My cousins had a huge house including a huge built-in swimming pool, acres and acres of woods behind the house and a huge lawn where we often played whiffle ball.  At times I was jealous and envious of where they lived but after giving it more thought, I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else except for Windsor Terrace.

During the hot, muggy days in the summer we’d also open the Johnny pump (do people still call it that?) Remember grabbing a can out of the garbage and scrapping it against the curb so you could open a hole at the opposite end? Only the strongest could hold it up against the gushing water to give it the ‘spray’ effect.

We’d spend time in the schoolyard (Holy Name, PS 154, PS 10’s and of course PS 107.) playing basketball, whiffle ball, slap ball and football.   We played baseball in the lot and if we were lucky, someone would have an extra ticket or two for the Mets or Yankees.  (Jimmy Cullen’s aunt always got tickets from her boss to Yankee home games)

Prospect Park at night, hanging out on the avenue later into the night and of course train rides into the city.

The basketball summer league at night in the boys schoolyard was a highlight.  You’d park your ass under the basket closest to Howard Place and take in the action.  You’d make a run to Bonalli’s if you had any coin.

How about Henry’s Ice Tea’s during the day to quench your thirst after playing ball all day? Again, if you had coin.

Often times you’d step out of the neighborhood and visit Coney Island, Manhattan Beach and Brighton during the day.  We played basketball with strangers, hung out on the beach and picked up a knish or two before heading back.

I also was lucky enough to have made a few trips down to Breezy Point, Riis Beach, and a couple of times I’d head out to Long Island and take in the sights at Jones Beach.  A place I always wanted to visit but never had the chance was Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

Day Camps and sleep-away camps are pretty popular these days.  It seems like you have camps for everything!  Band, writing, all kinds of sports and even cooking.  But I only recall attending one – it was the summer between 6th and 7th grade.  It was called ‘Pythian Camp’.  I didn’t know it until I arrived but it was a camp for Jewish boys.  We did it all.  Arts and Crafts, sports, and we even fished!

I had a great time!

Bathing suits, riding bikes, walking, the sun, warm weather,  portable air conditioners, beachballs, block parties and sunburn…

Was gas $4.25 a gallon back in the day?

How about the nights after you spent all day at the beach…if you had fair skin like me, you were burnt to a crisp from the sun.  My mother would apply noxema all over my body.  I would stand still for an hour like a zombie.  Speaking of which, did they have ‘tanning salon’s’ back in our day?

The end of school and the start of summer vacation as a youngster…boy I miss those days!

Have a great summer!

-SF

Hoops135@hotmail.com