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What We Did on Our Summer Vacation: 1950

grandma-pic.jpgby Bonnie (Hazen) Nelson

A sign summer holidays were right around the corner was when Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Blue and Miss Strauce started getting us ready for finals. And we knew that the King Edward school fair was not far off too.

Before the big day, the kids sold fair tickets. Mothers and dads ran the fair booths, so we were free to have the time of our lives. My mom ran the watermelon booth - my favorite booth being the fish pond. The treasures we were able to catch are actual collector's items today. If only we had had the insight to have kept them intact! But instead we enjoyed these toys 'til they self-destructed.

Pony rides and pet parades...my poor cats Mickey and later Blackie I'm sure dreaded fair day, but when dressed in layers of doll clothes, they would obediently lay motionless in doll buggies waiting to be judged "Best Dressed Kitty" of the parade.

The first days of summer vacation melted into weeks of great times. Family outings...cottages...Point Pelee and Rondeau Park visits. Jack Miner's...and  visits to relatives outside Detroit.

But the best times were the hot, sultry summer days spent in Grandma's garden on Windermere. Carol Ann Tynan, a childhood friend and I delighted with an old, dented, well-worn wash tub filled to the brim with ice cold water. We would splash and squeal and giggle those hot afternoons away. Run through the sprinkler, then sit wrapped in towels and shiver. Or, we'd make tents out of old blankets hung over Grand's clothes line, and camp with our cats and dolls into the late evenings.

Carol lived with her Mom, Dad and Nana above James' Butcher Shop around the corner on Wyandotte so Grand's was Carol's yard to enjoy too.

The United Cigar Store on the corner provided our supply of popsicles and ice cream cups. Remember all the lids we used to collect? They had movie star pictures on them.

Fred at the Velvet Dairy Bar was a friend to all the neighbourhood kids. Ice cream cones, a big double dip, were 5 cents.

Then one day they went up to 7 cents.
I don't know how many times in my life I think of Fred when I buy a cone. Little did he know, that within 40 years those double dips would cost $2.50 plus.

Fred's soda fountain and juke box are a part of my teenage memories. My girlfriends and I closed Fred's old Dairy Bar the last night he was open. Then he renovated and our favourite hang out was gone.

Saturdays, Dad and I would have hot fudge sundaes at Peerless for 25 cents. I'm afraid I am still a hot fudge sundae lover at heart.

Trips to Detroit to shop at Northland. Lunches at Greenfield's cafeteria in downtown Detroit. Dinner at the Geranium Tea Room, in Windsor. A day or two at Boblo Island, picnics on Belle Isle.

Grandma had a huge cottage at Epping Forest on Lake Erie. That's where I learned about snakes, spiders and sun burns.

Now I watch scallop draggers and whales pass my house. Fresh clams are free for the digging and ocean liners from all over the world pass up the river to a year round ocean port.

Thunderstorms are a novelty and lightening is rare. When I watch the Weather Network, I'm reminded of the summer thunderstorms in Windsor - Windermere would inevitably flood, much to the delight  of the neibourhood kids. We'd splash and carry on and float homemade boats, while dads were busy raking leaves out of the storm drains.

As Grandma used to say, most things will come to change but some things simply remain the same. 


next: the junk collector


 

 

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