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Local Residents Remember Summers Gone By

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Now that summer is in full swing, many schoolchildren are getting to taste a sweet slice of independence.
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Now that summer is in full swing, many schoolchildren are getting to taste a sweet slice of independence.

Now that summer is in full swing in the Washington, D.C. region, many schoolchildren are getting to taste a sweet slice of independence. And the memories of those lazy, hazy days of summer will likely remain with them long after they've entered the world of adulthood.

Just ask Cynthia Chase of Laurel, Md. It's been many decades since she spent the summer at her grandparents' home in Meadville, Penn., but the memories of those days are still clear to her.

"Summers were very hot in Meadville, and in the middle of the day, when the heat was the worst, the kids would walk up to Mrs. Porter's store," she says.

The store was dark and cool, she recalls. "We always got popsicles. She had every flavor you could imagine, from lime, to root beer, to cherry. I always got banana; that was my favorite."

For Adam Eidinger, an Adams Morgan resident, summer was a time when he and his friends in Pittsburgh would let their imaginations run free.

"In my neighborhood, there was a gang of kids who took over about 100 acres of land that was sort of abandoned by a slag company," he says. "We built these clubhouses from scrap wood that we would salvage from anywhere. We had car doors and cabs for pickup trucks that we salvaged, and we made skylights out of them."

It was a time in his life, he says, that was "innocent... and it was amazing."

Alexandria resident Susan Struthers grew up in a much different place and time: post-World War II London. The city was still struggling to recover from the bombings that ravaged much of the city, but Struthers and her friends found ways to stretch their imaginations even in the bombed-out buildings around them.

"Right opposite where we lived was this huge house, and it had been bombed out, and there were big signs that said 'No Trespassing.' But we went in there anyway. And you go up the stairs in these houses, and there would be children's clothes, the odd doll. In the kitchen there would be remnants of plates, and so we would play house."

Struthers says it was her mother who encouraged this sort of imaginative play.

"She would ask us questions... 'What do you think the father did for a living? Where did they go to school?' So then we'd start making things up about the families that might have lived in these families. That was my mother sparking the enthusiasm for storytelling and imagination."


We received information about this piece though WAMU's Public Insight Network. It's a way for people to share their stories with us and for us to reach out for input on upcoming stories.
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[Music: "Art Gallery" by Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen from The Score From The Motion Picture [500] Days Of Summer/ "One Way or Another" by Blondie from Karaoke]

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