There were few greater moments in childhood than that glorious day in June when you walked from your school for the final time and stepped into summer vacation. The warden had granted his scholastic reprieve for a handful of weeks and it was up to you to make the best of them, to cram every bit of fun you could muster into those dog days of summer.
Assuming you weren’t subjected to the torment of summer school, and assuming the school hadn’t exceeded its snow day allotment, you could plan on a solid 8-10 weeks of vacation time.
If your parents were the ambitious type, you might spend some of that on classic road trip vacation, visiting friends and relatives. If they were the type that preferred solitude, you just might get shipped off to summer camp like this one in upstate.
For most, however, summer simply meant hanging out with friends and trying to stave off the muggy heat. Most kids enjoyed a certain relaxation of some restrictions. You could play outside with your friends a little later, stay up and watch TV into the wee hours, maybe even have a friend stay over on a weeknight.
If you were lucky, someone in the neighborhood had a decent pool. Otherwise you could escape to the air-conditioned comforts of a mall, movie theater, bowling alley, or roller rink.
Summer was also the time of backyard barbecues and block parties, with perhaps a few fireworks thrown in during the beginning of July. It was also the time of year that the ice cream man spread his good cheer through the neighborhood each day, offering such antidotes to the heat as bomb pops, Italian ices, Good Humor bars and Mr. Softee treats.
And if you missed the ice cream man, you could always head over to the nearest Carvel and have the sticky sensation of ice cream dripping down your arm in no time.
But, despite all of the fun, freedom and promise that summer had to offer, despite the best intentions to stay entertained, boredom usually set in quicker than expected. Soon, you found yourself wondering what teacher s you would have next year, and who would be in your classes.
Suddenly, the approaching school year didn’t seem entirely bad. The boredom softened the blow of future responsibilities just a tad which made the end of summer vacation seem bearable. Still, it would only be a few months before you were wrapped tightly in your winter coat and counting the moments until next year’s reprieve.
This isn’t from Long Island, but it sure brings back what a 1970s summer looked like, so I hope you’ll understand. 🙂
How did you spend your summer vacations on Long Island? Where did you go and what did you do. I would love to hear all of your recollections in our comments section below.