What made me realize that this particular pandemic-plagued summer was already sailing inexorably into its sunset was a photo my beloved Favorite Only Sister posted on Instagram recently.
Here it is. Showing a mixed assortment of Clinton County Parade spectators. Looks like I missed a *sniff* swell time that year
She posted it because, yes, it’s Clinton County Fair Time again. The Parade pictured was enjoyed during a time when we kids were all grown up, some of us with kids of our own. I was, alas, missing from the scene that particular year. But I did get to witness the “Surfing the Internet with God” float (pictured at the top of this post) on another similarly-memorable Parade-watching occasion.
Even more of a shock to me than Chuck Berry’s recent demise was to open the Times and see an obit for one of the Really Cute Girls who used to dance in bikinis on Laugh In.
Remembering Chelsea Brown — and Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne — ‘go-go’ dancing their little hearts out got me to thinking about how much fun we used to have watching TV back in those days.
See, TV back then didn’t mean streaming a show on your iPad with your earphones in. It meant sprawling on the living-room floor, consuming huge cereal bowls of ice cream (usually vanilla, but sometimes a flavor called ‘Neapolitan’; the green stripes being my favorite) or sharing a giant washtub of popcorn (Littlest Brother Doug was the designated Popcorn Chef; he popped it in a battered aluminum pot on the stovetop, shaking it energetically and listening carefully for the last ‘pops’ so it didn’t burn).
Littlest Brother Doug (with Major Moseby) taking a break from his corn-popping duties
‘Listening to the Warm: sensational summery sounds’
Forget Rod McKuen. It was Henry James who nailed summer. He once famously said that the two most beautiful words in the English language were ‘summer afternoon’. Go on; say them out loud. Better yet, murmur them.
‘Summer af-ter-noon‘. Mmmmmmmmm. You can practically feel that hammock swaying.
But I haven’t talked much about summer sounds. You know the ones I mean; sounds that really say summer. Fireworks. The ice-cream truck. And, for me anyway, that fwap fwap fwap sound that happens when you clip playing cards onto your bike spokes with clothespins and ride home from the Carlyle Municipal Pool gnawing on a frozen Milky Way.
When I was a kid back in the Midwest the highlight of our summer was the Clinton County Fair. It was hot, it was dusty. It was noisy, it was crowded. But it had carnies and cotton candy and corn dogs. We loved getting sick on the rides and even sicker on the food. (We also used to have a blast arguing over which high school girl was going to be crowned Miss Clinton County Fair, but that’s another story.)
But the Fair always made my Mom sad. She said it was because Fair Time, even though it was right at the height of ‘calendar summer’ — July, for heavens’ sakes — meant, for her, that Summer Time was pretty much over. I never understood this until I got older and summer started lasting ten minutes.
Anyway. According to the calendar, today is the day Summer is officially over, the ‘end’ being September 21 (or is it 22 this year?) But I say ‘calendar schmalendar’. We all have our own, very personal, ways of deciding when Summer is over, or about to be. For some, it’s Labor Day. For others, it’s when Continue reading