Endless Summers in 1960’s Ashton by Jeff Meiners As long as I can remember, Ashton has been a sleepy little town of 1000 people. Everyone’s frame of reference is different, but for me, it was never a better place to be than the summertime in the late 1960’s. This was a world of ultimate freedom for an 11 year old boy relieved of the oppression of a regimented school schedule to take in all the summertime pleasures this village had to offer with few responsibilities other than to make it home in time for supper. The first line of business once we were out of school clothes was to get the first good sun burn in so we could spend the rest of the summer not worrying about it. The main form of transportation for the neighborhood gangs were our bikes, which we took much pride in making sure they were in top shape. Stingray bicycles were the chosen style with banana seats and, if you were lucky, three speeds to constantly adjust since they weren’t real reliable. We made sure to make good use of the baseball cards we didn’t like, mostly Cardinal players, by attaching them to the frames of our bikes with clothes pins so they touched the spokes and sounded like engines when we road fast. We covered a lot of ground on our bikes, sometimes sneaking out of town on the country roads just for the sheer adventure of it all. Our parents didn’t worry about what we were up to as there wasn’t much trouble to get into and we all knew the rule that we had to be home by supper. Baseball was always a big part of the picture in summer and we usually rode with our gloves hanging from our han- dle bars just in case a game might start up. We were all in little league (t-ball wasn’t a thing yet), but we played a lot of hot box and whiffle ball was always popular because we could play it almost anywhere without worrying about breaking a window. The Cubs always played during the day, except when they were on the road, and were only on TV on Sundays…so we usually carted a portable radio around so we could catch some of the game. We weren’t really old enough to have any real kind of a job, but we had our chores around home. We did generate a little extra spending money by selling lemonade along the highway and in the case of my family, golf balls that we picked up, bittersweet that we picked along the road or cattails that we spray painted to look fancy. Cash earned was
almost always re-invested in candy, baseball cards or an orange crush. Spare time was spent catching most any kind of critter we could get our hands on with garter snakes, toads, lighting bugs and butterflies being at the top of the list. Somewhere towards the end of summer we usually took a trip to Wis- consin to stay in a cabin and catch fish with our cane poles and visit Paul Bunyon’s place for breakfast. Then one fateful day, the Ashton Gazette would come out with the list of teachers and students assigned to their classrooms and our dream summer would come to a crashing end. Our endless summer did actual have an end, but the silver lining to the com- ing school year was that we would get to do it all over again in a short 9 months! I’m pretty sure most of us will never know a freedom to match those carefree days of our youths, but they’ll always be tucked away in the backs of our minds when out of the blue, some event will stir a memory that will take us right back there like it was yesterday and just for a mo ment we will be those kids all over again.
July, August & September 2019 Crest Ink 21
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