Summer Memories – Bestest Summer

In our ongoing collection of Summer Memories, Gaboo decides lemonade sales make for an enterprising vacation from the parents.


Bestest Summer Ever

This had to be the week that my youngest brother was born. He came into the world, a blessing. Not that my younger brother wasn’t also a trinket of joy when he meekly stole the hearts of all he surveyed (he makes Kevin Spacey look droll), but me kid bro forever loosened up my schedule with the parental units.

My mother was attended during her pregnancy, with fluttering sisters and seclusion from the ilk (me). My responsible father co-managed household, business, and his laboring beloved, leaving those with rambling imaginations and hot August boredom to play amok. And we played, my younger brother and I, with the neighbor kids. The gang. The posse. Back when we called ourselves gangs and posses. We were a western movie, or a war movie, or the Badass Angle Space Racer Team with gaming cards clothespin’d to our bicycle spokes, flapping a sputter like a Norton.

Every kid got to be the hero and every kid got picked on for his faults and called upon for his virtues. One kid told good jokes, and another had a great dying scene when we sprayed him with invisible biting bullets. We all had an edge and we ran like hounds. Boys, girls, all different skin tones and hair colors. It didn’t matter. It mattered how well you could play—and how much. The drag kids got called away, or they couldn’t stay out past seven. Their chores were learning rituals prescribed by dads who wore pants with seams, and moms who found solace in shopping and timid, behaving little children.

We had favorite trees, and stinky places to avoid. We new all the sheds and lots, keep outs, hide-outs, alleys and straight-aways. A chain link fence line that ringed the playground was a territory line, like a meeting place where elementary soap operas played out in head games and word games, fibs and dares. Anything metal was a musical kickball barrier. Anything wood was a pen knife canvas. The monkey bars were the lounge, the homo sapiens’ hangout, where we contorted and told stories, spying in plain view on the four corners of our secret domain. We lulled each other with dream tales of cousins who worked in chocolate factories and our own altered lives where we were heros in the middle of great escapes. Evel Knievel was magic, and our favorite movie stars, beamed to us personally on Saturday afternoon, were gods. The days tripped along on innocence and imaginations conjured real possibilities of things like flight with a bed sheet, and bottle caps as money. We looked for things with wheels that moved. Everywhere were monsters. Monsters that grew in voracity and feature with each monster story told.

This was the meandering life in the suburban district of a crossroads town between two dank lakes. And during the summer, each kid would approach the others and solemnly announce they were to go camping with the family, or visit relatives, or she had go to summer school, barf. And each kid was missed for the time they were gone. Meanwhile, I lived a hundred years in each day during those summers. Running. Running and running to catch up with earth and slow the days.

I probably had a crush on each girl in the extended neighborhood, but each at the wrong time, not when they might have had a crush on me. I became entwined when they were fickle, or distracted, or talking about piano lessons. I would listen to them, or try to listen, and just see their lips moving and their eyes with summer fire. I analyzed cute noses more back then. I didn’t think about hips and jiggle—we were too young. We wanted a girl who was beautiful and wily, a girl who could run and hang out past seven. Sometimes girls were distant, and sometimes they were like fleas.

Just like the guys—the buddies. The paramount, never leave behind, inner pack. This was the crew you could confide with. Even visiting cousins and relatives couldn’t enter the pack unless they could do something cool, like get bubble gum, or they possessed a laugh track sense of timing. They had to be able to kick the ball further, and some could. Some of those visiting relatives were really cool cats. Some even tempted us toward a life of crime. But it was funny, you knew the bad ones were heading for personal demise—kids could sense it—and sure it would happen, some neighbor mom would be talking about cousin Ralph, who had to go to delinquent court for juveniles or some ominous sounding misunderstood bureaucracy.

Sooo, my brother, baby boy. Yeah, little buddy, you bought me a great summer. With Mom away and Dad at work, and Mrs. Miller overseeing as neighborhood hen, I looked out on perfect days of rock kicking saunters, bug tracking, and making dust tracks in the playground.

That’s when the paving crew came to town. This occurrence sparked a window of opportunity in my tender mind. Even now, I smell fresh, hot asphalt and my blood goes young. They started by sending notice to move parked cars. Then great machines came to tear up the road. And the levelers came, with dump trucks of gravel and sand for leveling. This is when I got my greatest idea ever, up til then. I decided to open a lemonade stand.

The possibilities were endless. I could not calculate my windfall if I pulled this off. We needed jugs, and a card table, and a sign, and lemonade stuff. I commandeered my piggy bank first, a carry over ritual for thrift, and luckily, it was plastic with a removable bottom so I could make withdrawals and not have to explain my fiduciary needs. I started slowly at first, but quickly became a hound for investment capital. I believe I dipped into my younger brother’s pig, as well.

We purchased the lemonade from the corner store and mixed it in jugs at our own house, to keep from being “a nuisance” to Mrs. Miller. At the time, I wondered if we were at our leisure to do this endeavor. Does an eight-year-old consider licensing? Not in those words.

Onward. Little Cindy-Lou Who would tag along in our schemes, when she was released to play with the older children. She was six, cute as a button, and immediately charged with sales. She would stand, proudly making our lemonade pitch to the stern and burly paving crews. It worked like a New York campaign.

We sold lemonade, buckets of lemonade. When Mrs. Miller saw we were shorting the paving crew by filling up jugs with the garden hose, she took over lemonade production and helped us maintain consistent quality, kids running back and forth from her kitchen, sloshing yellow ade in a slick sugary line along the sidewalk. Then we branched into hotdogs. We bought package after package of DozenDogs from the corner store. Mrs Peterson, another mom, volunteered to boil them, which allowed us to serve cooked and non-lethal lunches. Our customers, saw, laughed, and came with money in their hot paving hands. Little Cindy-Lou milked it for the money. She was great, like a new auto show girl. The flagging crew dropped change in her collection bucket at every break. “Oh, she’s so cute,” the sunburned women in orange vests and short shorts would gush.

We were in the shade, my friend. But eventually we outdid ourselves. The corner store complained that we cleaned out what his regular customers depended on—buns, condiments, and such. It was a glorious run, though. In the end, we made enough to stuff that piggy bank twice over. And what did we do with the money? Divvied it up between us, yours truly taking a percentage for coordination and franchise fees. For the next week we lounged in the monkey bars, reading comics, discussing superhero monster fighting tactics, sauntering, kicking rocks, and we bought out all the candy from the corner store.

And little brother, I don’t think Mom ever knew. Well, she must of known, from the neighborhood hens—I mean, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Peterson. However, she never mentioned anything and we were busy, on a lazy, August, sugar high.

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2 Responses to “Summer Memories – Bestest Summer”
  1. angel says:

    Lovely story. Truly. Thank you!

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