Summer for a kid in the mid-50s, early 60s
By Brenda Harrison, Editor
School is out and summer fun is in full swing. While kids today spend time at a wide variety of day camps and organized activities, the kids of my generation came up with our own plans to fill our summer days.
Most of our time was spent outdoors, from sun up to sundown. There were always neighborhood children to play with, and together we decided how to shape our days of freedom from school and studies.
We didn’t have structured or scheduled activities, except Vacation Bible School hosted by churches about a week after school was out. I looked forward to VBS, mostly because we made crafts and during refreshment time when we had Kool-Aid and cookies.
The rest of the summer, except for a week’s vacation with the family to the beach or mountains, we just played.
Girls played hopscotch and watched or joined in when the boys shot marbles. We all rode bikes around the neighborhood or to a nearby playground.
Whenever we got a nickel, dime or quarter, we headed over to the neighborhood store to buy a bag of penny candy, a bag of Tom’s peanuts, a Coca Cola or RC Cola, an orange ice cream Pushup or a bag of Lay’s potato chips.
I remember when the hula hoops were introduced. Back then I could hula with the best of them. As I grew older I lost my hula rhythm and today I’m hopeless with a hoop.
On hot summer days, moms usually called us indoors during midday when temperatures were highest. During those times we played cards or board games such as Parchesi, Monopoly or Chinese Checkers. If we got bored, we could find an adventure through the pages of a book or find entertainment with a comic book.
During the summer, we also explored nearby wooded areas, built forts, and picked wild blackberries, eating them right off the bush. Sometimes we found maypops (the green egg-like fruit of the purple passion flower) growing along ditches beside the road. When that happened we threw them on the pavement or stomped on them to hear them pop.
When we found a Honeysuckle vine, we pulled off the delicate flowers to taste a smidgen of their sweetness.
If we got thirsty, we drank water from the hose and it was good and refreshing.
Sometimes we took homemade lemonade or Kool-Aid out of the fridge and set up an outdoor refreshment stand. I don’t remember making much money – if any – but it was fun and made me feel like a proprietor.
Occasionally we set up a stage on our front porch by tying a rope between two posts and draping a blanket over it to serve as a curtain. Then we kids performed for each other, doing what, I can’t remember.
We didnt have a lot of television programs to watch during the day. There were early cartoons and westerns on Saturday mornings, and during weekday mornings we had “Howdy Doody Time” and then later “Captain Kangaroo,” and “Felix the Cat.” Florence only had two TV stations broadcasting here and there was no Cable TV. Also, there was no way to watch a Hollywood movie at home back then. We had to go downtown to the Carolina or Colonial Theaters on Saturday mornings when they played kid shows.
Compared to today, there wasn’t as much for kids to do, but we stayed busy and had fun.