Thursday, April 23, 2015

Two of the best times of my life growing up (part II, Summer of Sam)


Alas, The other best time of my life growing up was my summer at the Pineforrest campground in New Jersey. For some reason, my aunt Carol took me and my sister for 2 weeks without my parents and it was the indeed the second most amazing time of my youth. It was the summer before 6th grade, and the Summer of Sam, when Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, was terrorizing New York City.

Pineforrest was an institution in our extended family. My Aunt Vera and her family spent their summers there and other relatives as well. For some reason, my dad drove me and my sister down to South Jersey that summer and left us there. We stayed in a cabin with my Aunt Carol and my cousin Kathy, and sometimes Tommy I think, and my grandmother. Again, I was in that special time of life where everything gets retained, adolescence, when your brain is so open and porous. This is what I remember.

The water smelled like eggs and it rained for the entire time. My grandmother Nanny explained that it would indeed rain for 40 days because the Pope died or maybe she wondered if the pope died since it had rained for 40  days.

I was asked to wash the dishes one night and me and a friend to threw them away instead.

I came and went as I wanted and no one bugged me, which was beautiful. I spent the days running wild and free, unsupervised, barefoot, and thrilled, catching baby frogs with my hands, swimming in the eggy lake and just having fun. I stayed out late each night with the older kids listening to songs on the jukebox with a soundtrack limited to Clapton’s “You Look Wonderful Tonight” and Ram Jam’s “Black Betty”.  We would just hang out till late in the cool night air. One night it started pouring on us and we were all running top speed in the black night to get some cover and my legs hit a fence, mid thigh, and I was catapulted into the air. I did not want to be left alone in the night so I put out my arms and managed some gymnastic flip as my legs flew over my head and back down to the ground and I kept running with the pack. I always kept up with the gang.

I got a crush on an older guy, he was probably 3 or 4 grades older than me. I forget his name. He noticed that I liked him and explained to me that I was just a kid, which was the most devastating rejection of my life.

One night we went “drinking”, which meant drinking Rolling Rocks by the river. I tried to get through one, and was not loving it. But it was great to be included. I loved feeling part of a gang and included.

I slept in a triple bunk bed and banged my head each morning when I sat up.

Lastly, Aunt Vera and her husband Gerard very generously took us to Atlantic City when it was still an amusement park type boardwalk. (Thank you both!) We went under the water in a diving bell and got scared when they acted like there was trouble getting us back up. We saw a woman turn into an ape and break free and charge the crowd, and we all ran out of the venue like we were supposed to. We went on rides and ate ice cream and waffles and really lived it up, which I never really did in real life back home. Everything was so magical. Incidentally, The Daily News front page that day was the sketch of Son of Sam and it was everywhere we looked.

At some point my father picked us up and I cried as we drove back home. Again it was the generosity of my Aunt Carol who agreed to watch us which made it all possible. Thanks again Aunt Carol. I miss you and love you. xHolly

(Almost two weeks ago I wrote about the TWO of the best times of my life growing up. I got through the first story http://hollyramoswrites.blogspot.com/2015/04/two-of-best-times-of-my-life-growing-up.html
and promised to finish the second the next day only to get distracted with current events.)

Then there was this:

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