During summer mornings, Mother and I sit outside the front of the house in Queens, NY, where I grew up and rest in the cool breeze before the heat of the day arrives. My memories return to summer days of long ago.
On Sundays we would wake early and Mother would pack a cast iron pan, eggs, bacon and fresh bakery rolls. Father would put a charcoal grill in the car and we would head to Forest Park and create breakfast under the shady trees. In the afternoon the band shell featured live music. Those were wonderful days and I can imagine the fragrance of outdoor breakfasts, and the sounds of the drums, horns and violins along with the happy singing of the crowd.
Rockaway Beach, with ham and cheese sandwiches, was the alternative to the park. Mother froze cans of soda the night before so we didn't need to stop for ice on the way, and to keep everything cold within the walls of the packed cooler. At the beach, Father would sit in his lounge chair, Mother on her blanket, and my sister and I would jump in the waves. Vendors would walk by in the blazing sun selling ice cream bars from huge coolers on their shoulders and our parents would treat us. I remember feeling enormous gratitude for their hard work and I wished I could purchase a pop for them to cool off and enjoy. On the way home, all tired, sunburned and full of sand, we enjoyed the perfectly defrosted sodas with the windows wide open in our Chevy Impala.
Our apartment was on the second floor of a three story building and I would play all day long with friends in the backyard. Mother sent down lunch from the window in a brown shopping bag with a handle tied with a rope and carefully hoisted into our waiting arms. I felt frustrated when the knot was too tight but we always managed to open it. The treats inside made the day well worthwhile as we headed to enjoy them in the shade of the fig trees.
Father was a postal carrier. Occasionally, upon arriving home, he would greet me on the stoop and give me a dollar from his pocket and send me to Carvel to get an ice cream cone. He would always add, don't tell Mom as it is a treat before dinner after all, but deep down I knew she was well aware of this scheme. That Carvel shop still stands and I go back occasionally for a dripping vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles.
The passing of years have brought changes. I now hold Mothers arm to guide her safely across streets where she once held mine. I freeze soda cans prior to packing the beach cooler, and we enjoy them inside the closed car windows with the air-conditioner during the trip home. Bacon and eggs are prepared indoors on Sundays but bring back fond memories of the park. Brown shopping bags possess visions of sandwiches, candy and juice when I played outside as a child. Ice cream cones still drip and ham and cheese sandwiches taste wonderful at the beach. They remain the same and make me feel like a little girl again! Special times.
One day, our outside sitting will be added to the list of summers gone by. Oh those wonderful lazy, hazy days of summer will always be here!!!