I’m sitting here in front of my computer with a nice glass of ice tea, soon to be followed by something on the grill and a nice glass of something a bit stronger than ice tea. Soon to be followed by doing nothing. That’s right, doing nothing. It’s summertime. Remember the old song lyrics, Porgy and Bess, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy” or Nat King Cole, “Bring back those lazy hazy, crazy days of summer.” Well, those days are back and this week we are going with lazy and easy.
First a set of Pat’s favorite old summertime photos with a few of my comments, and then a set of mine with a few random notes of Pat. Here’s Pat.
In the Midwest, when I was growing up, you swam at a pool or a lake or pond and had a place at a lake for vacationing if you were wealthy. The people I knew joined the local pool and maybe spent a week at a lake an hour or two away.
Once we were old enough we spent most afternoons at the pool; the local town park had a town pool that a family could join for a reasonable fee. We took swimming lessons in the morning, run by the local Red Cross. It could be downright chilly some mornings. In the afternoon we rode our bikes to the park and established our places around the pool, laying out towels and a book or bag.
My mother used to talk about being taken to Lake Erie as a child, to swim and picnic and fish with her family .(I knew Pat’s mother, she was the enormously capable, organized mother of five. It tickles me to think of her as a carefree girl.)
The family went on such adventures every Sunday afternoon until both my mother and uncle went off to college. My grandmother had never learned to swim until she learned as a mother when her two children did. My mother said that Grandma Cena had been afraid in boats when they went fishing, because if the boat capsized or she somehow fell in she wouldn’t know how to save herself. So when she had the chance as an adult, she learned to swim well enough to feel comfortable out on the water. I suspect she never liked it much though. Most of the pictures of their family and water seem to have been taken by her father, my Grandpa Lyle.
This set of pictures was taken at Lake Erie. I know this because my mother carefully labeled one. Unfortunately she didn’t note specifically where on Lake Erie it was. Probably because as a child she knew very well where it was and assumed others would too. It could have been Mitiwanga, which was a popular vacation place and destination for a weekend trip.
The pictures are not dated, but from the look of the children and my grandfather, it was probably around 1926-1928. You can also see the family penchant for occasionally labeling a picture with a cute description along with who the person was. (At least they were labelled–God bless the labellers.)
Now, my turn. These pictures are left over from my post on the Jersey shore. The first one is a studio shot of my Great-aunt Jennie, about 1901 or 1915. The women of my family and probably of most families of that time would don all of their finery for studio pictures, but not at the beach. It is great fun to see them in their casual wear.
The next one is my aunt, uncle and cousin on the boardwalk. Judging by the age of my cousin this must have been taken in 1939. All of the people in this photo are still alive. My Uncle Syd is 96 and my Aunt Myrna is 95. In a younger day my aunt had more energy than any three people I know. They are not in the best of health and it is a pleasure for me to look at this picture and see them so young and vital. (This reminds me of Coney Island many years later. Can’t you just smell the sea and the hotdogs and the cotton candy?)
My last picture is of my grandfather on the beach. It’s not a great photo and my grandfather doesn’t look very happy. I don’t know who the people without heads are. What’s interesting about this picture for me is the inscription on the back, “Ma come quick, Pa’s got his arm around Essie.” No, I don’t know who Essie is, or rather which Essie this might be. Esther was a common Jewish name at the time and there were bunches of Essies among my family and their friends. (And this is the problem with the labels we have on many of our pictures. Whoever wrote that knew who Essie was, but we don’t. And we know Pa is Judy’s grandfather because she knows that’s who the man is. Time to start labeling that box of photos while I still remember.) It’s good to have these photos to see people before I knew them and be able to imagine their lives before I was born.