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Today is July 6, 2022

Mississippi Seen

It’s summertime

By Walt Grayson

It’s summertime

June is pretty much just another month for me and has been for decades. But when I was a kid, June meant school was out and summer had started. June felt like a weight was lifted! June meant no homework or book reports, or exams. Honeysuckle and Ligustrum were in the air. And there was plenty of free time to fill with whatever came up.

There were chores around the house, of course. I would help mama wash dishes and take out the garbage, which I always balked at. All you had to do was take the grocery sack of trash from the can in the kitchen, carry it out the back door and through the chain link fence gate, and dump it the garbage can outside the fence. 

I tried to think of a way to just open the dining room window and hook the sack onto a rope and pulley that lifted the garbage can lid as it went over the fence and then somehow drop it all into the can. I would have built it, too. But the “somehow” eluded me. A lot of my ideas and inventions ended up being stopped dead in their tracks because they included a nebulous, indefinable “somehow” thrown in that negated all the other absolute plans.

But summer was the time to work on projects like that. Or discard them altogether for something more fun. Riding bikes to the levee was fun. The temperature dropped a good 10 degrees when you turned off the concrete of North Broadway onto the gravel road to the levee. 

We went everywhere on our bikes. We rode to the “kiddie show”  at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday mornings. Admission was seven RC Cola bottle caps. My friends owned the grocery store across the street. All of us kids in the neighborhood started helping clean out  the bottle opener on the drink box by at least Thursday, so seven  caps were a cinch. 

When I was 11, I rode my bike to the press room of the Delta  Democrat Times in Greenville every afternoon and paid 25 cents for 10 newspapers. I would carry the papers over to Washington Avenue and sell them for 50 cents. Doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards but a quarter-a-day profit was plenty of money to keep an 11-year-old  going back then. 

Martha would stop by mid-morning some days with fresh produce  in the back of her pick-up. She had grandkids maneuver over the baskets of this and that and fetch a sack of butter beans, squash, tomatoes, and other stuff. Mama, Granddaddy, and I and anyone else at home would sit in the cool of the porch and shell beans or hull peas in the afternoon. 

I read a post on Facebook the other day where someone told their kids to go play outside. One of the kids wanted to know if “outside” was an app. No, it wasn’t an app. Outside was a three-month adventure just a few decades ago — starting every summer right about now.

 

Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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