There is snow on the ground, its 29 degrees…I’m thinking about swimming.

Last night drowsy, warm and cozy in bed, about to turn in for the night, I checked my email. Lands’ End sent “NEW Swimsuit Cover Ups!”  It’s ridiculous to click on the link, it’s too early to think about that, I need to lose my Christmas pie weight, there is snow on the ground, and…and…I look.

Cute bathing suits, that light blue one reminds me of….

As I fall asleep, a movie-memory is playing of my sister and I in the summer, early 70’s.

I thought I looked so cute in my little light blue two piece swim suit with the little ruffled skirt (back when 2-pieces actually covered you!), with my pool patch affixed by my grandmother in just the right spot to my suit, my bathing cap with flowers on the side (which I remember wearing only once), flower power terrycloth snap cover up, my coordinating rope handled pool bag and white P.F. Flyers!  I loved that cover up; I’m still looking for the adult version of that cover up! Remember those funny pink rubbery nose plugs that dangled around your neck on what looked like a big pink rubber band?

We belonged to the Sungate edition neighborhood pool. In order to show that your family had paid the yearly fee for pool membership everyone had a red patch sewn to the lower right leg of their bathing suits and it read, “SUNGATE POOL 1972”, or the appropriate year.

P.F. Flyers – the tennis shoe that promised you would “run faster and jump higher.”  While trying on the P.F. Flyers in Cinderella Bootery, I sensed my mother’s hesitation to commit to the purchase, so I decided a great selling point was to show her just how much faster I could run and how much higher I could jump in those white canvas wonder shoes.  I even threw in a couple of herkie jumps to seal the deal.  Impressed with my athletic prowess in and around a shopping center, my mother was convinced she couldn’t deny her daughter this phenomenal purchase.  My guess is what I interpreted as hesitation was in reality her desire to ensure that the shoes fit with room to grow in and her daughter’s athletic antics only pushed her into a quick and firm, “I’ll take them!”, just to get her weird daughter to stop!

Aaah, those summer days. Popping out of bed as soon as I saw the sun shining, scurrying to make my bed, feed the dog, take out the trash so I could quickly prepare for the day. Pulling the sides of my long hair back in a ponytail holder with large plastic balls, getting dressed in my favorite blue smock top, stars and stripes red/white/blue shorts and red sandals, I was ready to go.  I was patriotic even then.

Every time I think of my little sister as she looked then with her curly hair pulled up to show her sweet face, her cute little legs in her floral shorts and yellow top, my heart just melts.

She and I would run as fast as we could to hide behind our neighbor’s decorative wall.  Breathing heavily from our break-neck-speed getaway, from behind our bunker we would catch our breath, and listen.  Had we been found out?  Did our mother want to start the day with more chores?

Like all mothers, occasionally she had the knack of wanting to clean out a closet, a dresser or the garage, or some such nonsense on a SUMMER DAY??!!  Inexplicable!  Were we being called?  We would give it a good….minute.  If we heard nothing we would run down the street to start knocking on doors to ask, “Can you come out and play?”

Of course, there was always the chance that once mother had her Saturday morning coffee and realized her girls were not to be found, she would open the door to call our names or start telephoning the neighbors.

Side note: one of the chores I disliked the most was Windex-ing the glass and chrome étagère and coffee table.  While I realize that this isn’t hard labor like hauling hay or milking cows, no matter how much I polished there was always a print I missed.  I swore when I grew up I would never have glass furniture of any kind and I don’t!  My mother taught me well, I know how to do it properly from above and below…still, I own no glass étagère and no glass coffee table!

Oklahoma summer days heat up pretty quickly and by 10:00 a.m. we were hot from playing and ready to walk the mile tour our great neighborhood pool.  We rode our bikes occasionally, most often we walked.  We rarely got rides to the pool, onlly if one of our mothers were on the way to the grocery store, passing the pool or if we had been at the pool all day long and it was close to dinner time.

I had the perfect bike. Sparkling white, decked out with a white & pink floral banana seat, handle bar streamers, white wicker basket adorned with pinks and yellow flowers, a ting-aling bell, and hot pink sparkly plastic covered bicycle chain. Remember when a bike freedom to go and to go fast!! The wind in your hair, feet on the handlebars, as you’re flying downhill!!

After showing off my skills to I’m sure no one who was watching, 572 flips, dives and aerials, dozens of rounds of Marco Polo, keep away, pool tag, catch, seeing who could swim the farthest holding their breath underwater, a couple of banana popsicles for me and Bomb Pops for my sister, and a few synchronized swim routines, we would walk back home.  A hot dog or grilled cheese in our stomachs and back outside to the pool or to play.

We lived at the head of a cul-de-sac.  When they paved the road, they left behind a pile of rock and tar right at the top of the cul-de-sac which hardened into the perfect home plate.  The curb house numbers for the houses on the sides of the roundest part of the street became 1st and 3rd plate.  The often debated location of a strategically placed Frisbee was usually 2nd plate.  We played kickball by the hour. We had lots of kids on our street and kickball was easier than baseball with our various ages.  My favorite time to play was in the waning hours of the summer evening.  Too dark to call kick ball plays any longer, porch lights beginning to come on and lightning bugs beginning their dance, we would hold on to the last bit of twilight.

We knew what was coming next; we would always pretend not to hear the first couple of times we would be called in for BATH TIME!!

Forever in my mind tangled together will be the sound of running bath water and the M*A*S*H theme song. Anytime I hear that theme, I think of summer, playing and baths. As much as I protested, that bath followed by clean pajamas and a good dinner in the glow of our home always made me feel that the world was a good and safe place. That parquet-floored den, giant modern square yellow coffee table, green shag throw rug, orange and brown couch and peacock chair – 70’s memories!

My sister and I would end the day in our matching pink pajamas, robes and slippers, happy from a full day of playing, sleepy from a bubble bath and a good dinner, lying on the rug in front of the TV resting our heads on big circle furry pillows.

All that from a Lands’ End email

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