Heat

Heat

A Chapter by Wendy Seames Garner
"

After spending the day in the water, my entire back was blistered.

"

Thinking about heat, I am transported back in time. Nat King Cole is playing on the radio, “Roll out those, lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer...” I'm lying on my parents bed, waiting for my turn in the only bathroom - with a family of seven, that could be a long wait. I am feeling sick, nauseous from the heat. Dad says I should take salt pills, so I don't sweat out all the water in my body.


I grew up in Michigan during the 50's and 60's. Michigan is the state that looks like your hand. If you look just below the thumb, in the middle, that's where I lived. Surrounded by all that water, Michigan can get pretty hot and humid in the summer. One hundred percent humidity is not uncommon. We usually get a couple of days each summer that are near or above the one hundred degree mark. In winter we go to the other extreme.


We had a big two-story house that was over a century old. That meant no insulation and we didn't have air-conditioning either. My bedroom was on the second floor; the only access to air, through a door that led out onto a balcony. Heat rises; so the upstairs was a virtual oven in the summer. In order to stave off the heat, every morning mom would shut the windows and pull the heavy lined drapes tightly closed. The thought being, this would keep the cool night air in and the hot daytime air out. It wasn't very efficient, but with all the windows opened at night and a couple of box fans in the windows, drawing in the refreshing air, we got by.


Trying to find some relief, and a little sleep, we would sometimes camp out on the living room or dining room floor. The wooden floors felt cool, until they were warmed by your body heat, then you had to move and find another cool spot. I had a sleepover for my eleventh birthday and the living room floor is where we all ended up. We started out the night in a tent in the side yard - the tent filled with stacks of comic books belonging to my brother's friend. When a thunderstorm threatened, we moved inside, and though the temperature dropped, the humidity was oppressing.


Another way my parents tried to escape the heat was to go camping at a nearby campground at least one or two weeks every summer. Dad would leave camp early in the morning, go to his job as a rural mail carrier, and return to the campground in the afternoon. Mom was stuck there alone with five children all day - she had never learned to drive. 


It was cooler there in the shady campground, but we couldn't wait to get to the beach.  Carrying towels, beach toys and a cooler, we all started hiking, thoughts of the icy water drawing us onward. Upon arriving at the beach, we found that the sun reflecting off the sand just made it all the hotter. Tiptoeing into the freezing water, we debated whether to dive right in or wait until we were accustomed to the temperature.  Pretending to be a mermaid, I languished the day away - not coming out of the water for anything. There would be a price to pay for this; my skin, being fair, it burned easily. 


These were the days before sunblock. We had tanning lotion - the kind advertised by the little tan girl with her diaper being pulled down by the dog, revealing the white skin underneath - but it did little for my fair skin. Besides, I wouldn't get out of the water to eat, I sure as heck wasn't going to bother getting out to put on tanning lotion. After spending the day in the water, my entire back was blistered. Have you ever tried sleeping on the ground in an old army sleeping bag with a blistered back? Although the night was cool, my back was on fire!


We may not have had air-conditioning in our house or car, but the movie theater did! Every Friday night, after receiving my allowance, I would walk the couple of blocks downtown with a friend. Handing over my thirty-five cents - 50 cents when I got older - I was able to enjoy a couple hours of cool bliss. I can't even recall all the movies I watched, but I do remember seeing Gone With the Wind, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Romeo and Juliet, and I saw Elvis, in Viva Las Vegas, twice.


We spent a lot of summer days at the park where, although it was still hot, we could cool off by sitting on the bridge and dangling our feet in the rushing water of the river. There was a huge willow tree at the park, with branches just perfect for perching in. My friend, Ruth, and I spent a lot of time in that tree, giggling and whispering secrets. No trip to the park was complete without a trip to the ice cream parlor up on top of the hill. I usually bought a strawberry ice cream cone, the icy-cold cone melting quickly into a sticky mess that dripped down my chin and arms. One trip on the merry-go-round and up that cone would come, it happened every time.


Back then, everyone had their milk delivered to their doors by the milkman. He drove around in a truck, the milk being cooled by chunks of ice. In the summer we would follow him around, begging for ice. Being a nice guy, he would toss the ice to the ground. We ran to pick it up and suck on it. People now will cringe at the idea of all those germs, but here I am today - still alive.


Yes, my childhood years were unbearably hot. Summers just don't seem so hot to me now; we have air-conditioned homes, cars, stores and workplaces - most of us anyway. So when I think of heat, I think of summers, growing up in Michigan during the 50's and 60's.



© 2017 Wendy Seames Garner


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Featured Review

I remember everything you've said...I remember heat like a blanket...like a wall you could almost lean against. I also remember Andy Williams singing about those "lazy, crazy days of summer", though I suppose Nat King Cole did it too. My husband once said he wouldn't every live in a house without airconditoning. I reminded him that we had both grown up without it, and he explained that "It wasn't as hot back then."

Posted 8 Years Ago


4 of 4 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I love how you can remember your childhood that well. Great story.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Diane

5 Years Ago

Maybe when you have more in there we can get them in hardback for the kids on Amazon!!
Wendy Seames Garner

5 Years Ago

I don't think they had that when I wrote these.
Diane

5 Years Ago

Yes. Amazon you can publish anything. You can even make money off people buying your books.
I love the description of the huge Willow tree I can see it now...... remind me of my childhood. We didnt have much, yet they were, happy long summer days.... Although the humidity sounded unbearable, I bet you would nt of wanted it any other way either :) A lovely nostalgc write thank you :)


Posted 7 Years Ago


Nat King Cole..... you start with great style. I was captured and lost in your story very good read. Thanks for posting

Posted 7 Years Ago


A lovely cameo on a lost age, but at least you have it cooler now with the air conditioning. have you ever thought of recoding your remoirs on a DVD? People would be fascinated in years to come.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

7 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the review Great Aunt Astri! No, I have never thought of putting my memoirs on D.. read more
Expressed eloquently how you faced the reality of life in the past and compared with the present condition.
Reminds me of the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and movies based on her stories.The Little House series was my favorite thing when it was telecast in our TV.
The condition you described is still experienced by many in the world.As time goes by,technology may give some comfort to a certain fraction of world population.But,the greater percentage of population are still facing the same or worse conditions.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful write which depicted your troubles and also the ways how you coped with the situation.You have also painted the picture how you enjoyed your time in sea water,on the tree,
and sitting on the bridge and dangling your feet in the rushing water of the river.
Oh,those nostalgic days!


Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Zainui! I am honored that my story reminds you of Laura.. read more
zainul

8 Years Ago

You are most welcome,dear friend.:)
I am very pleased to know that Laura Ingalls Wilder profou.. read more
Wendy,
I grew up in IL and then FL. We never had air conditioning in IL. My dad would blanket the living room off and plug in that tiny window unit when Fl got to be too much. We would all pile into that room and fight for the spot that might get blown on. Summers spent in the local high school pool were amazing, burnt skin and all. The sharp tang of chlorine will zap me back in time! Nothing like the freedom I felt back then. Love this nostalgic piece. Angi~

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the review, Angi! I'm glad that my story was able to back a few memories of your.. read more
so that is why your writing is so hot! You have taken the art of memoir and made something very interesting out of it. Captured incidents, thoughts and feelings so well. I loved reading about your childhood home, and of you following the milkman. My twin and I once helped our milk man do his round, we sat on the back of the van, jumped off and ran to doorsteps with the milk, at the end of the morning we were expected a reward of say...money or a bottle of his orange juice, it was a very hot day. Instead he handed us both an Egg. It disapointed us, but where the memory has a sting, is when we presented the eggs to our mum, the look of absolute hurt for her children nearly tore me apart, I hated that milkman throughout my childhood.
Wonderful write Wendy. Very professionally polished. Loved it.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Thanks so much for your wonderful review, Trish. I only wish it had brought back a happy memory for.. read more
I couldn't relate to this story. I guess that's because I grew up and have lived in Canada. We don't know what heat is here!

I have a few nit-picks. In the first paragraph, 'I'm laying on the bed' - 'I lay on the bed is correct' or 'I'm lying on the bed' is correct. There are a few sentence fragments which I will leave for you to find. There are comma splices, too, which usually can be fixed by inserting a semi-colon and a verb.
Jocelyn wonders.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Thanks Jocelyn!
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Mia
You have a very charming way of writing that drew me in. I felt like I was reading a letter from a friend. Your memory is amazing…I can barely remember what I had for breakfast. I enjoyed this, even though the heat sounds unbearable the memories still came across as one of happy times. Lovely story Wendy!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Thank you so much, Mia! When you get my age, it's easier to remember something fifty years ago than.. read more
When I saw heat, I thought I would find some Camus allusions :(
but anyway...

This was very descriptive and entertaining. I really felt the grossness of heat and what I love about reading is getting some new reality and this is new to me. I love the way you described Michigan, with the hand.

I just wished it had some sort of plot, or an underlying meaning.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wendy Seames Garner

8 Years Ago

Sorry to disappoint, Noelle, but this is just another of my childhood memories - no fiction here.

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Added on July 6, 2012
Last Updated on October 28, 2017
Tags: copyright WSG, heat, fifties, sixties, summer, park, milk man, camping, Michigan


Author

Wendy Seames Garner
Wendy Seames Garner

Lapeer, MI



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