We were after magic, Diane, and me. We’d find the location that we wouldn’t be bothered by younger sisters, twin brothers, and meddling mothers. In the summer we roamed our neighborhood for a sturdy oak or my apple trees that hadn’t dropped their loot. We’d spread an old blanket, and feast on our latest library finds. Our authors included Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor Estes; moving on to Betty Cavanna and Phyllis A. Whitney as we entered our tween years. We parallel read, occasionally sharing an awesome scene. We munched on cheese and crackers, drank Tang at my house, and sneak pop at Diane’s.
School wouldn’t have probably placed us in the high reading groups because our Think and Do Books were always messed up by our teachers’ big red checkmarks indicating our comprehension indeed was poor. We also balked at writing the formula bound book report, I resorted to copying the back flaps and turning those in. But sweet Diane would have never cheated like that. Believe it or not, I didn’t get caught cheating until 6th grade. The teachers seemed to conspire every year to ruin every book by making us write about it. But at least we had CHOICE and I could read All -of- a- Kind Family, even though my family wasn’t Jewish.
But there were great times in school during the late sixties. Once we were told we all needed to write a play from a scene in a book we had read or write an original play that would be performed. Diane and I loved that assignment. We wrote two scenes together and our teacher accepted it and even pronounced it SATISFACTORY.
Reading was our life and poetry became a fast love in Junior High and beginning High School because not many authors wrote books about Hippy love (all of us curious), racial protest, Vietnam, or black armbands; I guess it was deemed inappropriate for tween eyes. It was almost like we were expected to go from childhood to War and Peace in the summer of 8th grade.
So what were we to do? Magazines of course. We devoured Sixteen and Glamour for many years. We were lucky if everyone once in a while there was a short story. I resorted to sneaking my mom’s Good Housekeeping because they always had a short story; sadly—today, they do not.
The summer of 8th grade, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, we had a stupendous idea! We spent two hours a day writing in my dad’s supposed ‘at home office’ (which was really just a storage spot for winter clothes and coats). We used at least a pound of yellow legal pads and finished writing our first book, between the winter coats, finishing before the end of the summer. The masterpiece was titled Summer Camp Love just because we loved going to summer camp. We composed together, argued about scenes and sentences, and alternated the handwriting part when our hands cramped up.
Oh, I wish I had those pages. I loved our sweet friendship— our reading and writing life together.
But those good things, those things I loved about my childhood continue on inside me forever. An SOS invitation arrives and words are breathed out and that particular happiness of shared reading /writing love springs from the deep and I am so grateful.
P.S. because I really like them… funny to me how easy it is to recall details from fifty years ago and I can’t remember where my cell phone went this morning.
What sweet memories with lovely sensory details! I enjoyed reading this so much. An old friend of mine found stories we wrote together when we were very young–they are treasures indeed!
I loved reading this! I had a kindred spirit with a girl in my class in grade school and we lived kitty-corner from each other so we spent many after school hours and weekends together. She had a closet in her bedroom that had shelving around the top of it and we would climb up there, sit on the shelves, and read to each other. We also had a secret club underneath her back porch where we often were involved in no doubt dangerous activity. One time we melted crayons over a little fire and made candles out of them. We were in constant verbal and written communication in exchanged secret notes from house to house period at my house there was a big rock by a tree at the corner of our lot and that’s where my secret notes were to be put and at her house there was a little metal box right next to her porch that she hid in the bushes and that’s where I put her notes!
My family life was a little chaotic but I could always count on my friend and our wonderful, glorious times together! Your blog reminded me of the joy and beauty of these kinds of memories and the joy they bring. Thank you!
I’m so happy to read your tale, Nanc! I can imagine writing in between the winter coats. I bet that story was magical!