Saturday, September 17, 2005

In Retrospect ~ Summers in Ohio

My mother's sister lived in Warren, Ohio during the 40's to the 60's and we used to go to visit her for a week in the summer. She and my Uncle Joe had a dog named Pooch, a water spaniel who had a "liver spot" coat. Pooch was a wonderful dog and my favorite Ohio companion. I had a playmate named Norma Gipp, who lived around the corner. She had a huge cherry tree in her back yard and it was always in full fruit when we visited. Shaking the tree would bring down showers of fresh cherries and I would come back to my aunt's home with my face, hands and clothes smeared with red cherry juice, oh - and a very full stomach!

Norma had one thing she used to say to everyone; she would ask us to spell her name and add the word funny. I was amused to see that it was "G-I-P-P funny.
(Remember, I was 8-12 years old.) At the time, I wished I had such a neat name! One year while we were there, Norma's school had not let out for the summer, so she took me to school with her. The kids in her class wanted to know if I grew cotton and peanuts "way down there in WV". I asked them if they had ever studied geography - or looked at a map. I could not believe that they really thought WV was that far south! They teased me for saying "you all" and I had nothing but scorn for those who said "youse guys".

My aunt was a world-class cook, and I have written about her prowess before. She and my uncle Joe loved to fish, and they always cooked whatever they caught and she made it taste like manna from Heaven. She took me on my first fishing trip at age six to Lake Pamatuning (it might be Pymatuning) which is in or near PA, not far from where she lived. I had beginner's luck; catching several sunfish that first time. I was so proud.

We used to go to Lake Erie to swim and have amazing picnics, which had to be the forerunners of modern-day tailgaiting for all their elaborateness. I think I may have already written about them too. I loved going to the lake; I had not been to see the ocean, but I didn't see how it could be any bigger than Lake Erie. The water was clear back then (I understand it is not so clean now) and it was fun to wade out for what seemed like a mile on the clean, soft sandy bottom. When we tired of swimming, we would walk out onto the long rock jetties which jutted out into the lake, and pretend we were going to catch a cruise ship to far-away lands.
My aunt's house had a big, wide front porch. The house was built in the craftsman-style, a bungalow. I loved to sit after dinner in her cushioned glider or in the swing, talking and asking questions about the "olden days". All the children on the block came out at night to catch lightning bugs in vented mayonnaise jars. Those bugs were so plentiful back then you could catch 10 every minute without even trying. That was before the advent of DDT, whih I suppose was a good chemical for some things, but it also killed many beneficial or harmless bugs.

Across the street from my aunt's house, there was a huge parking lot used by the employees of a business that eventually became Hewlett-Packard, if I remember correctly. On weekends, when it was empty, we could ride bikes to our heart's content without our parents worrying we would get hit. Of course, I always had to borrow a bike from someone nice enough to share, but nice people were not in short supply back then.
Sometimes we would play croquet in the back yard. One particularly nice Fourth of July, my uncle was grilling Italian sausages and hot dogs on the "new built-in barbecue grill" and I was helping to set up the croquet game. Barefoot as usual, I stepped on a bee in the grass. I howled; it hurt soooo bad. He stung me on the arch, in a tender spot. I was grounded for several days, as I could not put foot to floor without wincing in pain. That didn't dissuade me from going barefoot, though, which I did nearly everyday (at least in the house) until I cut my toe in the lawn mowing accident. After that, I had to wear shoes to protect that delicate digit, which I would invariably hit on the base of the kitchen counters. Talk about pain! But I digress.
My summers in Ohio were a wonderful part of my growing up and learning how people who lived in other places differed from my family. I thought at the time they were very different, but I came to realize that we were alike in the ways that mattered most, and the ways we differed just made us more interesting to each other. I learned tolerance for those differences, and for that, I am grateful.


MissMeliss said...

Here from Michele's - for the first time in far too long.

I used to catch lightning bugs as a kid in New Jersey. I miss such innocent pleasures.

But I could live without the mosquitoes.

Indigo said...

I love it!! I'm in Wisconsin, say 'youse guys' all the time. But, I've grown very fond of saying 'y'all' too. I actually prefer it. :-)

Hello, Michele sent me. Have a great night!

mooalex said...

Lovely memories. Thanks for sharing them. Michele sent me.

YellowRose said...

Reminds me of my childhood. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

And thanks for dropping by "The Garden," via Michele! said...

I miss those long summer vacations!

Weary Hag said...

You know what Judy? You've just reminded me that if you really look hard enough for happiness... you could find it lurking in an empty parking lot on the weekend. I can SO relate to that. :)

(on the downside here, I must admit I grew up using terms like "youse guys" and even the more Brooklynese "yiz." I feel your scorn! *smile*)

dena said...

Your post reminds me of things I did as a child. Croquet? Do kids today even know how to play? Fishing and eating your catch? The best! Your memories are wonderful.

visiting from michele's

utenzi said...

Michele sent me to you this fine Sunday, Judy. Good morning!

As I recall from Ecology class a long way back, it wasn't long after your visits there that Erie hit it's nadir. Since the 70s it's gotten a lot better though I don't know if it's returned to the state it was in when you were there. I remember being in HS in the mid 70s and hearing on the news that a river in Ohio had caught fire. Sounds very weird but it helped jumpstart the move to clean up the great lakes.

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

Good morning!
What a great post with such lovely memories!
Here via Michele's, so glad I stopped by.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is a beautiful reminisce, Judy. Way to go.

I remember in the late 1930's living in a house with a screened-in porch. In the evenings we would sit out there and listen to Fibber McGee, the Shadow, Lum n' Abner or Amos and Andy. Good stuff.

kenju said...

Happy to be of service to those who can remember the same things.

Hoss, those old radio shows are a new post by themselves. I wish I remembered more of them. Those truly were the days!!

Laura said...

Enjoyed this post, Judy. Reminds me of various summer trips to see my Aunt in Kentucky, and of other family trips to Canada. I'd forgotten about the lightning bugs, we rarely see them either. :(

TC said...

Michelle sent me

Wonderful post and great memories.

Amanda Matilda said...

My ancestors lived in Pymatuning, PA for several decades, from the early 1800's until just past the Civil War. I've never been to that part of the country. Thanks for the visit--makes me feel closer than before.

poopie said...

Nice memories! I remember going to Ohio in August one time and being amazed at the lack of heat and humidity after coming from Tennessee. I could get used to that!

srp said...

My folks were in Akron for one year but it was after I had married. New Brighton, PA is not that far from the Ohio border.

I too caught fireflies in glass jars and went barefoot in the yard, was stung on the foot by a wasp dining on a fallen apple, caught fish from the pond and ate them, and loved the big porch swing...all on my grandparents farm in Illinois.

Those times seemed more simple but then each generation believes this.

~Cathy~ said...

Nice memories! I live in southwest Ohio and went to school in northwest Ohio. You would not believe the number of people who referred to southern Ohio as down south! Drove me crazy! LOL

Michelle sent me! :)

Carmi said...

Hi Judy. I could practically see and feel what you described. Such rich recollections are the stuff of richness, and a sign of a life well lived.

Thanks for sharing this...I enjoyed every last word. I hope you've got lots more where this one came from.

Guess who sent me again...yup, Michele. But I'm already tracking your blog on my PalmPilot.

Gerbera Daisy said...

This post brought back some of my own memories. I used to catch lightning bugs in a jar also. I used to go barefoot all the time and was stung by bees on more than one occasion. And I also played croquet. I wonder if kids these days even know what croquet is let alone have played the game. I used to ride my bike all over the place.

I was brought up in South Western Indiana. I spent a few weeks for several summers with my aunt and uncle who lived in Cleveland, Ohio at the time. Everyone used to make fun of the way I talked and wanted to know from what part of the south I was from. (I STILL hear that!) I too learned about differences in people but how in some ways we are very much the same and to be tolerant. As I get older, I am becoming less and less tolerant of intolerance.

I cherish my childhood memories.

Yaeli said...

Wow Judy! What wonderful memories! You describe them so extensively and eloquently!

Michele sent me today!

Jamie Dawn said...

What sweet memories. Those cherries sound so good.
I had mental pictures about each part of your story because you told it so vividly. Isn't it funny how West Virginia seemed like a foreign land to those kids in Ohio?

bornfool said...

Wonderful well written story.

Romani Heart said...

I'm curious as to what part of NC you're from? No need to be specific, just middle, east or west will do :)

Maria said...

I found myself remembering Cherries from the tree and wonderful summers with friends. You are right we are all alike in more ways than we differ.

Hale McKay(Mike) said...

It is comforting to read people referring to them as lightning bugs again. Here in stuffy Boston, they laughed at me when I used that term instead of "fireflies." It was my twang, complete with "y'all" that attracted my future wife to me.
...But while I park my car in the yard, "she pahks the cah in the yahd."
... Nice post and nice memories.

Raehan said...

My children have had several summer vacations in Ohio. i hope at least my oldest will remember them.

Very nice post.