Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Those Boring Summer Days

Contrary to popular belief, Struthers, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown, was not always an exciting place to live. Especially for a school-age kid in the sixties and seventies. As much as we celebrated the end of a school year and the beginning of Summer vacation, within about two weeks, most of the kids in my neighborhood were bored to tears.

All of us kids seemed to go through spurts of different activities. Someone would come up with an idea and by acclimation, the group decided if it was worthy of wasting an afternoon doing it.We always had the old stand-bys of going to Fifth Street Park and hanging out and playing Washers or go hiking through Yellow Creek Park or maybe fishing at Hamilton Lake.

One boy's father made him a pair of stilts out of a split two by four with triangle wood wedges for footrests. We all faked admiration to his dad about what great workmanship he did on the stilts and before you knew it, he made a pair of stilts for every boy on the street that wanted them. For a good two weeks, we became Stilt- Walkin' Fools! Up and down the street, in and out of driveways, across yards, and even up concrete steps. After many scraped knees, bumps on the Noggins,(before Bike Helmets), and countless races, the stilts began collecting dust in the corners of our garages.

By the time I hit the junior high years, we neighborhood boys apparently had reached an intellectual phase. He started getting into board games every afternoon on some body's porch. Risk, Mouse Trap, Monopoly, and Scrabble were just some of the few we played. Jeopardy! was probably the group favorite with it's little "Cricket" clicker you used to signal you had an answer. Within a couple of weeks, everyone had memorized the answers and it wasn't fun any more. Time to break out a different game.

Many of us took up golf and learned the game while caddying at Tippecanoe Country Club. Many an afternoon was spent at Countryside Golf Course playing as much golf as daylight would allow. It was fairly cheap to play there. The course was in it's early days of being constructed and part of the hazards was an occasional cow on a fairway. I do remember bouncing a golf shot off a silo on the ninth hole and the ball landing about three feet from the hole. Every dime we made caddying was spent on green fees and golf equipment.

During our pre-driving years, most of the neighborhood kids walked to Struthers' Municipal Swimming Pool, better know as "The Birdbath", down at the bottom of Wetmore Hill. A huge circular pool with a fenced-in diving platform in the center. The chlorine was so strong that if you opened your eyes under water, they would sting and be red for days. All the Little Leaguers were forbidden to swim on game days and the red eyes were a dead give-away to your coach if you had been to the pool.

By the time we got our driver's licenses, the world became our oyster. All though most of us were restricted to staying within the city limits by our parents, trips to Cincinnati that was five hours away or a one hour trip to Pittsburgh, were not uncommon. We just pooled our gas money and hit the road. It was nice when gas was 32 cents a gallon. If our parents only knew we would still be grounded.

It's funny now, thirty years later when I bump into some one from the old neighborhood. Many a conversation begins with,"Remember the time...". Yes, I DO remember the times. Looking back on some of the best times of my life that I thought then, were the Boring Days of Summer. We made our fun and created memories we will always cherish and tell our kids about.


  1. Those were the days, when at the end of the day you couldn't really put your finger on a single thing that you did, but it was still a good day. Our parents used to get furious at us if we said, "I'm bored." One time Mrs. Balestrino told us, "Go count cars if you're bored." So we did. We made a game out of it, counting different colors of cars or something.

    "Those were the days" is what I always want to say after reading your blog. :)