That night, while Zach and his parents were eating dinner, he sprung his idea on them. “Mom and Dad, Pops and I were talking about summer today and I told him about how I didn’t want it to end and that I wanted to figure out a way to keep it from ending. He told me that the best way that I could save the summer was by remembering it and when I asked him how he said that when the things are really important to people they put them in Museums.” Zach paused to look at his parents who at this point had a look of bewilderment on their face….. “And I would like to start a museum of Summer….”
Zach’s parents were both a little taken back and amused at the same time. His Dad said “Well that is certainly a very interesting idea and very creative but have you thought about where you are going to put this museum?”
“Well I thought we could put it in the basement. It is bit messy down there but I could clean it up….other than that their would be plenty of room to put the the….what do you call those things like they have at the Natural History museum?”
“You mean exhibits?” Zachs Mom said.
“Yeah there are plenty of room for the exhibits and then when ever anybody wanted to remember summer all they would have to do is to go to the basement.”
“Zachie what type of exhibits were you thinking about?”
“I don’t know exactly. I was actually thinking of asking each of my friends to create their own and maybe Pop’s would want one or Mrs.D. and if you want to make an exhibit you could make one too. And I was thinking that it might be fun…” and he paused.
“Yes” said Zach’s Dad knowing that the pause was probably going to cost him something.
“I was thinking it might be fun to make it a party. We could invite everyone who was making an exhibit and we could have cake and ice cream from Caties.”
“Zach I don’t know” started Zach’s Dad “It is an awful lot of work.” He looked at his Mom knowing she was easier to convince and tried to give he that look that always seem to make her say yes and said “Please Mom. It is really really really important to me.”
Zachs parents looked at each other. They realized that their son had their heart set on this and to say no would just mean days and days of pleading because Zach could be relentless in getting the things that he wanted. They also loved the fact that he had been so creative and had used so much initiative. So Zach’s Mom said simply “Okay” and after some consultation it was decided that the grand opening of the museum and the party would be held in 10 days time on the Sunday before school began.
The next week and a half were a blur of activity.
The first thing the next morning Zach rounded up the gang from around the neighborhood and they all met at the lean to. He did his best to explain what it was that he was trying to do. How much he had loved summer and he didn’t want to end and thought that making a museum was a great way to do that and it was something that would be all of theres even though it was going to be at his house. Rachel Roberts asked what they would need to do. Zach told them that all they needed to do was figure out what their favorite part of summer was and put together a display of that.
Rachel said “You mean like those diorama things we do for school” and Zach said “ Yes, exactly like that.” When a few of the kids expressed a little bit of doubt about the idea Zach told them there was going to be a party they quickly changed their mind.
Cleaning the basement proved to be a lot harder work than Zach had originally thought. It was an old house and the basement had not been cleaned since they had moved into the house 9 years earlier. There were lots of boxes in there, even som that had been left by the previous owners and his mother insisted that go through each one of them to make sure there was nothing valuable in them. Then he had to haul these boxes, some of them as big as he was, out to the curb, for the garbage men to pick up. Thankfully, the house had a set of storm doors that led directly out of the basement otherwise he never would have been able to get all the boxes out. Then he swept out the place making sure to get rid of all the spider webs located in the rafters and mopped the floor. When he was done he was exhausted but the basement was spotless and his parents very proud of his efforts.
Zach was not the only one working hard. His mother had ordered and sent out invitations. She and her husband had decided that Zach’s museum was a good excuse to have the neighborhood over for and end of summer gathering. Decorations had been purchased and a caterer engaged. However, she did all the baking herself. There she had outdone herself with a three layer coconut cake, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, and two of Zach’s favorites raspberry pie.
His Dad was also quite busy. He purchased sawhorses and plywood to build the tables for the displays. He made a sign that he mounted over the storm doors that read “Museum of Summer with shiny gold letters and a green background.
On the day of the party each person who was making an exhibit brought their display into the basement covered with a white sheet that would only be removed when everyone went through the museum for the first time. Zach wanted to be surprised about the displays and much more importantly it would be more fun this way.
Zach was extremely excited as he looked around at the party. All of his friends were there and almost all of their parents. Mrs. D was there, as was his Grandpa and of course his parents who at that moment were busy getting drinks for and making plates of food for their guests.
Zach walked up a couple of steps to the porch doors and cleared his throat. Pops and he had written a little speech and now seemed like a good time to give it. He said “Welcome to the grand opening of the first museum of summer.” Everyone cheered and his mother much to his surprise put two fingers in her mouth and gave a really loud whistle. “Everyone” he continued” has worked really hard to put together the exhibits and I wanted to thank everyone for helping to make this museum possible.” There was more cheering and he resumed “No one knows what the displays are yet as they have all been covered in sheets to keep them a secret. So what we are going to do is all walk down into the basement together and as we get to each display the person who made it will take off the sheet and they will tell us what it is and what it means to them! Is everybody ready?”
And with that Zach ran down the steps crossed over to the storm doors, opened them and descended into the basement followed by the rest of the party. The basement which had an exposed beam ceilings was essentially one very large rectangle. Arranged along the wall, on the tables that Zach’s dad had built were 12 displays each covered in sheets ina variety of colors.
Everyone paused at the first display and Zach yelled out “Whose is this?” Becky stepped forward and with the help of her Dad pulled the sheet from her exhibit. Underneath it was a replica of the flag that she had made for the lean too….the same t-shirt with the black dog and the 10 hand painted stars on it. The only difference between it and the one at the lean too is this one was a pale red while the one back in the woods was a light blue.
Someone yelled out “Why did you make it?” Becky blushed a little and said in a shy voice that got a little louder as she went a long “Well everyone liked the flag I made for the lean to and I really like our trips in the woods especially when we told stories so I thought this would be perfect for the museum.” She paused for a second and then said in a very shy voice “And this time I asked my Dad before I used one of his t-shirts.” Everyone gave her a round of applause and as a group they moved over to the next display.
Krissy Bradbury pulled off the sheet on the second display. It revealed a large packing box in which the front and the top had been taken off. The bottom of the box was covered with sand with a couple of figures that looked suspiciously similar to Barbie and a couple of her friends arranged in various beach poses. On the left was an 8 x 10 color photograph of what appeared to be an old house. At the back of the box was a photograph of the same size of the ocean and on the far right a picture of a very old tree with many many branches. Krissy said “My best memories of the summer are at the Cape. And that is the picture of the house we have there and over there is the water and on the right is a picture of my favorite tree. And the people playing in the sand are supposed to be me and my friends but I couldn’t figure out how to do that so I used Barbie instead.”
And so it went, as each display was reached the person would reveal what was underneath and tell why they had created it. Rob Kelly’s was just simply a dodgeball because it was his favorite game in the whole world which made Zach rub his knee.
Drew Spiro’s was a fish mounted on a piece of wood.
Mrs. D. had a photo album full of photographs from a trip she had to made to Italy when she was younger and when asked why she had picked that she just blushed smiled and wouldn’t say.
Tommy Hughes display were a collection of baseball cards and Red Sox hat along with a scorecard from the game
Pop Pop’s was just a flashlight with what looked like a plate of cookies and some milk. When asked he said in somewhat husky voice “I like telling ghost stories to my grandson.”
His parents had surprised him by putting a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt over the top of old sewing mannequin.. Zach got very embarrassed when they told the group that this was their favorite memory of summer because it was their first kiss.
Finally, there was only one display left: Zachs. He went over to it and pulled the sheet off revealing a large wind chime on a metal stand with photographs attached to each of the chimes. There were pictures of all the people who mattered to him: His friends, Byron, Pop-Pops, Mrs. D and his parents. He reached out and touched the lowest hanging of the bells and touched it and it rang. Zach said “ I couldn’t figure what memory was most important to me. They all mean a lot. Which got me to thinking that what was really important to me was the fun that I had with everyone….I decided to put it on the wind chime because that is the sound I hear in my bed as I am thinking about my day and right before I go to sleep.”
People applauded and some even came over to shake Zachs hand and tell him how much fun this was. And for a long while many circulated around the exhibits looking at each one , savoring the memory of summer it represented for the creators. But eventually people began to drift off. Tomorrow was the first day of school and it was time to go home and get ready for fall.
Later that night Zach lay in bed. He could smell the fresh cut lawns, and the barbeques, and the fresh chlorine smell from the pool at Union Field. He lay in the dark listening to the sounds of the summer night going outside his window, crickets bleating, the rustle of trees and a train’s whistle in the distance. His eyes closed and smile crossed his face when he thought about how summer had been saved. It could never leave him now
The wind blew. The wind chimes jingled. Sleep came.