A lot of what I write about draws from personal experiences. Usually those experiences don’t translate precisely onto the page, but rather are selected pieces that fit a particular story line. Since I grew up in the fifties and sixties, when life was so-o-o-o very different for children, the activities and environments would seem alien to today’s kids, but there’s a commonality to experiences of being a child surrounded by other children and learning social skills through that medium.
With summer on the horizon, I started thinking about my summers as a child. From age six to age twelve I spent four weeks of every summer (last two weeks of July, first two weeks of August) at Camp Yowochas, in Grafton, NY, and one or two with my cousins in Valley Falls, NY. They were idyllic times.
Camp was structured, which didn’t always fit my personality. But I met kids from far and wide–places as far away (to me) as Long Island and even California. And, it turned out, many of those same girls reappeared in my life in high school. That was when I began to understand the concept of “it’s a small world.”
The weeks with my cousins were completely unstructured, but never boring. We’d spend whole days riding our bikes around the village (never past the Post Office! was the rule), playing our own game called Wild Goose Chase, various forms of hide-and-seek, plodding through the woods, chasing butterflies with a net (and, I’m embarrassed to admit, killing them in a jar and adding them to my collection). ALL unaccompanied by adults. And no one worried about our safety. Evenings we’d lie in the grass and view stars and chase lightning bugs. All pretty idyllic compared to today. Of course, it was the height of the Cold War, and the frequent air raid drills at school drove my mind to believe that the Russians were going to bomb us any day now – to the point that my heart raced every time a plane flew overhead for a number of years. Still, they were good times for growing up.
Any photos that survived from Valley Falls vacations are tucked in an album somewhere, I think at my brother’s house. But photos from Camp Yowochas resurfaced a few years ago.
Simpler times–so different from today.