Memory Lane: Summer Sundays

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Today is exactly the kind of summer Sunday that my family would have enjoyed by getting together for a backyard barbecue. Hamburgers, hot dogs, beer for the gents, and lots and lots of good talk–what else is a screened-in back porch for?

And if we went to Uncle Ferdie’s house, or to Aunt Florence’s, each place came equipped with cousins to play with and a backyard badminton set. Suddenly I really miss that! I love that “ponk” sound the racket makes when you bop the birdie.

I wish our cyber-family could get together for a day like that. Horseshoes, too. That’s another summer sound I miss, the clang of horseshoes hitting the stake. Or maybe we could all go over to Grandpa’s house and set up our lawn chairs under the catalpa tree.

Betcha anything they’ve got horseshoes and badminton in Heaven.

Memory Lane: The Family Cookout

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On many a Sunday in the summer, my father liked to hold a family cookout in the back yard. So early in the morning, I’d run over to the playground and fetch some fine sand for the coals to rest on.

If Uncle Ferdie came, as he usually did, we’d break out the horseshoes and have a few games, him, my father, my brother, and me. There’s nothing like the clang of horseshoes on a summer day. If Uncle Bernie came, he’d do some simple magic tricks that always wowed me. I never could figure out how he pulled off one of his fingers and stuck it back on, good as new. When he finally taught me how to do it, I had a lot of fun blowing the minds of the younger kids in the neighborhood.

When my aunts came, they usually brought slides of their latest visit to some exotic clime–places like Yucatan, Uganda, Iceland, or Australia. My Dutch step-grandfather, John, played old Dutch tunes on his harmonica. Grandpa reminisced about the misdeeds of Woodrow Wilson.

And then came the hot dogs and the hamburgers, which always tasted so much better, off the grill. I enjoyed watching the charcoal briquets catch fire briefly, then settle down to glowing redly and sputtering when fat dripped on them. A simple feast, but highly satisfying.

If only we could do it all again…