We asked our residents to share their favorite stories about summer and the Fourth of July. We’re sure many of you can relate to these details and images of summers past!
Bob & Margaret Bearse
Bob received his Ph.D. in May of 1964. He was scheduled to go into the U.S. Army on July 1, so we notified our landlord that we would be out by June 30. At the last minute, Bob was notified that his date was changed to Aug. 1, so we needed some place to stay for a month. We decided to go to Rhode Island and stay at his parent’s summer place on Prudence Island. But we hated to be traveling on the Fourth of July, so we looked for an intermediate stop. Luckily, Bob’s aunt and uncle lived in Columbus, Ohio, so we called to ask if we could stay. Bob rather sheepishly asked if we could stay two nights to avoid the Fourth traffic. Her answer: “Well, it would be a shame to get the sheets dirty for only one night.”
The weather was very hot, our car had no air conditioning, and we remember fondly a root beer float at an A&W. We arrived in Columbus (actually a suburb called Upper Arlington) and bedded down on the sofa bed in the study with the windows wide open to catch the breeze. The next morning, we awoke almost freezing to death. A cold front had come through lowering the temperature surprisingly. We, of course, had no warm clothing, but our gracious host had some spares for us.
The next morning, we headed out again, having avoided the traffic, to enjoy a month of sea breezes.
I always enjoyed the Fourth of July, but it never made me feel particularly patriotic until I had the occasion to celebrate Independence Day in a foreign country.
In the summer of 1963, our family – my wife, our three boys and I – were in Costa Rica on July 4. The U.S. ambassador staged a picnic for all U.S. nationals who were in the country on that day. It was a great picnic, but most importantly, it made us feel very, very patriotic to share the day with all our fellow Americans who were there in Costa Rica.
My summertime activities as a young person:
A lot of my growing up years were during World War II. We didn’t ever take vacations because of gas and tire rationing. I suspect that monetary concerns were also involved. My dad was a fireman so he worked two weeks days and two weeks nights. When he worked nights my mother and I would go to the movies a lot, not necessarily to see the show but to see the news reels. Remember, we didn’t have television. My brother was in the Navy in the South Pacific and we always tried to see his ship on the news. This gave me just about enough of war pictures.
My biggest memories are of the work that we all did. My parents, being farmers by family history, always had a big garden in North Lawrence. In the mornings we would go pick berries, hoe, etc. Then come home when it began to get hot and snap beans, shell peas and whatever else needed to be done with the produce. After lunch I was “free” for about four hours. We played a lot of paper dolls, read a lot, anything that was cool. All this time my Mom was canning, washing, ironing.
In the evening we would go back to the garden again until it began to get dark. Then we would stop at the Union Pacific Depot and watch the trains go by. There were usually steam engines that stopped to take on water there. Then we would stop at South Park to watch baseball games. After that we would go home to 1220 Rhode Island and sit on the porch for a while. The kids played kick the can, way more fun in the dark. Then we would take a bath and go to bed. Remember, we didn’t have air conditioning so you took a bath, didn’t dry off and slept in the window where a breeze came in. Good times that taught me the value of work and play.