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Summer Memories Stories
Streetplay is happy to announce Judy Lawrence as the winner of our "Summer Memories Contest." Judy will receive a Streetplay 50/50 prize - A $50 American Express Travelers Cheque and $50 donated to a children's charity of her choice.

We received a lot of entries for this contest and were not able to post them all. Below please see Judy's story and some of the other entries we received as well.


"Heat from the Heat"
by Judy

Growing up in Melbourne, Florida in the 1950s was a hot proposition. With no air conditioning, bed sheets felt damp and suffocating the instant my head hit the pillow.

One sweltering evening I woke up and headed for the least oven-like spot I knew - the wraparound porch. It wasn't screened in so a breeze occasionally cooled my sweaty body. Dragging my pillow, I chose a spot on the front porch. The boards were hard but at least 15-degrees below my bed temperature, and I slept peacefully through the night.

When it was barely light out, I felt the nudge of someone's foot, and found myself surrounded by police. To my surprise, the entire family had the same idea I did - mom, dad, mamaw, Uncle Edo and my brother Steve were fast asleep on the porch. With all those bodies sprawled out willy-nilly, a neighbor had reported the possible murder of the entire family! After the sleepy confusion passed, we had to promise the sheriff that we wouldn't sleep on the porch again - at least not the front porch.

Notable Mentions:

"My Amazing Summer"
by Frank

I am thirteen this summer. Kips Bay Boys and Girls club is my new league. This pitcher sure seems close. But I am an All-star; no problem. You see, my first time up, and I get on base.

As it turns out this would be my last time on base....for the entire summer! I struck out, and struck out. So much so I went home crying. Now I am on the bench, and they're afraid to put ME in the games.

But I don't give up. I love this game. We are in first place, the Mets are whipping everyone. I am showing up to the park.

As fate would have it we are in the world series against Soundview. The coach promised he would let me get one at bat. With confidence low, and Juan pitching I was patient. Then it happens!

Down by 1 with two outs in the 6th inning and Eddie Conde at 2nd base I stand up and say, "coach you promised I could get up today." He stared at me with uncertainty. The whole world was in shock when they heard me. They all stared back at coach hoping he would say not now. I guess he couldn't disappoint that 13 year old kid because he yelled "Chris, I'm letting Frank bat up!" You can hear the whole world sigh but I ran and got my helmet.

Oh no! What am I doing Juan is pitching. I think he could sense it because he smiled at me. He knew it was lights out. This got me angry. He fires that first pitch.. I swing as hard as I could and...nothing but air!

I just put my poker face, showed no fear, and got ready again. Here is the pitch. Its a rock, no it's a baseball, no, it's a watermelon. The pitch came in slow motion. I swung as hard as I could, then came the thunderous "clink"

Back, back, back, back, the left fielder is tapping his glove, back, back, and over the 236ft sign. Eddie Conde is going crazy!! Everybody in Kips Bay hears the commotion. I am rounding 2nd. My team is waiting for me to get home. I finally arrive to helmet slaps, butt smacks, and punches everywhere. We go on to win this game and the world series. Even the 15 to 17 year old heard about me. This was my amazing summer (and of course the Mets win too)

Because of this one chance by the coach, to this very day at age 29 I still love and play the game. Thanks coach; wherever you are.

"Keeping cool"
by Patricia

Home made ice cream is my favorite summer memory. Mom would mix the ingredients and dad would get the freezer ready. The cylinder of ice cream mix would be put into the hand cranked freezer and ice and salt packed around it. Being the youngest in the group I got the best job...sitting on the freezer to keep it from jumping around while dad and the other adults cranked the handle until it would turn no more. Then we would all get to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

"Fond Memories"
by James

I always looked forward to the summer, because we were able to play so many different games. We were off from school for two month's and the beaches were opened, the roller skates came out of the closet, we built scooter's from old milk crates, we played with the pee shooter's, carpet guns and we could play on the roof's (Tar Beach) flew kite's, built pigeon coops and slept on the fire-escapes. Summer was the time of the year, that I could remember my best memories of my childhood years.

"The one that got away"
by Helen

When I was about 5 years brother was the first one on the block to get a kite that wasn't shaped like the traditional "diamond shape".It was a BOX kite (oh wow!).We lived right across the street from a HUGE slate dump...he was flying his precious kite and Mom told me to tell him to "Come home and get your jacket on.". He told me to "hold this kite and don't even THINK about letting go." can guess it.....I let it go....still don't know why....right over the Monongahela river it flew and never was found! I don't think he's ever forgiven me for that...and that was 51 years ago! REALLY!

"Summer Love and The Roomie From Hell"
by Denise

Like many youth from the other borough, Manhattan was always the mecca, the mountain to peak before facing the rest of the world and your life. I moved there in my late teens, on my own. When I got a passport and went international I no longer was a full time New Yorker. I spent the winters in Miami and summers in Europe and New York where I became the part-time roommate of a great friend Daniel from Poland. He and I got along fabulously. We traveled through Eastern Europe and the states together. We had the same international tastes in boyfriends and girlfriends. We just didn't "date" each other. We both loved salsa and any percussion bands, so we'd go to SOB's and Drums(back then), and anywhere live bands performed we'd be there, dancing together and with everyone... jammin' till the break of dawn. We loved the same spicy foods, Vincent's in Little Italy for hot Calamari or to Chinatown on Catherine between East Broadway and Henry for vegetables and rice noodles. It's amazing how inexhaustible our energy was. "Joie de vivre" unlimited.

One day, I took Daniel's 1971 Buick station wagon for a day out with nine of my closest girlfriends, (since I was the only one in the crew with a driver's license). Daniel was away at work until late and I thought it would be cool to cruise down to Jones Beach and where ever the wind would take us. We swam, cruised around Long Island visiting relatives of some of the girls, and finally we stopped at Bloomingdales for a quick shop.

After I dropped the girls off and tried to hustle back home to a decent parking spot. I stopped at a corner Bodega on Avenue A. and bought a few snacks and juice. Hurrying, I inadvertantly caught the back left tip of a brand new Audi with this '71 hunk of steel. Scared, but responsible, I jumped out of the car to assess the damage and exchange information. But a moment later several guys ran out of the building with guns in their hands headed straight for me. I jumped back into the car and sped out of there so quick, hands shaking like crazy.

On my block surprising, the spot I'd left hours ago was still available, minus a feet or two which was easy to remedy with a few nudges from the solid piece of steel that I was driving. I parked that thing, put the car keys on the fridge and played like like everything was normal when Daniel came home.

The next day I was skating in some NYU video down in the Wall Street area (it was Sunday), when I got a call at the site from Daniel. He told me to get home.. NOW!!! I jumped on the train and walked in sheepishly to find Daniel towering over me, shaken and his face beet-red. Very quietly and strained he asked if I'd taken the car out when he was gone the day before. "No", I lied. He screamed the question the next time and I spewed my confession out with buckets of tears. He informed me that several Latino guys had knocked on his door and shoved a gun in his mouth telling him that they didn't like people trying to get away with a hit-and-run. They gave him an address to show up at 6:00 that evening, or else. I told him that I would go there and take care of everything since it was my fault.

I put on a nice flowing black dress (seemed appropriate for impending doom) and headed to the address with Daniel. We had since calmed our nerves with a few shots of Stoli. When we reached the building, the same guys with the guns lead us into the apartment to a handsome young Puerto Rican Italian guy who spoke both Spanish and Italian fluently, dressed very professional and wore a bright toothy smile. He looked at me like I was lunch.

"I know you, you're that girl I'm always seeing skating all over the city in those "hot" gold speedos. I'm always telling my boys about you, I've been dying to meet you." "You're like some fantasy that pops up out of nowhere." He grabbed me like I was an old lover; and when I looked up into his eyes and felt all that brawn around me... why not?

I apologized about the car and told him that Daniel had nothing to do with it. He said that since it was me, he would just call it into his insurance as a hit-and-run and not to worry. He invited Daniel and I out to gourmet meal on the upper west side, since I was already dressed for the occasion. We went out dancing afterwards, and fell madly in love (at least until I got the itch to travel again. David apologized to Daniel for the gun incident and shoved a few bills in his pocket for the inconvenience.

To this day Daniel won't forgive me for that. But I'll always love my ol' roomie.

"Berry Patch"
by Rachel

Every girl remembers their first "boyfriend". You know, that guy in first grade that asked if you wanted to be his girlfriend, and you couldn't think of a good reason not to be?

My "first love" was so sweet. During the summers, he would come to my house on Saturday morning and we would spend the whole day playing together. One particular Saturday, he told me he had a surprise for me, and we headed toward my neighbors back yard, where there was a particularly nasty Doberman/shepherd guarding a berry patch. Behind the berry patch, there was a fenced enclosure grown up with weeds and huge (no longer producing) berry canes. He crawled on hands and knees ahead of me through the patch, valiantly fending off thorns and thistles, and all the way promising the reward would be worth it. Finally, we arrived at a fence at the back of the berries, safely out of reach of the dog, but surrounded by ripe, perfect berries.The berries were even better, because, although we justified having them because we weren't on my neighbors property, we both knew we had beat the Doberman security system to indulge in perfection. That day in first grade, I found out that boys really could be your knight in shining armor.

"Deep Waters"
by Lauren

I fondly recall being asked what my favorite summer memory was every fall upon our first return to school. Each year, my favorite memory of that past summer remained the same. In fact, my favorite summer memory went on to be my favorite childhood memory now some 30 years later and I am again, happy to share with everyone.

It was once or twice every summer when we were lucky enough to take a special trail ride on the horses who we had taken riding lessons on earlier that Saturday morning. This treat for both horse and rider involved a bareback ride, a hot day and a pond at the end of a trail in the woods. Imagine the initial surprise and the absolute delight the first time our trusted riding instructor lead us through those trails and up to the edge of a pretty and secluded pond, only the ride didn't end there. Confidently riding ahead of us in "follow me" fashion, the ride continued into the pond itself! Bareback, she rode ahead as her horse happily splashed in the water, wetting his legs, then underbelly, then either side of his chest as my instructor's toes first touched the water!

Imagine our shock at seeing her then become engulfed by the pond as horse and rider together sank in one sudden step into the now swirling patches of duck weed and dark merky pond water. All that remained to be seen above water were two heads and the rider's shoulders down to the middle of her chest where her arms poked out of the water showing how her hands held on tight to the horse's mane, the horse was now actually swimming!!!! After much laughter and initial confusion we followed and there began the greatest experience of my childhood. I believe this will in retrospect turn out to be my fondest summer memory of a lifetime!

I remember the unsure progression downward as my pony stepped forward and followed. The sensation of the cool water slowly rising up around my legs continued until that final teetering moment of uncertainty when we momentarily plunged the bobbed up again his steps lost their footing and became underwater strokes. I was "swimming on horseback"! While clinging tightly to the mane with my hands, staying aboard a wet, swimming horse's back suddenly become a new skill to be instantly learned! Always one move behind, I compensated for each of the horse's motions, mostly balancing to stay on but sometimes holding as tight as I could with my legs until they slipped, gaining just one moment of security before it was again lost. I remember catching myself this way with each and every stride before I would have slipped off to one side. It was very hard to stay aboard! Ahead of me, the only visable part of my pony's head was the forward surface of his face, the uppermost half managed to stay above water line rather surely, from his ears down to his flaring and snorting nostrils. Our movement went steadily forward as he stroked rhythmically with each of his four legs, making a wiggle-worm movement with his back as each leg thrust forcefully below us.

Around and around we swam! Laughing and squealing in delight we rode somewhat dismayed! Imagine the fun the instructor shared in joining two children of 10 and 12 for such a raucous ride! Then, as we all tired, we spotted our leader approach the gradual spot where we had first gone in. Avoiding more abrupt and rocky exits elsewhere around the pond, we watched her horse near the pond's safe edge. The motion changed from the slow, gradual, wiggling strokes to suddenly much more abrupt, lurching motions as the horse took his first sound step and literally climbed out of the water, with soaking wet rider, dripping clothes and all. This is where we saw her grab ever more tightly to the mane as a more complete freedom of the reins remained a necessity. Once they clambered out, we began our jerky ascents. But what we had not anticipated was the furious shaking motions the horses would make once on solid ground, trying their best to shake the water off their backs with us still aboard! Nothing I know of could better elicit the kind of breathless laughter we experienced as all three horses repeated this shaking at the same time! I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to enjoy these experiences every summer throughout my childhood, just 40 minutes north of New York City in horse country.

"Family Matters"
by Linda

My favorite summer memories are camping at a local lake wih my (now grown) children when they were young. We had fun with water balloons, fishing, canoeing, and cooking on a campfire. We went on nature walks and discovered frogs, snakes and birds. I don't think we minded the heat so much when we were having so much fun exploring. The cost was minimal but my kids will have those memories forever."

"Escape to Sheepshead Bay "
by Judy

Summer's swelter--
with Mom's perennial pother
over our dining-room table,
its flawless sheen;
all winter she's suffused it in rose oil,
massaged its back
(maybe more than Dad's);
but in the heat,
it weeps big unctuous tears.
Dad pats Mom's arm as he
shuffles us toward the car.

Minutes south of our Brooklyn stoop,
we reach Sheepshead Bay
where the sea breeze
frosts the sky ice-cube blue.
We could be in erstwhile Amsterdam
but for the whiff of diesel:
Square white boxes
that hover above water like fat stilts;
tiny cottages tethered
by a web of burrowed alleyways.

I dangle night-crawlers by a wire handle
like Chinese carryout;
Dad wriggles one onto my hook
leaving a perfect loop of enticing tail.
We lob our lines in slow and easy
like opening pitches at Ebbet's Field
until the sun does its slide.

we swing a right on the way home,
to ruin our appetites
with foot-longs from Nathan's--
No use facing Mom hungry.

"Cooking Lesson"

by Patti

When I was eleven years old , I spent every day swimming at my friend Rose's above ground pool. The only stipulation was that each day Rose and I would have to prepare dinner for Rose's family which consisted of her parents and six other siblings.

One day we were put in charge of making the spaghetti and meatballs. This consisted of browning the meatballs and letting the meal slowly braise for one hour and thirty minutes at the oven temperature of 350 degrees. In my over zealous youthful calculations I deducted that by doubling the oven temperature we could reduce the cooking time by half, unfortunately cooking does not work this way, we learned a very hard lesson that day when we checked the meal and found everything burnt.

"Lucky Ten"
by Barbara

Ten always has been my magic number, and no summer was more magic than my tenth. Reaching double-digits came with new and exciting privileges-- riding PTC (pre-SEPTA) busses unsupervised, shopping with friends-- and stimulating discoveries (I knew my mom loved to read, but I really began to appreciate her literary tastes when I found they included Henry Miller). It was a hot summer in many ways.

My slowly burgeoning adolescent view of the world sharpened my senses, making for indelible memories. I can taste still the cool, smooth orange sherbet I proudly walked up to the Nosherai, dime in sweaty hand, to buy... or the cold, tangy, lemon-lime ginsers (swim club name for water ice) whose cups I licked clean while waiting for my bathing suit to fill out. I watched the older girls for hours on end until I could join the line dance to "Candy Girl." I collected charms from bubblegum machines. I fell in love with Gary Lockhart (of TV's "The Lieutenant"). I shared secrets with Babara Dash (the musky, woodsy scent of late summer is the smell of the back of her garage). I longingly/fearfully anticipated the start of junior high.

Now, a trip to a too-cool supermarket takes me spinning back to my first family food-buying excursions, responsibly trailing up and down the aisles of the neighborhood A&P in search of items on my mother's market list. At ten, I had forgotten how to do the diamond stitch for lanyards, a skill acquired the summer before, but I perfected weaving potholders and long knitted snakes created on a four-pronged plastic tube (what WERE they called?). I discovered, in Leni Moscow, the bittersweet pleasures of having a summers-only friend. Oh! And I got my first Barbie.

The Orleans TWIN Theater opened that summer. It was a revoluntionary place for its time, showing two movies simultaneously. If you were daring (well, it was a big deal if you were a basically honest kid), you could sneak into both for the price of one, which gave you the chance to get a HUGE movie headache if they were running double features. The theater was all clean and brand new (I was allowed to take the bus with a friend to get there), and unlike all the other theaters I had inhabited, this one didn't have a curtain. Rather, it had this kind of futuristic, receding shadow-box effect into which (it seemed at the time) movies were projected. This non-screen was a bright blue-- the same blue that comes up on the opening and closing segments of Bye Bye Birdie when Ann-Margret sang. Which may be why I was seduced and intoxicated by the whole movie and why I only need to hear the first beats of the movie's theme to be ten-years-old again.

Experts say that children are maturing younger these days, but it may be kids today merely are vocalizing, not having, their double-digit epiphanies earlier than we did. I hid mine away in a cherished place in my heart-- to hold, to share like carefully wrapped mementoes revealed from an lovingly careworn chest. Ten was a summer of such revelation (including my first taste of death, ironically, just before Kennedy's assassination) and such happiness that at times, I feel like it is the place in my life where I stopped growing. I learned everything I needed to know in those three short months.

"Right of passage"
by Mike

My best summer story happened every summer night. It was when I got old enough to go down to Chief's candy store on 16th St and 4th Ave and pick up the evening paper, instead of my father. It was a right of passage, standing there with GROWN MEN waiting until the papers were tossed onto the curbside, then picking them up and bringning them inside.

"Northern Exposure"

by Frank

It was the summer of 1952. I was in the U. S. Army in an outfit that was sent to Alaska. Yes we were there to work, but we also did a lot of playing, exploring, fishing and just plain enjoying our surroundings. And it was far, far better than the alternative of being shot at over in Korea.

"Camp Fun"
by Jane

During the summer of 75 I was Camp Director of FUN CLUB at our Union, N.J. branch of the YMCA. We took about 100 pre-teenagers on an overnight trip to The Four Seasons camp out in the boonies! Needless, to say, they had fun... these campers decided to go on a hike, but before going we all used the out house. Everyone got OUT except me. They locked me in this smelly, tilted on a hill, hole in the ground and proceeded to throw rocks through the moon in the door. After begging for my release, they let me out and tied me to the nearest tree. They went on the hike and upon their return, released me once again. Well, being the sport that I am, we all laughed.

That evening upon retiring to our tents, we didn't realize that the place was infested with ticks(big ones, not deer ticks that would not have been too funny. The evening became chaotic when after sleeping for a few hours someone noticed the ticks were nesting in our skin. Now they needed me! It was payback time. I let them scream a bit and told them I would help them get them out. (YOU suffocate them with Vaseline) Only I knew the remedy.....We had so much fun. No hard feelings....of course that's what camp is all about. I continued working until the 80's and got to see these kids grow up. It was great and if I win, I'd like the charity to be this YMCA still exists and they are still going to The Four Seasons Camp grounds.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.....

ps. I married the counsellor who's idea it was to tie me to the tree...what's wrong with that picture....



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