Monday, September 6, 2010

The Long Hot Summer

Every Labor Day reminds me of watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon. My Mom loved watching this show because we would see all kinds of big stars. In the 70's you would see big bands with Jerry conducting. Jerry would have people on like Norm Crosby, Elayne Boosler, Bob Zany, Chad Everett, Joey Bishop, Casey Kasem, Tony Orlando, Sammy Davis, Liberace and even a visit from Frank Sinatra. I would watch that segment with the sick kid asking the audience to donate. As a little kid this touched me and I wanted to help. I asked my Mom "can we call and donate something?" and she would always say "we don't have money for that".

When I was a kid Labor Day meant that school was gonna start soon. Back then we would get out the beginning of June and go back 2nd week of September. It was a nice long break, but it always went too fast for us of course. You would see all these back to school ads on TV. Both my brother Mike and I would moan when we would see these. It meant that we had to take advantage of the time we had left. My Mom would have to take us to get some new clothes which she could barely afford. Most years it was just a couple of Corduroy pants and a new pair of shoes. She was a single Mom and as she would say, "I can barely pay the phone bill". We didn't always get help from my Dad. Finances were very tight, but Mom would never tell us what was going on with it.

Growing up in Sherman Oaks, California in the 70's was interesting this time of the year. It was hot. I'm not kidding it was frigging hot as hell. We had no air conditioning. I'm thinking even a fan was too much of a luxury, I don't recall us having a fan. Mostly when it was that hot Mike and I would be outside playing with the hose or squirt guns or sitting in the shade somewhere.

We had to entertain ourselves, there was nothing to do or anything Mom was gonna give us to do. We were on our own. Movies? Mom would say, "I don't have money for that" Ice cream? no, a cold soda? no. Have a glass of milk and a peanut butter sandwich, she would say. If we stayed in the house too long she would say "go outside and blow the stink off of you".

One of the classic moments of the summer I remember was during the Labor Day Weekend. It's over a hundred degrees. We are outside with the hose on the sidewalk in front of the house on Fulton Avenue. It's late in the afternoon. The sun is high in the sky on it's way in a short time to travel behind our apartment building. The shadows are long and everything has the orange color of a hot day. After hours of running around out of breath from getting wet, we lay down on the hot wet sidewalk.

I remember putting my head down on the concrete and my arms by my sides. Just my swim trunks on. The sun is shining on my face and I could feel the hot and wet concrete. We let the hose run near by to keep it cool. Looking up at the sky I remember feeling soo good. That cool water and that hot sidewalk. Looking back now it's soo amazing to think that I didn't have a care in the world. Just laying there was the best feeling.

This front lawn in the summer was populated with kids, lots of them. The apartment we lived in was the only one on the street, it was a three unit triplex. There was a huge apartment complex about 5 blocks away, but mostly this was a neighborhood with houses and home owners. We were the poor kids on the block. Lots of show biz people in this area. I went to school with a lot of them.

This is a photo of my brother Mike at age 7 in 1971 on the front lawn of 5141 Fulton Avenue.

The weekend ended one year with ripping up the front lawn with a slip and slide. Undoubtedly one of the funnest times I remember as a kid. After a few hours of soaking the slip and slide and the lawn we had a huge puddle of mud! I can't believe the parents let us do it.

Then, one year the neighbors and Mike and I had a hours long water balloon and hose fight that went all the way around the building. I don't think I have ever had such fun and laughed that much. Simple summer fun.

I love that it's fall. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Can we go straight to January after that, just for this year? I would love that.

I'll close with my brothers favorite departing message... Peace, Love, and Tesla.

- JP


  1. So many summer memories came flooding back for me Jp. Thanks for sharing yours.


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