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Not/Quite Remembering: Summers

Posted on July 2, 2010 at 1:23 PM


Not/Quite Remembering: Summers


“My God....it’s still there.”

 

That was my reaction when coming across the actual webpage for Roman Nose State Park in Watonga Oklahoma. I don’t know why I randomly decided to type that into google, perhaps it’s the July 4th holiday and “summer feeling,” but I was surprised it was still there because it felt old and outdated even in the 1980s, the last time I remember actually going there.

 

Then I started thinking about summers as a kid and places like Roman Nose. Man, just think about your childhood and the summer months out of school. Was there anything better? Not a care in the world and all the time do all sorts of stuff - that's a lot different these days. Growing up, my summers usually consisted of the following.


-Going to the lake (usually Canton Lake) for a weekend.

-Going fishing with family.

-Going to the public pool or parks.

-Going to the mall with friends and, before they eventually closes, the arcade and skating rink. Also movies.

-Going to friends’ houses to play games, stay the night and overall drive adults crazy.

 

Every once in a while, there’d be things outside those norms (and I’ll write about those norms at some point). Sometimes a vacation here and there, and sometimes Roman Nose State Park, or some sort of park, to spend the day.



(It's weird finding a photo on the internet taken from the exact place you stood twenty years ago. It's like someone reached into my head and pulled out a memory...also: Paddle Boats, yay!)

 


Roman Nose was about two hours outside of my hometown, and only about thirty minutes from Canton Lake (sometimes we’d swing by both). As a kid, I was just excited to go and do something different. Usually we would try out the paddle boats on the small lake there, do some hiking and have a picnic. When I say “we,” I mean my grandparents, especially by grandfather who loved all things nature-related, my parents, the siblings if they were around and sometimes my aunt or uncle. It wasn’t always this group, though. I went there plenty of times with just my grandfather or without the aunts or uncles.

 

It was about as stereotypical of a State Park as you can imagine. It had a main lodge, cabins, a dining room, and a pool. You could feed the raccoons outside that would come up and eat out of your hand. Outside of that area were lots and lots of trails and backroads, some for hiking, others for camping or parking trailers and RVs. Some were even for horse riding, but that’s something I never got to do because my mother wasn’t a fan of horses for some reason. Then you had the fishing, canoeing, and things like basketball, biking, volleyball and so on.

 

~Apparently there was a golf course too, but I think that might have came after I left the state...I don’t ever recall it.

 

It wasn’t great fun, though. After a while you just tired of it, and I could read on the faces of my mom, uncle or aunt when it was probably time to pack up and get the hell out of there. It was just something to do in a state that had very little to actually do. I only remember small bits and pieces like eating with everyone ham and cheese sandwiches outside along a hiking trail on a hot, summer day or never quite getting the paddle boats to go in the direction I wanted (and my little-kid legs not quite strong or coordinated enough to turn the paddles). I remember coming up to the state sign, riding in the passenger sign of the grandfathers beat-up Jeep Wagoneer with oxidation on the hood and wood panels on the side. He drove that thing his entire life, on and off road from fishing holes to duck blinds. It would bounce along even on smooth-roads with country 8-track tapes in the backseat alongside a fishing rod and all sorts of stuff hunting equipment.


(Not an exact depiction, but darn close.)

 

~He kept it clean, though. Many a weekends I spent vacuuming and detailing it, even when it was on its last legs. I wish I could find a good picture of it online, but all the ones I see are too, shall we say, “modern.”


I can’t say I miss going to Roman Nose or Canton Lake, though. At least, not those places specifically. They were sometimes more a hassle than actually “fun” and you can still get bored at them pretty quickly. Yet, I do miss what those places represented.

 

~No, not my youth. Wait...ok, my youth, sure. But that’s not the point.


There were other things over the summers between school years I loved doing. Hot summer nights had me and my siblings or friends riding our bikes to the corner store for a soda or the sno-cone stand in the local shopping plaza. That plaza was across the street from the neighborhood rental store, a place that would eventually be my first job, and we'd rent the latest movie or Genesis and Super Nintendo games for the weekends.


All these things represented getting together with people and just going out and doing something....Hmmmm....let’s take a look at what I listed earlier: going to the mall, going to friend’s houses, the lake with family, going to the arcade and skating rink...

 

Ah, I see. So THAT’S what summer is all about. It’s not about what you do, but who you do it with. At least when you were a kid.  It’s about just getting together with other people and enjoying company even if you start running out of specific fun ideas. Even sharing stories around a campfire is more than enough. Sometimes places like Roman Nose may not seem all that great, but at the same time they’re kind of taken for granted. Sure, it may have been some place stuck in the 1960s, but it sure got everyone together, didn’t it?

 

~Although I would have taken the arcade any day.



(Only a matter of time until I'm this on summer days.)

 

Now I’m old and crotchety, I think. Kind of bitter and can do nothing but sit around and bitch about stuff and think about my past. When you become an adult, summer loses its meaning. Now you just have work, bills and expenses and write blogs on the internet reminiscing about when they were a bit more cherished and certainly more taken for granted.



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