My Summertime Friend

A few months ago I purchased some decorative containers for photos that have sat in shoeboxes for much too long. Because I tend to procrastinate on projects like this, they’ve been sitting on the bookcase in hubby’s office since they arrived. As I was cleaning the office, I decided to sit down and tackle the project of putting all the photos in their new home.

I sat on the floor with shoe boxes full of photos and as I pulled them out to place them in the new photo boxes, I couldn’t help but look at some of them. So many memories were being stored in those boxes. Baby pictures, photo from our cruises, my 8th grade graduation (that was decades ago), pictures of the kids, various vacation photos and so much more.

While going sorting thru my photo treasures, I found a small photo albums I have had since my Senior year in high school. Photos of faces I recognized, but very few names I could remember. It was a reminder of that disconnect I feel in my life. However, having written names on the back of the photos, I was able to pull them out to attach names with the faces.

One photo in particular stood out to me and as I turned it over and saw her name, the memories came flooding back to me.

I was raised in a very small town. I’m not sure what the population was that many years ago, maybe around 1000, give or take a few hundred. Our elementary school housed kindergarten thru 8th grade and only one class in each grade level. Being a farming community, many of the kids were bused in from their homes in the country. The rest of us were easily able to walk to school. After all, the entire town was only about 10 – 12 blocks north to south and maybe 6-7 block east to west. Like I said, a very small town.

My summers were spent swimming at the pool in a neighboring town, hanging out with school friends, bowling at the local bowling alley, catching fireflies, and playing Midnight Ghost (hide-n-seek in the dark). In such a small town, many of our friends were our neighbors, so doing things together was very easy.

One summer my parents told me we were going to visit an older couple in town. Their son and my dad attended school together and their son and his family were in town for a visit. They had a daughter my age and a younger son. My sister and I had a wonderful visit with the kids, especially the daughter and when we left to go home, I said good-bye to a new friend.

Fortunately my new friend was staying with her grandparents for a month that summer and I was excited to have a new summertime friend. We spent our days at the park, went walks to the grocery store or dime store for candy, hung out at her grandparents or at my house playing games. I introduced her to some of my friends and included her in our summer fun, but while she was there for a visit, I spent most of my time with her. During her visit, there was a big festival – the annual village homecoming. A carnival would pull into town and we would watch as they set up and assembled the rides for the 3-day weekend event. Hundreds and hundreds of people would come to the festival for food and entertainment. The kids and some adults would buy tickets to enjoy the carnival and play the various midway games. My summertime friend and I would spend our afternoons and evenings going from ride to ride, eating popcorn, cotton candy, and corn dogs or just walking thru the midway stopping every once in awhile to throw darts at balloons or tossing rings at bottles in hopes of walking away with a prize. We even made friends with one of the kids of the carnival owner. What a different world I lived in!

From that summer on, I looked forward to seeing my summertime friend. We would catch up on the past year and continue on as if we hadn’t been apart. However, as we got older and found new interests, her visits became shorter and eventually ended altogether. We wrote letters to each other during the years, but even the letters became fewer and fewer. In one of our last letter exchanges, we included a copy of our senior pictures. Her picture was placed on the first page on my little photo album but as the year went on, the letters stopped and we both moved on with our lives.

Maybe one day our paths will cross again, but my memories of summers spent with my childhood friend will remain.

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