Off The Beaten Path
In a far out, far away, but not forgotten Sixties era before nonfat mayo appeared on grocery
store shelves, before Oreo crème filling contained a mixture of vegetable oils instead of lard and
metastasized into several varieties and cookie sizes, before the invention of cell phones and PCs capable of
educating, game playing, communicating--there existed the most sacred stretch of leisure time known to
adolescents—summer vacation from school.
Authorities hadn’t yet tampered with extending the school day or lengthening the
academic year back then. You’d have thought Percy Faith and his Orchestra’s “Theme from a Summer Place” (1960)
serenaded the vacation my sister and I shared under the same roof—heady, warm, and giddy. Think again—bliss and boredom
are flips sides of a coin!
For starters, the circumference of our world under the
canopy of an azure sky shrunk as my mother hadn’t yet obtained a driver’s license for her to expand our
horizons. That would occur during my dad’s two week vacation. My sister and I frittered our time in the rural
enclave of Limerock riding bikes, roller skating, and playing with the kids across the street. During a time
when three TV channels existed—ABC, CBS, and NBC—we stayed hip by watching our favorite “reality” shows:
American Bandstand, The Lloyd Thaxton Show, Shindig, Hullabaloo, and Where the Action Is, getting reception from rabbit ears or aerial antenna. Some days there weren’t enough activities
to stave boredom, so my mother would propose “off the beaten path” interventions that worked their
I loved when she’d take out all the film envelopes of old photos which still have never been
sorted into albums. Florida honeymoon snapshots, our baby pictures, vacation moments, and holidays stirred
memories and elicited laughter as we idled the afternoon away on the breeze way.
Weeding out clothes closets on a dreary rainy day was the best. My sister and I tried on our dresses and skirts, marveling at how much we’d
outgrown most of the clothes we pitched in a pile. Best of all,
was taking ringside seat while my mother rummaged through her closet. We’d scoff her discarded high heels, flowing dresses, and festive,
wide-brimmed, floral and feathered hats to play dress up.
There were times my mother had us shuck a dozen ears of corn, or snap the ends off string
beans. I can’t believe I—moi-- enjoyed handling a wedge
of Romano cheese to grate for sprinkling over pasta. I’ve always
abhorred the smell of cheese, let alone have it permeate my skin.
The best “off the beaten path” ruse to alleviate boredom was going for a walk. The three of us meandered along Angell Rd., took a right at Maple Ave., and
followed Southwork Dr. where it led to Twin River Rd.-- the two-lane we traversed until we got back to our
house on the corner of Angell. Sometimes my sister and I
discovered interesting rocks we picked up for treasured specimens. You might say I could hear the strains of “Theme from a Summer Place”
serenading our heady, warm, and giddy journey off the beaten path of school vacation boredom.
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