This is a classic picture from my childhood. I am on the right with the crazy huge smile. I have no recollection of this event but any time my sister and her friends allowed me to be in their presence it was the BEST DAY EVER. My sister is five years older than me, back then she was a god-like. Now…now, she is just Allison, a normal human, that said, she would still focus on her marshmallow roasting technique with the same need for perfection.
Back to the picture. My guess is it was a hot summers day, it started to rain, and my mom wanted to keep us busy. No better solution than “roasting marshmallows” over what looks like a citronella bug candle. Carcinogenic summer fun. It was probably 1968 or so, guessed by my lack of hair and my sister’s hip sandals. Did you know Birkenstocks came to America in 1966? Allison always had the latest in fashion trends, she also had Frye boots, and macrame wedged platforms in the 70s. Perks of spending weekends with her mom in Manhattan. I enjoyed the perks of hand-me-downs, win win.
Like most kids in the 70s, we grew up making it work, no instant Amazon solutions, no random purchases just because. If you wanted a toy when it wasn’t your birthday or Christmas…you made your own version. If you needed paints while on Fire Island…you smashed some beets, crushed some green leaves, or watered down thick house paint from the shed. Rainy summer days might mean mud fights in our bathing suits, frog hunting, or puddle splash wars with umbrella shields. Boredom was the path to creativity and we were bored a lot… all kids were.
Greg recently read me a eulogy his cousin wrote about their Aunt Rosie. I met her on our honeymoon in South Dakota…where we had the classic honeymoon experience of…visiting a pig farm. Seeing a billion baby pigs climbing all over each other was like being on another planet. Did you know their cute little spiral tails are clipped off so they won’t bite them off later? Fact. I squealed in delight at the thought of living a Fern and Wilbur moment…so Rosie let me pick up a piglet. Uncle Rubin arrived during said moment and everyone went quiet…and that’s when I learned holding piglets is a no no. Anyway, we moved on to sun tea and cookies, and it was glorious. The eulogy made Greg’s eyes water…filled with memories of playing games created by older cousins, having fun in the “itchy pit”, and Aunt Rosie…always with a smile. This gaggle of Midwesterners made their fun just like us New Yorkers…different worlds, same solution to boredom.
I interrupt this Swoon to point out that the beautiful fields (and pits) in South Dakota are sinister and evil. At age the of 24 (while on the same honeymoon), donning a very cute babydoll dress, I ran through the fields of the Nemec homestead. Living my long-awaited Little House on the Praire moment. While experiencing this bliss, I was bitten by a million and one chiggers. It was not the most romantic development…I itched for weeks. I am not sure why they would fondly remember the “itchy pit”, maybe it had nothing to do with chiggers.
Today is a winter Sunday…cleaning, writing a Swoon, making a turtle shell for the high school play, cooking, and football…not much boredom these days, but still making it work.