Memories Of Summer

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For most people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Not me, and I’m being a Scrooge.

Summertime to me is the best time, bar none. It has everything a man or boy could want. It has baseball, racing, sunshine, warm air and beautiful scenery.

Let’s start with baseball. Well, I always start with baseball, which is natural since I’m an official card-carrying baseball junkie.

You can get your fix in summer regardless of your baseball tastes. There’s the minor league teams that are scattered throughout our great land, there’s summer college leagues and there’s, of course, the Major Leagues and youth leagues.

When I was younger, I remember every summer grabbing a radio, and while my friends and I were outside playing our own street baseball, we had a game on the radio. In the Midwest back then, the Cubs played day games and we could listen to them on the radio while we played ourselves.

At night, I could often get what radio folks call skipland signals from Chicago and I could listen to Harry Carray, Jimmy Piersall, Lorn Brown and Mary Shane as they broadcast White Sox games on old WMAQ, a station that no longer exists.

Then there were the nights when I could pick up the station in Philadelphia that carried the Phillies, with the great Harry Kalas doing the game.

His deep bass voice would echo through the night like a lighthouse on the shore warning approaching ships of a rocky fate.

You’ll remember Harry Kalas as the voice of the Chunky Soup commercials and one of the voices who replaced the late John Facenda on the NFL Films programs.

I met Mr. Kalas once at, of all places, an Indianapolis Colts game. He was everything a professional should be, and when I told the person I was talking to that Mr. Kalas was one of heroes in the broadcast booth and a great broadcaster, he simply said in his signature tones, “You’re too kind, thank you.”

Getting back on track, the dirt tracks in the Midwest are always busy during summer. And you can bet my family and I took our place in the stands.

One summer, I think it was the summer of my freshman year, my cousin, Garold, and I would climb in the back of his mom’s — also my cousin — boyfriend’s pickup and would head to a nearby race track.

With a cooler full of both adult and non-alcoholic beverages and a bag full of snacks, we headed of to see the local stars of the track.

Many times we’d come home unable to stop the ringing in our ears and get the dust off our clothes, but it was a blast.

Sunshine was always my friend, regardless of the situation. You could count on Mr. Sunshine to be both kind and unforgiving.

Spend too much time in the yard without a shirt and he would leave his angry, red revenge all over you. Mr. Sunshine must really hate bare-chested men, often leaving his burning brand on them.

He also brought out something in the female of the species as well. Mr. Sunshine drew out the women who were ready to bronze themselves with his touch. Often times it would bring out the bikini-clad mothers who thought they were still young enough to wear said bikini, as you swam at the local pool.

You couldn’t help but notice how natural beauty and otherwise was often on display in the summer sunshine.

The beauty of the world blossoms best when the sun is high, the clouds are sparse and the air is filled with a warmth you can’t replace.

For every day there was a memory tucked inside, only to be revived when the next day was born.

You can have your Christmas, you can have your snow, you can have your falling leaves. For me I’ll take sunshine mixed with a cool breeze any day of the week — and I’ll gladly take the natural beauty you can see as the best time of the year unfolds before your eyes.

Rick is a reporter with The Daily Record. He can be reached by email at rcurl@mydailyrecord.com. He can also be reached by telephone at
910-230-2037.

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