Celebrating 25 years of publishing
Published August 13, 2019
Summer fun replaced by the real world
By John Toth / The Bulletin
It was a great feeling. I stood on the steps of my high school on a scorching May day and didn’t have a care in the world. The endless summer had begun.
It was a feeling of total freedom as I returned to the green world. Then fall approached, and I had to stop being in denial.
I never could get too excited about leaving the summer life to resume real responsibilities like studying, homework, making good grades (or good enough.) And the endless summer kept winding down.
We all waited silently at the bus stop. The bus was supposed to turn at the corner as it made its way to the stop, which was at a small hotel surrounded by pine trees in a small town. We had our tickets, our luggage and our long faces.
For some reason, the bus ride back to the stinking city was longer than the ride to the green world. And quieter. After three months of being employed in a summer camp, where life was simple and a lot of fun, we faced the end of the endless summer.
We made a lot of friends and had a lot of fun. We were all teen-agers, employed at different tasks that were easy and simple. We spent many nights at the Pizza Barn, hitchhiking into town, sitting on the sandy beach lakefront at nights by the fire, grilling hot dogs.
It was a teenager’s dream world.
There was no rich or poor. Everybody lived under the same conditions in bunks, except for the owner and camp director, who lived with his family in a chalet.
There was no TV except for a small black and white set in the staff lounge, and no radio if you didn’t bring one.
I took one with me each year, a small AM/FM transistor GE radio that stopped working after a dozen or so years. Then I went on eBay and found one just like it – even the same color. I still have that clone, and it is still working.
Many of the older rich kids brought their portable turntables – which at that time were not all that portable – and some good records, so there was plenty of music to be heard around the bunk area.
We didn’t care about what time it was after completing our work. We didn’t care about what day it was. On many days we had no idea – Sunday and Monday were similar. There were many weeks still left.
I experienced this setting for seven years. We bent the rules some, but not to the point of getting in trouble. What we had was just too good to ruin with some stupid mistake. But we were not perfect angels, either.
It was not reality, but a world created from the imagination of the owner, who had a pretty good time making money doing exactly what he wanted. We were the needed tools to make it happen and were rewarded with the same life as the campers, except we had jobs.
We were summer escape artists, hiding from the real world for a while, coming in touch with it only on occasion.
“Turn up the radio,” I said in the car as we headed back to camp one afternoon. “I think they said that Nixon just resigned.”
That was big news. But what was even bigger at camp was that we were getting ready for the staff soccer game against another camp – we lost, as expected.
We didn’t really care that much. We were in the green world, and it seemed summer would never end.
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