My Summertime Composition


This is the essay no teacher ever assigned.
“What I didn’t do on my summer vacation.”

It hasn’t, after all, been the typical summer. It’s been beastly hot.
That, especially in the case of this out-of-shape middle-aged person, precludes leisurely bike rides after dinner.
So, I haven’t smelled the honeysuckle along the roadside or watched countless homeowners prune, mow and
otherwise manicure their lawns.

It’s also rained a lot.
That means I’ve spent more time than I care to on my lawn, such as it is.
My weeds, I should clarify.
They grow in proverbial fashion, keeping Howard and me up to our kneecaps in them, fighting for time to
mow them down for even a day or two.

We’ve been very busy here at the office.
There were days, I dimly remember, when summer slow time meant early quitting hours and
occasional day trips to nearby places.

This year, I meant to take my daughter Erica to the Statue of Liberty, Ocean City, Maryland, the shopping
outlets around Reading, PA and perhaps on a long weekend to Boston.
We never got to any of the above.

Of course, I remind myself constantly, summer is only half over.
There’s still the rest of July and all of August to go.

Summer never flew by like it does now.
I can remember the dim past, when it seemed like summer boredom would never end.

Being a kid, without transportation except the parent-provided type, is tough in summertime.
In this area, particularly, public transportation is sporadic and doesn’t get one to the most desired of places.

It makes for long days, when all a teenager can do is household chores and endless telephoning.
Too young for an outside job; too old for playing in the park with friends.

In the good old days, summers were for reading.
My library card was dog-eared and my collection of paperbacks grew by leaps and bounds (as my allowance
shrunk) between June and September.
I’ve read a total of two books so far this summer … sandwiched in between bouts of sunning on the beach
and relaxing before bedtime.

Summer used to mean “the lake.”
Growing up in Egg Harbor in the ‘50s meant spending every afternoon there.
We congregated at the water tower on Philadelphia Avenue at 12:30, sitting on our towels on the stone wall
that lined the walk, waiting for the bus.
It was municipally operated, and for a pittance (the exact price escapes me after all these years) we could ride,
round trip, the three miles to Egg Harbor Lake.
It was an ideal recreation site.
We met our friends, bought hot dogs and soda, swam out to the raft for sunning and generally enjoyed being
At four o’clock, we climbed on board the bus again for the return trip.
Occasionally, in those polio-scare days, the lake would close for a few days toward the end of summer
because of lack of rain to cleanse it, but most of the time it was our salvation.
I don’t know how much the operation of that bus cost the city.
I’m sure my parents and countless others were grateful that we had a place to go that didn’t require their
supervision or their time to get us there.

Nowadays, there’s be countless reasons why towns couldn’t provide a bus like that … vandalism, insurance
costs, etc., etc. …
Too bad.
Kids who can’t get to the shore or don’t have the good fortune to have backyard pools would doubtless
benefit from a “lake” experience like the one we enjoyed.

At least they’d have something to write in their “What I did on my summer vacation” composition!