The Detective’s Daughter

Kim in Baltimore protecting my eyes from the eclipse.

Nat King Cole sang about those lazy, hazy days of summer as Nana cooked in the kitchen. I could hear the music as I played in the yard. The windows were wide open despite the muggy heat of a Baltimore summer and the fact that Nana had a brand new air conditioner. She refused to turn it on no matter how hot the temperature.

I lounged in a tiny pool that Pop-Pop used a bicycle pump to inflate. Nana had put several throw rugs and an old comforter to protect the bottom of the pool and to cushion my feet from the hot cement.

Sometimes my friend Valerie from down the street would come over to sit in the cool water with me, but most often it was my dog Rikki who kept me company. He stayed in the shade under our picnic table watching over me as Pop-Pop sat dozing in his lawn chair with a transistor radio to his ear listening to the Oriole game.

This is how I remember the summer days of my youth. Baseball games, steamed crabs on Sundays, snowballs at night. I can close my eyes and conjure up the smell of Nana’s rose garden after an afternoon storm and hear the whistle of the trains passing the house and smell the tar of the street that was too hot to walk across in bare feet.

I tried to recreate those summers for my own children; the freezer stocked with juice pops, a wading pool in the yard, a gentle dog to keep watch. I have an air conditioner in the window I rarely use. When we first moved to the house we only had a few fans. In the morning I’d strip the beds and load all our sheets in the freezer for the day. At bedtime we’d grab them out and run as if the devil chased us up the stairs, throwing ourselves onto the sheets not even bothering to smooth them out or tuck them in. We just wanted to enjoy those few moments on the icy bed.

The coolness of the sheets was as brief as those summers that we remember not so much for the warmth of the days, but the happiness of being together.

Readers: What are your favorite childhood summer memories?



29 Thoughts

  1. Since I grew up on a farm, mine are a little different than yours, Kim. The smell of freshly cut hay and riding on the wagons as we brought the bales in. Wading in the creek. And in the evening, Dad taking us to town for a cone or a milkshake at the Tastee Freez.

    1. Annette, your summers were different from mine except, it seems, whether you are a city mouse or a country mouse every mouse gets a frozen treat at night. My dad bought us snowballs.

  2. My favorite childhood memories are double dutch jumping from morning until nighttime with my sister and neighbourhood friends, hopscotch, roller skating and Mr. Softee, the ice cream truck that stopped by daily and sent us running frantically to our parents or grandparents asking for money. They were great times.

  3. When I was young, I went to a day camp with a lot of my school friends, and then my family rented a place at the Jersey Shore in August. Plenty of memories! At the shore house, we could always hear the ice cream truck approaching, and there were also passing trucks billowing clouds of DDT to fight the mosquitoes (bet they don’t do that any more!).

    1. Sheila, you know I’d never even heard of summer day camps until I taught school. We spent many summer weeks in Atlantic City. I loved it there. My Pop-Pop would take me to the Steel Pier to see Lady Godiva on her horse. I don’t remember trucks spraying for mosquitoes, but they could have been there. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen much anymore.

  4. Summer meant weekends at the beach! Playing outside after we moved to the country, hot windy days when the sugar cane got high and all you could hear was the swishing. Also, because my mother worked, I remember long afternoons of reading and watching TV and listening to the daily dose of how my brothers would kill each other. Good times!

    1. We still love the beach, don’t we!!! I only had a sister, but I always wanted a brother. We were allowed to watch television after our bath. Mom would put us in our baby doll pajamas and braid our hair. Then we would sit out in our lawn chairs and watch the television Dad had put out on the top step. I really loved that. Today’s my Dad’s birthday, too.

  5. I love your memories, Kim. The steamed crabs on Sunday mark it as true Maryland, but everything else sounds familiar. I still love the sounds of a baseball game on the radio on a summer night.

    1. Yes, we sure love our steamed crabs down here in Baltimore. The next morning, on Monday, Nana would make crab soup, but not if it was storming. Thunder and lightening spoils the soup.

  6. Before I was four years old, we lived in base housing that was surrounded by a eucalyptus grove. I used to wonder around the sun-dappled woods, waiting for my real parents, who were leprechauns to come find me. Still waiting.

    1. That is so sweet! Why leprechauns? I spent some time looking for my “real” mother after I saw a photo of my dad dressed up with another woman. Turned out it was his prom photo!

  7. Lovely memories, Kim. I remember sitting outside with a homemade chocolate milkshake in a frosty tin mug reading in the shade. Picking white and yellow peaches ripe from the tree, apricots and plums, too, and eating them, then washing off the juice with a hop in the blow-up pool, only a little bigger than yours. Riding my bike all over the neighborhood. And camping with my family ever summer in the Sierras for two weeks. Great times.

    1. That does sound like a lovely summer! We would o to Auntie’s who lived in the country. She had blueberries and weouldpick them and eat them. One time Ai picked so many I threw up in the middle of he night and she made y dad Coke ick me up. I must have beenthirty before I ever ate another blueberry!

  8. I always think about how hot it was during Iowa summers. One of the things I like about living in Northern Virginia is the similarities to Iowa — the drone of locusts, lightening bugs, and swimming pools.

  9. Summertime! For me, living in rural Pennsylvania just south of Gettysburg, it evokes memories of canning fruit in the morning (cherries and peaches), then off to somewhere to swim in the afternoon. Over the years, we swam in Tom’s Creek (requiring a hike of about half a mile across fields of corn, hauling towels, the smaller children, snacks, and something to drink), Fuller Dam (about a five mile from the house), Mount St. Mary’s College pool (the pool had been built in World War II, when the campus was used as a military training center, to teach recruits to swim – a quintessential cement pond), and other bodies of water. After four or five hours swimming, lounging, and reading, we returned home, had dinner, and then often played volleyball (large enough family that we could field two teams and someone to officiate). And then lying in the grass, looking at the stars, or catching fireflies.

  10. Homemade raspberry ade and raspberry pops from the berries in the garden. Taking long walks and getting soaked in a sudden rainfall and loving the coolness of it and how comfortable it felt putting on some clean dry clothes after. The white and green glider to sit under the big tree and read. The coolness of the evening when the sun finally was setting. Following the shade in the yard throughout the day to stay cool but to still be outside with friends.

    1. Everyone needs a Linder, don’t hey? It was one of the first things we bought wen we over to our house. I used to love sitting out there when he children were babies an rocking themto sleep.

  11. The absolute freedom to go as far as I could walk or ride my bike. Exploring the neighborhood(s) as I grew up, discovering “secret” streams complete with a zillion mosquitoes, somersaulting down the neighbor’s hill, climbing on anything climbable. Since both my parents worked, I had a lot of free time. I didn’t see it as being deprived or neglected (which I wasn’t), but rather as an opportunity to discover the world around me. It’s sad it is no longer possible for most kids to have that kind of freedom.

  12. I’ve never tried frozen sheets. Not sure how I’d feel about that since I get cold so easily. 🙂

    Frozen juice pops. Wadding pools. Lazy summer days. Sound wonderful right about now. Thanks for making me smile.

  13. My Grandmother Forbes picked me up in Salem the day after school got out for the summer. We’d drive up to Mousam Lake in Maine (Shapleigh) where she rented a cottage for the whole summer. We were right on the lake, so I was in the water most of every day. I still love the smell of wood stoves, pine needles, the sound of rain on tin roof,. There was a little store within easy walking distance where we picked up our mail and bought ice cream cones. I had a whole set of “summer friends” who spent every summer there too; My Grandmother drove me home (with new clothes for school from a shop in Sanford) the day before school started. Wonderful memories. The cabin is still there. The owner let me go inside a couple of years ago and my bureau us still there, as is my penciled name on one of the beams in the bedroom ceiling!

Comments are closed.