Saturday, June 8, 2013
Do you have great memories of childhood summers? I do! My parents were not affluent, but they scrimped and saved so we could have a week’s vacation each year. We went to New Hampshire one year – for something different after years of vacations in Sea Isle City/Townsend’s Inlet. But, we were spoiled by all of the great times at the shore – it was beautiful in New Hampshire, but so quiet! I don’t think I appreciated peace and quiet when I was a child.
At the shore, we loved mugging for Dad’s movie camera – one time, we took turns going into the outdoor shower stall, then Dad would stop the camera, and we’d switch places with another sibling (or cousin). Dad would start recording again, and we’d all laugh so hard that it looked like one kid went into the shower, and another came out. (Kid humor – what can I say?!)
We watched the first astronauts land on the moon on a tiny portable TV we brought from home – more static than picture (no cable TV in those days), but it was HISTORY! We watched one of my teenaged brothers teach another how to drive stick shift - and laughed at the jerky ride. We had various cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends who would come down for a day trip – to spend the day on the beach (even if we had umbrellas up, because it was pouring rain), get showers at our place, have dinner, and go home.
My cousin Cindy from Canada would spend that week with us each summer – a big treat! We’d go to the Trading Post to shop for some treasure or another with our little bit of cash.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that many of our memories involved food. My sister Mary and I loved taking a quarter and walking from the beach to the fudge shop for a “bag of scraps”. Oh, the quantity/variety of fudge we could get for a mere 25 cents! Then, there was the time Uncle Fred decided to cook clams and spaghetti – something none of us had ever eaten. He spent several hours preparing dinner.
In my 20s, I spent several fun summers with a share in a shore house. I was never a big drinker, but I sure loved to go dancing at the Avalon Cabaret, Bongo Room, and Jack's Tavern. We'd arrive at leisure after work on Friday evening - or early on Sat., after hitting David Dye's Friday Flashback at the Chestnut Cabaret. On Fridays, Ray would make a grocery shopping list - still remember how he'd say "okay, we need t.p." - always the first item on the list. We'd plan out our meals for the weekend. He'd do the shopping after the clubs on Fri. night/Sat. morning - 2 AM, best time to shop! We'd usually spend the days on the beach, talking, reading magazines, and going in the water. Once, Barb left her hand on her thigh and fell asleep. No one noticed, but Barb had a red leg - except for the hand mark. We'd hang out in the living room at our house, singing along to Luther Vandross cassettes. Sometimes, we'd go to Garrity's to sing along while Lonzi played. Often, we'd leave for work on Mon. morning, so that we could enjoy ALL of Sunday. Oh, those were the days! Not a care in the world - just sun, sea, songs, dancing, chatting, and relaxing with friends.
As my parents became grandparents, they began to rent a place again – and the grandkids would come down. At the time, I worked in the corporate world, but I’d take the week off to be the doting aunt, help Mom with the kids, relive childhood memories, and make new memories. Mom was always a short-order cook for breakfast, and we had great dinners with the kids. Afterwards, we’d all go to the Yum Yum’s ice cream shop in Sea Isle. The kids delighted in finding the gumdrop in the bottom of the cone!
This week, I was able to take a day trip to the shore, and to this day, I can’t leave the shore without picking up some fudge. As soon as I cross over to the island side of the beach, I get such a feeling of relaxation and bliss that harkens back to simpler times.
It seems that today’s parents are too hard on themselves, always feeling they have to go-go-go. I can tell you that my happiest childhood memories involve building sand castles, body surfing, walking the boards, having ice cream. What are yours?
I thought I’d end this column with a really great, really easy recipe that will bring summer into your kitchen. My youngest niece gave it to me when I first began my business. She was 5, and she ripped it out of a kids’ magazine she subscribed to. She told me that maybe I could use it in one of my classes. I thought that was so adorable (I AM a doting aunt, after all), but the recipe has proven to be a favorite of little ones. We call it “Ocean in a Cup”.
“OCEAN IN A CUP” JELLO DESSERT
blue Jello gelatin (prepared as on box)
peach or orange slices
construction paper “sails”
Prepare blue Jello and chill as directed on box. Put Jello in clear dessert dishes or glasses. Stir in several Swedish fish candies. Place one peach slice on top of Jello “ocean”. Attach construction paper “sail” to toothpick. Stick toothpick with sail into center of orange/peach “sailboat”.