Tag Archives: summer

How Did I Ever Survive My Childhood?

I didn’t wear knee pads or a helmet when I rode my bicycle. Mom gave me aspirin for a fever. My parents didn’t have my Halloween haul X-rayed either.

Despite all that, you know what really makes me wonder how I survived my childhood? It’s the fact that we didn’t have air conditioning in my house when I was a wee lad. I didn’t sit in a classroom with AC till I was in 9th grade. This is Florida I’m talking about here, folks. Even pre-global warming it was HOT. I still remember my parents, my brother, and me sleeping in the south room of our house in the summertime with a big shop fan running and nothing but white cotton sheets on the beds and cots.

I remember one day my dad installed a window rattler (AC) in the back bedroom (mine and my brother’s room) window. My older brother had a difficult time with childhood asthma back then. I believe that my father installed this unit in our room to help my brother. It was so nice, though, that everyone again ended up sleeping in the room together; this time with quilts on the beds and cots. It was NICE!

Today was hot and muggy here in the Tampa Bay area. There was a weak cool front moving in, but ahead of it were storms, warmth, and heavy humidity. It was nasty. At about 6PM, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to crank up my ACs. In about an hour, it was nice and cool in here. I’m such a wuss. Back in the old days, I would have sat here sweating while a fan blew all that hot humid air around the room.

Thank you Mr. Carrier. That’s all I have to say. You made the world a much cooler place to live and work in. I can’t even imagine what office buildings and hospitals used to be like before AC. It must have been miserable. I got a small taste of it growing up without AC at home or in school, but I’m sure it was even worse for office or factory workers. Maybe we were hardier folks back then. Young folks nowadays tend to be wussies. They can’t live without their zippy little foreign cars or their iStuff or their cell phones, not to mention their social networking sites.

HA! When I was a kid, social networking meant going over and sitting on the neighbor’s porch for some coffee or tea, a smoke, and some decent conversation. Remember that? Talking, it was called. You actually spoke to someone and they listened and then responded. It was pretty cool. You usually spoke in complete sentences, too. And the world moved on…

Which was probably a good thing. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had all that cool progress and new technologies, like AC. I’d be miserable trying to sleep tonight if I didn’t have my ACs running. They are running, though. It’s COOL in here. I’ll be sleeping like a comatose tree sloth. I guess that progress stuff ain’t all bad, huh?

I’m off to bed…


My First Car… 1977

It was the hot summer of 1977. I was 15 years old and dreaming of hot rods, motorcycles, and girls… probably in that order, too.

I was in between 10th and 11th grades that summer. I was sporting a cool set of “Elvis” sideburns and had a tape box filled with the latest and greatest Rock and Roll 8-track tapes. All I needed was some wheels. No. Not a bicycle. I needed some big boy wheels… a car, a motorcycle… something with a motor. I dreamed about a ’57 Chevy or a cool Harley-Davidson raked out chopper, like Cap’n America’s bike in the movie Easy Rider.

That was also the summer that my mom and dad let me know that I was going to be getting my very first (official) car in September, once I passed my operator’s license test. I only had a restricted license up till then. My mother was in a hurry for me to get my license and car because, as she said then, “I’m tired of carting your ass around.” Mom was a plain-spoken country girl from Avon Park, Florida. She usually told you like it was; no BS from momma.

I say “official” because my first “unofficial” car was actually a 1963 Pontiac Catalina Safari station wagon real similar to THIS tank. It was originally our family car, but my dad sold it to his and mom’s business a few years earlier. It was recently retired and sitting in my yard. I adopted it. I started working on it and tinkering with it till one day when my father asked me what I was doing. He and I had a bit of a round and round over that car. He was for selling it. I was for keeping it. He won the debate. That was the end of my hot rod station wagon dreams.

So anyway, September rolled on by. I passed my operator’s license exam. And within a couple days, was driving my first “official” car, a hand-me-down (from mom) 1969 Plymouth Valiant. It was just like the one pictured here, but mine was monkey puke green. OK, it wasn’t no cool hot rod. It had a six cylinder; not a speed demon. However, I actually wish I had that car nowadays. That 225CI slant six Mopar engine was one of the best plants to ever come out of Detroit. It got 35mpg on a bad day. I installed some coax speakers in the back deck and a hand-me-down 8-track tape player and off I went… a 16 year old with the world in the palm of his hand.

I didn’t drive that ol’ girl for that long. I was into a real hot rod shortly thereafter. The Valiant was given to my uncle Aaron, my mother’s brother. He drove it for about  a month till some idiot turned left in front of him one day. The ol’ girl was totaled. Uncle Aaron was alright, though… just car-less again. A sad ending for such a great little car. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Till next time, folks…

~Elvis, er… I mean Eric

Dreaming of Simpler Times

The oak trees in the neighborhood have been spending their days generating pollen profusely the last few weeks.

It looks like they’re nearly finished with their springtime ritual. My oaks, all eight of them, are beautiful and fully loaded with fresh green leaves. The yard still has tumblin’ tumblepiles of pollen dingleberries blowing around. That will be gone after a few more good rains and some stiff breezes, though. In the meantime, the poor folks who are allergic to this stuff are still rubbin’, scratchin, sneezin’ and wheezin’.

I love this time of year in my area. It’s not quite hot enough yet to be considered uncomfortable and everything is GREEN and coming to life again after the long, dark wintertime (very facetious comment regarding “winter” in Florida). Anyway, looking out the window earlier today at the old oak tree out in my front yard, reminded me of a story I wrote about that tree a few years ago. I hope you enjoy reading it. Maybe it’ll bring back some fond memories of home for you also.

The Oak Tree^

There’s a big old oak tree out in my front yard that’s probably almost 100 years old. It was there when my father bought this property and started building this house. That was in 1953 or so. The tree was old then. It was probably a sapling when Coolidge was President. Of course, at that time the tree had many brothers and sisters around to keep it company because this whole area was woods back then.

Please read the rest of my story at my Cabin In the Woods board. By the way, below is a relatively recent picture of the old oak tree.

*click for larger image

Until next time, folks…


^The Oak Tree is protected by copyright.

Fresh Cut Grass, the Buzz of Bees, and Baseball!

It must be getting close to summertime!

I don’t like the hot, humid Florida summers these days as much as I did when I was a kid. Of course, I loved summertime back then because it meant a temporary release from Stalag Luftschool 13 and the care of Sister Mary Himmler of Our Blessed Ladies of the Gestapo.

Another thing that always meant summertime for me was baseball. I remember following my favorite teams; the Baltimore Orioles with legendary players like Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, and Davey Johnson. Or the Pittsburgh Pirates, with future Hall-of-Famers Willy Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Ah… the memories.

Back then in Tampa, just a few blocks from my house, was a baseball park called Al Lopez Field. It was named for Hall of Fame player Al Lopez, a Tampa native. It was also the home field for the Cincinnati Reds during their Spring Training exhibition schedule. The Reds training facility was just three blocks from my house. It was called Redsland. Currently, that same training facility is used by the NY Yankees.

When I was a wee tot, my dad used to take me to Al Lopez field to watch the pro exhibition games, or more often the Tampa Tarpons (Florida Grapefruit League) games. I think that’s where I really developed my love for live baseball. To this day, I love the smells of the park… the fresh cut grass, the food smells, even the stale beer smell. It all brings back those memories of going to the park with my dad when I was a kid. My older brother took me a few times, too.

Speaking of my older brother, he actually played professional ball for a while with the KC Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cool, huh? He never got a shot in the Big League, but he played well in the minors. I was looking at a site the other day with his stats from back then. They were pretty impressive. I think the reality of family life and the need for a higher paying career ended his baseball playing days.

Here’s a picture of ol’ Al Lopez Field. It was torn down years ago to make room for Raymond James Stadium (Home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). These days I follow the Tampa Bay Rays. I was listening to their opening game on the radio when I first started to write this article. They WON! Rays 4 – Orioles 3.

Baseball season has started. That means the long, hot summer is ahead of us. All things are possible. Take a deep breath. Smell that fresh cut grass. Ahhh…

Play ball!