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COMMUNITY VOICE

The passing of another summer brings back some fond memories

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:01 am

A little bit of this, a little bit of that …

You tell me you like when I write nostalgically about growing up here. Well, just before summer gave way to fall, I was remembering going to band concerts during the summer months, especially the band concert in Woodburn. So many small towns had their weekly band concert performances at which everyone came to visit and walk around and applaud the musicians, who were also neighbors.

My dad had a colleague in Woodburn, Dr. Mosher, with whom he was friendly, and so an annual trip there was on the menu. It was a highlight of a summer evening, and somehow no matter how high the temperature went during the day, the evenings seemed to be pleasant enough to gather and enjoy. Do these band concerts still take place? It was a tradition I would hate to see die out.

Summer also meant the excitement of a big circus. The walk around the grounds seeing — and smelling — the animals and looking cautiously at the ads for the sideshows and finding our seats under the big top and watching the elephants parade and holding my breath because of the tight rope walkers and the aerialists and their daring and the pink cotton candy.

There are two names I remember: Sells Floto and of course Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. There was an aroma like that no place else. I was a little girl back then, but I still recall it today.

There was the Spink Wawasee Hotel, when I grew older, also. And going to the Jefferson Theatre, which advertised “Air cooled” because of the huge fans. Remember, there was no air conditioning in those days.

We tennis players got up early and hurried to Swinney Park to get a court and play before the heat of the day. The Fourth of July parade went right past our house on West Washington. That was long before we saw sophisticated big city Thanksgiving Day parades. But our parades filled our hearts with patriotic zeal and were meaningful and exciting to watch. Summer was very special.

I just finished a very good book I want to tell you about. It’s “Beautiful Ruins,” written by Jess Walter. The characters are fascinating, the plot(s) intriguing. The author jumps around a lot in time and place, but that adds to the involvement one gets in reading it. Pasquale is one of the finest characters I have “met” in a novel. Richard Burton (yes, the Richard Burton) appears, and the Italian village with its small, rocky harbor sounds enchanting.The book is available at our public library. Put in a reserve. You’ll be glad you did (I hope).

Writing about no air conditioning above reminded me of what August was like for many of my friends. First the runny eyes and stuffed-up noses and feelings of malaise were blamed on goldenrod. When blame shifted to ragweed, people were still miserable. So if possible there was a migration to northern Michigan for relief — and a stay until a local frost or at least until Labor Day.

I remember my dad picking up a teenage patient and taking her to the Nickel Plate station to catch a train for Michigan, and Jo stayed there until school started. There are many inventions that can be looked at with disdain, but the advent of air conditioning certainly was a tremendous blessing to asthma and hay fever sufferers.

And now September and remembering the jaunts to Devil’s Hollow among other spots to gather bittersweet. Cattails were brought home, dipped in gilt and used as centerpieces for fall tables. The glory of Indiana in the fall of the year is heart-filling.

Add to that the fun of attending high school football games. I remember my high school friends piling into the truck of one of the fathers so we could follow the team to Bluffton. We sang “Central, Dear Central” with awesome fervor. We were young and loved our school, and it was the time of harvest — and beautiful foliage and love of life. And it is still like that, isn’t it?

Wishing you wonderful memories.

Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher in Fort Wayne.