Slow, simple summers of days gone by

Red-Kool-Aid mustaches, lightning bugs in a jar, revival preacher at our house, learning “do re mi” at singing school, homemade ice cream with a yard full of relatives are just a few of the flashing summer scenes which roll through my mind as I think of summers gone by. Never would we have sat in the house playing games on our I-pad (even if we had owned one) when the sun was sparkling on the dewy grass outside.

When I was a kid our days were overfilled with activities. Vacation Bible School was always on our agenda. You could bank on two weeks of summer-break time being eaten away with VBS. Thinking back to that little country church, I remember bible stories, mission time, crafts, but best of all was a small cup of red Kool-Aid dipped out of a no. 2 washtub with one big block of ice in the center, along with 2 store-bought cookies for refreshment (The cheapest variety.)  “No seconds,” the dipper lady would remind.

When we got home, Mother would say, “Okay, Girls, we’ve got to make up some time since we were gone all morning.”  That meant getting a pail, filling it with green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and whatever else was ready for the picking. Thinking we were through with chores and ready to play, our hopes were dashed when she would say, “After you eat your sandwich, usually banana or peanut butter and jelly, grab a hoe and get after those weeds in the garden.” Finally, we would get to run and romp and enjoy our leisure. We tried to play out of sight of the house, because if Mother happened to see us, she might think of other chores she wanted us to do.

Another week or two of summer involved going to singing school where we learned to beat 4/4 time or sometimes, ¾. After being drilled on the tonic scale – the do-re-mi – we would sing “Marilla’s Lesson,” notes only in the fa-sol- la style.  We loved it when we got to sing some of the old hymns with real words.  Our favorite was “Where Could I Go.” We didn’t sing the words exactly as they were written.  When we got to the line, “—needing in a friend to save me in the end,” we thought we were really bad when we sang, —“needing a friend to kick me in the end.” We changed up a few others.  Instead of “Bringing in the sheaves,” our comic version was “bringing in the sheets.” It didn’t take much to break the boredom and entertain us.

Still another week or two was taken up with summer revival. We always hosted the revival preacher. My sisters and I dreaded it because we had to be on our best behavior, but worse, we couldn’t wear our short shorts that week.  We tried to make an impression on the preacher by making a point of his seeing us read our bible sometime during his stay.  On one occasion, we had suffered a terrible drought.  All the farmers around were whining the woes of failing crops.  The visiting preacher suggested we stay after service one night and talk to the Lord about it.  In round-robin style each man pleaded with God for rain.

When we started to the morning service, (yes, we had morning and evening services,) the preacher came out with a big umbrella.  My dad asked him why he needed an umbrella. “Where’s yours,” Mr. Cochran? “We asked God to send rain, didn’t we?” A little ashamed, Daddy went back in and got his. He didn’t want the other guys at church to see him with it though, because we had a cloudless sky.  Before the service was over, rains poured down – the flooding-ditches kind of rain.  Grown men went outside and danced around in the downpour like children.  Now that was a lesson in faith.

I would have liked to have been a juvenile delinquent (or as our country preacher called it, (gen-ye-wine genuine delinquents), but there weren’t enough weeks in the summer for that.

I guess lightening bugs and ice cream will have to wait until next month.

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