Summer Poem - June 1950

Driving in to work this cold, cold morning, I mentioned to my son that I can't wait for summer. It takes about 20 minutes to get into the city from Bayonne, so I had a few minutes to tell him about my first summer in New York.

It was late June in 1950 (I was five) and we lived near Riverside Drive, having moved to New York City from Germany in December of 1949. School was out and I headed for the forests of Riverside Park. The air was humming with the sound of bees, wasps, crickets, and other insects I didn't know the name of, so much so that you couldn't hear the cars trundling along the parkway only a block away.

There was no end of zoological treats for a wandering youth.

It was one of those bright sunny days that feel so good when you seek shelter under the canopy of a large, well-endowed tree [I'm such a keyword whore]. At first I thought the tree was bleeding leaves. I saw these green, hairy, finger-like insects carpeting the entire bark of one tree. I filled up an empty pack of cigarettes with these crawly creatures...

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HOLD ON: Let me interrupt this story for a moment; I have to mention that my mother used to send me to the corner store with a quarter to buy her a pack of Chesterfields from the vending machine. The machine had 9 different brands although I remember only Chesterfields, Old Golds, Phillip Morris, Lucky Strikes, Pall Malls, Camels, and Commanders. The smokes cost 23 cents and since the machines at that time had no way to give change, the manufacturers inserted two pennies in the bottom of the pack, between the cellophane and the paper wrapping. My mom would let me keep the two pennies for running the errand. Sometimes she would let me light her smokes for her. I wouldn't inhale but I thought it was so cool.

I started smoking when I was nine years old and I didn't quit until 23 years later in 1977.

But back to that summer day. As I was saying, I filled up an empty pack of cigarettes with these crawly creatures and, unhappy with the volume of collected specimens, I found an empty box and stuffed it with hundreds and hundreds of these hairy beasts. I quickly took them home and placed the box on the kitchen table and went out to get more of them. When I got back I heard my mother screaming. There were millions of them, or so it looked, all over the kitchen. My mother gave me such a whupping it still hurts today.

My son, who knows that I am opposed to spanking children, interrupted the story here to ask, "and did you learn your lesson? Did you ever bring caterpillars into the house ever again?"

"Well," I replied, "not caterpillars, but a month or two later I brought home about a dozen stray kittens from around the neighborhood and I didn't know that kittens will crap like crazy if you don't have a litter box so there was cat poop all over the place when mom got home. My mother was not a cruel person, but she must have lost it that day. We lived on the second floor of this apartment building and she opened the window and started flinging the kittens out into the common garden area below. Each time one went flying out you'd hear this blood-curdling meeeeoooooow and then a horrible thump. When I went out to play the next day there weren't any dead kittens which surprised me greatly at the time. It wasn't until years later in school that I learned that cats had nine lives."

My son asked again, "and did you learn your lesson? Did you ever bring cats into the house ever again?"

"Well," I replied, "not cats, but..."

Since my parents never tried to reason with me, the beatings, severe as they were, never taught me any abiding lesson. And so it went until I was about 17, constantly getting beaten or whipped. I think it finally stopped when I started working for Baker Castor Oil as a urethane polymer technician [yes at 17]. Hard to get into that much trouble when 8 hours are gobbled up with employment. Although I did get fired more than a dozen times and ended up in the hospital for a month from a chemical explosion in the lab. There are still parts of my body that cannot tan.

"So what brought up this memory of summer?" my son asked.

"Hey, it's really cold outside and it reminded me of a Winter Poem I blogged about a few months back."

I told him that got me to thinking about the author, Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre and her provocative and insightful poem she also did about summer.

Well, gentle readers, on a biting cold day like today I figure you might enjoy one of the best poems ever written in English about summer. So here is

If you enjoyed this Summer Poem, you may enjoy her great epic Winter.

### End of my article ###

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