Sometimes he and Byron would walk to town. It was not far away and for that matter it was not very big either but Zach like going there just to see what was going on. He would climb onto a bench and watch the world go by. The postman go from store to store.A truck making a delivery to Mr. Brown’s hardware store or Mrs. Spiro dropping off her husbands shirts at the dry cleaners or any of the hundreds activities that take place in a small town on a quiet summers afternoon.
What he hated the most about going downtown was sometimes he would run into one of his mothers, fathers, or the absolute worst his grandfather’s older friends. They would make such a fuss over him which invariably ended with his hair being rumpled or his cheek being pinched or some other indignity.
But downtown was home of Catie’s Confectioners. It had every conceivable type of penny candy including sour balls, pixie sticks, gummy worms, Razzles, bubble gum in 7 flavors, smarties, and buttons. They sold ice cream in all the normal flavors and then some of their own invention such as MilkyWay, Fruit Loops, and Boysandberries. On the days when he had only managed to scavenge a few penny’s he would spend long moments examining all of the bins and trying to figure out in his mind which of the would be best suited for today….did he want to blow bubbles that would collapse over his nose or did he want to pour a pixies stick his mouth so he could watch his tongue change color. But if he had managed to find a dollar or he had persuaded his parents to give him one he always got the same thing: A double dip of Boysandberries and Fruit Loops. . He would sit outside the store and try to make it last as long as possible by taking as little licks as he could until only the cone remained. Then he would eat the cone from the bottom to the top. And when he was done he would let Byron, who sat patiently waiting, lick his hands clean.
Even rainy days were fun in the summer. He loved the excitement of the thunder and lightening storms. He would sit out on the porch swing and wait for the flashes of light and count the number of seconds before he heard the thunder like his father had taught to do.. He especially loved the fact that it was one of the few times that he was braver than Byron who would often sit under the swing and whimper until the storms had passed. Later after the rain had stopped he loved the way the neighborhood smelled clean and fresh. He would go out into the street and play in the puddles and wonder how the worms managed to find their way into them.
Dinner was always a family affair at Zach’s house. His Mom and Dad would always try to make it home from work so they could eat together and talk about their day. Everyone had a job. Zach’s Dad was in charge of the grill because during the summer most nights they would barbeque outside. His Mom thought loved to put together complicated salads with three types lettuce, two types of tomatoes and various other bits and pieces she could find to throw in . Zach’s job was setting the table and he usually did a really good job, especially folding the napkins, but sometimes he forgot what sides the fork and knife went on.
When the weather was nice they would eat out on the back porch on an antique table made from an old farmhouse door. It had a heavy coat of polyurethane and you could still see some of the heavy brass fittings underneath the clear coat. His mother loved flowers and the table often had a spray of roses, or deliphinimums or some other bloom from their garden . Citronella candles in mesh coated tear dropped lamps finished off the table their scent keeping the voracious mosquitos and flies at bay.
Zach loved eating dinner outside with his parents. The food tasted better than it did indoors and they seemed to have more things to talk about. They still chatted about all the boring things that parents talked about like what they did at work and stuff but he always had more things to tell them about his days and the adventures that he had. And even better, instead of having to go upstairs and work on his homework or his reading after dinner he was usually set free to go play with his friends some more.
There was always something to do in the hours between dinner and dark. Someone might be having a game of catch or playing football. Firefly capturing was popular as was Kickball. But Zach’s all time favorite was, especially in the growing darkness of the early evening was Capture The Flag. He loved sitting and planning strategy with the other kids and being able to create diversions so he or one his friends could silently approach and then with war whoop capture the flag. He loved to win and would be momentarily down in the mouth if his team should lose.
Every once in a while, just as one of these games ended he would hear his father whistling for him…”Doahdoo.Doahdoo…DohadooDohaddooDohaddoo” His father whistling could only mean one thing…they were going to Caties Confectioners. His Dad loved Ice Cream and if had been up to him he probably would have gone to Caties every night but for some reason beyond Zach’s comprehension, his mother would only let them go a couple of times a week. She said that she was trying to protect his Dad’s waistline, whatever that meant, but Zach suspected she just didn’t love ice cream as much as his dad and he did.
Caties was different at night. Instead of the quiet place that it was during the day, the store was packed. Often, it seemed to Zach, that the whole town had turned out for ice cream at the same time. But sometimes that was okay as he would run into one of his friends from school that he not seen all summer. For example one night while he and his Dad had waited in line they had run into his friend Krissy Bradbury. She was wearing a sun dress that had watermelons on it and she was deeply tanned from her the days she spent playing on the beach on Cape Cod. As the line moved forward they had shared the adventurers they had that summer with each other both trying to impress the other with their daring deeds. When they finally made it to the counter, he was absolutely delighted that she loved lemon Boysandberries as much as he did.
Even summer days need to come to an end. Zach would slowly trudge up the stairs to his bedroom with Byron climbing the steps behind him. After he washed his face, and brushed his teeth, he would crawl into bed with Byron jumping onto the bed, creating a nest at the end of the bed. His Mom would come in and tuck him in and his father would follow to tell him story of his own creation. His father’s stories were always fun and sometimes quite silly and he never grew tired of them. When his father had finished he would walk to the doorway and turn the light off and call to Zach’s Mom. Together they would sing a silly song “We belong to a mutual admiration society….my baby and me.”
After they had left, Zach would lay in his bed and smell the night air drifting in through the window. He could smell the fresh cut lawns, and the barbeques, and every once in while he swore he could pick up the chlorine smell from the pool at Union Field. He Laying in the dark listening to the sounds of the summer night going outside his window….crickets bleating, wind chimes ringing, a ball game on a television down the street, a dog barking, and sometimes way off in the distance a lonely sounding train whistle. His eyes would close and he would dream of endless summer days.
[Part 3: 6/26/20