Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summertime And The Living Is . . .

Miriam over at AnceStories 2: Stories of Me for My Descendants has her sights set on Summer, this week's topic. As she says, "No doubt about it, summer has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! This season tends to be a favorite for most people; however, there are a few who prefer a different one, or perhaps just plain don't care for summer for reasons such as heat."

How do you feel about summer? Is is a favorite season, or do you prefer another? You are talking to a true Capricorn here - I do not like Summer. Out of the four seasons it is my least favorite. My favorite has always been Fall, followed by Winter, Spring and then Summer.

What are your favorite summer activities? Do you enjoy being outside, or would you rather curl up with your air conditioner?

Air conditioning is key to me now, but was almost unheard of when I grew up. No, I did not grow up in the Plasticene Era despite the rumors, but I lived in the Catskill Mountains of New York where the days rarely required air conditioning.

But after spending six years in a hot and steamy swamp called Washington, DC, and living in Chicago where close to 800 people died in 1995 during a heat wave, central air conditioning was a requirement when I shopped for my current home.

I do however like to sit out on the deck and spend time with friends during the summer. And cook all my favorite summertime foods.

Do you have a favorite summertime sport to participate in or watch?

Unless you've heard of some relay race using trays of gin and tonics, there is no summer sport in which I care to engage. I grew up watching softball with local town leagues in upstate New York. When I moved to Chicago, I learned that the locals play a version called 16-inch softball.

What is your typical summer outfit?

A tank top (some call it a wife beater which I disdain) and walking shorts with a rayon or silk Hawaiian shirt. This almost never varies in the summer unless there is a funeral. Going out to dinner is casual so the outfit almost never changes.

Do you take a summer vacation? Where do you normally go, and what kinds of activities do you do there?

Vacations were very rare when I grew up since we could not afford them. I do have memories of two summer vacations, both of which were driving vacations: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Niagara Falls, New York.

What is your favorite summer holiday, and why?

While I am partial to Gay Pride Day (the last Sunday in June), and locally I like Venetian Night (hundreds of boats are decorated with lights and sail out on Lake Michigan on the last Saturday in July), my favorite has to be July 4th.

As I get older, and work more on my genealogy, I realize all the sacrifices each generation of my family made towards building this nation. Whether they were here during the formation of this "more perfect union" or came to these shores in the 20th century, they realized that nothing was to be handed to them - that they had to contribute in order to get. And like most Americans, they contributed much more than they took and left this a much better place.

What kinds of summer foods or drinks do you enjoy?

In no particular order: sweet tea, cole slaw (sweet), macaroni salad (sans tuna fish Colleen!), potato salad, bratwurst, beer, watermelon, peaches, blueberries, homemade fruit pies, grilled lamb, grilled London Broil, musk melons and more than I can think of right now.

Share some favorite memories of summer vacation from when you were a child.

The Gettysburg vacation was great - it really introduced me to history and the Civil War. We spent three days just roaming the battlefield, taking tours, visiting the memorials for each fighting unit, and trying to imagine what took place over 100 years ago on those hills. We also made stops in Hershey, Pennsylvania and Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see the Amish community.

Niagara Falls was an eye-opener for me, not because of the falls, but because we crossed over to Canada and I became an international traveler. The concept of a different currency, a different language (all signs were in English and French) and different customs made a big impression on me.

What is your least favorite thing about summer?

The humidity. When I lived in San Francisco, I lived out at Ocean Beach and there was always a nice layer of marine fog to keep things cool. But even when I ventured out to Napa or the Oakland Hills, the heat was dry. These days I just seem to wilt more and more if it is humid.

Do you enjoy summer storms?

No. My mother was a big fan of driving out to a spot to watch the lightning. I would rather be in a dark closet saying the Rosary.

What is the hottest summer temperature you remember experiencing?

I believe it was close to 115 degrees in Phoenix one Labor Day weekend. Only someone like me would think of vacationing in Phoenix during the summer. On the plus side, I did stay at the Biltmore which took most of the pain away from the insufferable heat.

Do you have a memory of a cool or cold summer? Has it snowed on the Fourth of July in your area?

I do remember in the Catskills having snow on Memorial Day weekend but never July 4th. We also never had a frost after Memorial Day but there could be some high 30s on July mornings that would catch the City People by surprise.

As Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," and I can verify that the man was speaking the truth. As a local I was prepared and knew that shorts and t-shirt weather didn't start until September. But invariably you could see tourists who had just bought San Francisco sweatshirts in Chinatown or Fisherman's Wharf shivering as they waited for the cable car.

What family birthdays, anniversaries, or events are commemorated in the summer? Are there any significant family history events that occurred during summer?

My mother's birthday is in July as are many of her siblings. And if there is to be a family reunion or get-together it is almost always in July since school in upstate New York tends to run through the last week of the month (due to snow days) and most families vacation during August.

What summertime hobbies do you pursue? If you are a genealogist, do you travel to ancestral locations during this season?

With the current state of the economy, I too am re-aligning my resources and putting more money towards subscription research sites rather than over-priced airfare and gasoline. This past weekend, while I visted my Mom for her birthday, I did take time to seek out some headstones of McEntee relatives in New Paltz, New York.

I miss my summertime genealogy field trips. I would travel to Lowville in Lewis County, New York or North Kingstown, Rhode Island to do research.

Do you have any summertime photos of your ancestors? Check out the 49th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy ("Swimsuit Edition") for great stories and photos of genealogy bloggers' ancestors in swimsuits and summertime wear.

I've run quite a few summertime photos of me and relatives in some of my previous posts. Simply click on the label "summer" to see them!


Miriam said...

A great post, as always, Thomas! I haven't heard the term "musk melon" in a while...my folks used it and so did their families. Out here, we call it cantaloupe. If it hadn't been for musk melon/cantaloupe, I probably wouldn't be here today (see the AnceStory of my great-grandfather for details)!

MyUtopia said...

I also hate summer. It was 105 yesterday. : (

Apple said...

I can't imagine putting snow season ahead of sun season! With the exception of a few summers spent on the farm in NC I have always lived near Lake Ontario where the lake breeze is cooling so heat isn't a concern here very often. I might feel differently if I lived someplace else.