New Castle News

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July 23, 2013

Kali Davies-Anderson: Summer carries warm memories — so why are today’s kids cool to it?

NEW CASTLE — Today is July 23 and summer is in full swing.

Summertime means very little to most adults, aside from those in the teaching profession, whom the rest of the world’s working class secretly hate. Yes, we take vacations. Yes, we don’t have to bundle ourselves up in parkas with insulated gloves. But, in general, the months of June, July and August are simply a stretch of days in which it is suddenly possible to work up a sweat while sitting still.

However, kids these days (there I go again, sounding like a 96-year-old man) don’t seem to be living out their “summer vacations” in the same manner that my sisters and I did. With all of the video games, iPads and cable television packages it seems as though the true meaning of summer is losing its gusto.

This lack of creativity among today’s youth (for some anyway) will be the demise of good, old-fashioned summertime fun (cue Chevy Chase entrance). Today, I will reflect on a few key memories of the warmer months from my own childhood.

1) Kickball in “the field” — I am fairly certain that my daughter’s generation will have no idea what the game of “kickball” entails. And for this I am sad. My neighborhood was mostly boys and boys like sports. So, naturally, when it was time to go outside and play, we headed to the field behind my parents’ house. With hand-dug bases covered with cinder blocks and an abundance of poison ivy in the outfield, we played kickball for hours on end, only stopping to eat and use the bathroom (which some of us may or may not have done outside as well). We didn’t have uniforms or solid rules, but we played fairly and aggressively. It was like “The Sandlot,” complete with a vicious dog to which we lost several of our kickballs.

2) The ice cream truck — This summer staple seems very self-explanatory, but it was so much more than ice cream. The ice cream truck resembled an all-day state of anticipation, only enhanced by the distant humming of the children’s song “Do your ears hang low?” Usually I was in my bedroom on the second story of my parents house when I would hear the music. Darting down the two flights of stairs and onto the front porch, I was almost weightless and floating toward the shiny, singing automobile. As I flagged down the burly driver my heart began to pound with excitement. Of course, I never had any money with me and had to run back to the house and beg for $1.25 for my favorite treat, a sno-cone. Usually it tasted awful and melted all over the sidewalk, but that’s what I always got. It was the icon for summer in my neighborhood.

3) Freedom — I wish that someone had told me when I was 9 that summertime would be the most freedom I would ever have in my entire life. Never again could I sleep in until noon, lay flat on my back for hours on end staring at clouds. I would not ever, in my lifetime, experience the liberation of leaving the house in the morning to play outside and only returning for bed. Children today, for the most part, are not living out their summers like I once did. Technology has changed our world mostly for the better. But, not in this case.

I hope that my children can get even a small taste of the summers that I experienced when I was younger. They were the best days of my childhood , carefree and technology free and for that, I will always be grateful.

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