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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Remembering hot summer nights

  • Yes, I am quickly getting old, which is the reason I write a column of this nature.
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  • Yes, I am quickly getting old, which is the reason I write a column of this nature.
    Yet, I feel like my time on earth has been more fortunate than current younger or future generations. My great grandfather once told me the same about his life.
    Not that life is bad now, if anything many things are easier. Not all memories from the old days were good. My family, like most, did not own an air conditioner until I was 18. This meant sleeping in hot rooms with fans blowing additional hot air and consequentially little sleep.
    Throwing hay bales, fishing and baseball adventures meant that severe chigger bites covered my legs making sleep even more impossible. Many of you reading this column painfully know what I mean.
    Today I have chigger medicine, central air and no trouble sleeping, especially when night temperatures are over 90 degrees!
    Kids made their own fun in the last of our pre-electronic age before cell phones, computers or big screen televisions. We had the same outdoors that youth may enjoy today and we did.
    I was raised in the country with milk-can coolers that made watermelons ice cold and farm ponds filled with fish, generally catfish, bluegill and bass. About once or twice a month during warm weather someone would decide to build a bonfire by the pond and everyone would spend the evening. My Ozark friends did the same by clear-water rivers.
    The adults would sit and chat while us kids chased fireflies, played hide and seek or watched catfish rods. There was always lots of good food and homemade cookies or cake.
    Occasionally the catfish were biting and enough were caught to skin and throw in a dutch oven. Few meals were ever better than freshly caught catfish and ice cold watermelon. Naturally there were many side dishes to go with the fish.
    My great grandmother made the best apple or blackberry cobbler in a bluish pan with white specks over the coals. The well-cooked fruit would pour over the sides. There were never leftovers!
    We all wandered around the woods at night without fear. We had done this most of our lives and knew where to go and how to navigate. Cold weather coon hunts at night were part of the reason.
    Eventually we all grew up and moved from the country. Many are living in cities now, while a few still manage to create meager livings off small farms. The older folks are gone.
    But I would give almost anything to hear those beautiful voices around that pond bank, talking or laughing or taste one of my grandmother’s blackberry cobblers cooked to perfection.
    So now I know why the old folks talked about their good old days when I was young. I imagine my ramblings some silly to younger generations like my old folks did. But sometimes you just have to find a way to go back.

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