Tuesday, April 12, 2011

flashing back ...

Growing up in Brooklyn in the '70s and '80s was a wonderful experience.

If you've ever seen images of children running through a fire hydrant I'll tell you straight away that that was not me. Not my brother. And not our friends.

We were lucky. We were lucky because we had a pool in our backyard.

It was an above ground pool, 4 feet in depth, and bright blue. Do you know the kind? You have to have seen it. That blue outside and the even brighter blue inside? The water bluer than both of them together.

The white ladder and small step right before you jumped right in.

It always shook. It was so rickety. Never quite steady enough to be fully attached. It never stopped us. Me. It never stopped me.

I'd climb up that ladder without a care in the world.

"Don't run!" I heard my mother's voice.

"Okay!" I would shout back. I couldn't see her, but she was probably roasting on a lawn chair out of my line of sight. Slathered up in oil without a trace of SPF. The scent of coconut gave her away. That's the way things were back then.

My dad? My dad was either in the pool waiting for me, or on the other side of the yard standing at the BBQ. And I don't mean gas grill, either. It was charcoal and lighter fluid or nothing else for us back then. There's nothing like the smell of charcoal heating up before it hits the flames.

Back then I ate whatever was put in front of me. I ate hot dogs, hamburgers, with cheese, without. I can't imagine that grilling back then was anything like the ensemble my parents pull together now on the gas grill on their porch. Sausage pinwheels, chicken or turkey (which is all I eat as a grown gal). Slathered in sauces. There's even a brush!

But when I was a child there was my dad, standing in his swimsuit, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, flipping burgers with a spatula and a fork.

Clean up was full of paper plates with grease marks, leftover buns we'd toss to the birds, just in time to make way for watermelon.

Watermelon. The juice dripping down, spilling all over us. Paper napkins sticking to our unblemished and sun-kissed faces. Sticky hands. We'd tear right through it and ready ourselves for more time in the water.

"Wait!" We'd stop. Freeze. Me, ahead of the pack, the oldest. My brother hiding out in the basement. My cousins right behind me. Our slender bodies ready to jump again. Dive. Play Jaws. Looking over at my mom. My aunt. My dad finishing his cigarette.


"30 minutes," she'd shout from her spot in the grass. Sitting up, sipping water, I could see the lines of the chair imprinted in her skin.


"Yes," a chorus now. All the adults would chime in together.

We'd make our way down the ladder. Backwards.

"Oh-kayyyy." A chorus in return. Young voices, listening to their mothers.

We'd make our way around the outside of the pool, glancing over with longing. Heading down to the basement before we could come back out, rinse off our feet with the hose at the steps and dive back into a world of total blue.

** This is a response to this week's Remembered prompt over at The Red Dress Club. **


  1. I have the same memories of my mother tanning with baby oil slathered all over her body. Those were the good old days when the sun wasn't the enemy and we hadn't yet heard of melanoma. Oh and the Doobie Brothers ruled the airways!

  2. Coming from SoCal, I've always thought that those above-ground pools were a bit sketchy.

    Ah, such carefree days.

  3. I love the details - the cigarette, the charcoal, the watermelon and the oil. I feel like I'm right there!

  4. We have lots and lots of those pools down here. My friend calls them "red neck" swimming pools. I figured you might get a laugh out of that. :)

    I remember days like that in the summer too. I hope my kids get to enjoy scenes like that.

  5. Duuuuh duh. Duuuuuh duh, duh duh duh duh duh...

    I LOVED playing Jaws! And the pool. i could totally pictures my friend's pool, it was just like that.

  6. You had me from the description of the above ground pool which exactly fits my memory of studying the photos of ones for sale....was that in the Sears catalogue or where? Anyway, I so coveted one as a child so I know how dead on your words are! You made me smile!

  7. Love it! My friend up the street had the same pool and did my cousins in Long Island. Once that rickety pool burst all over my uncles back yard and out we all went! LOL!

    I still don't buy the 30 minute rule! ;)

  8. ""Okay!" I would shout back. I couldn't see her, but she was probably roasting on a lawn chair out of my line of sight. Slathered up in oil without a trace of SPF. The scent of coconut gave her away. That's the way things were back then."

    Yes, that's exactly how it was then! You really captured that here with scents, sounds, food and talk. I really appreciated the relaxed talking to me style that you took on here.

    A fun, reminiscent read.

  9. I loved this. It had that stream of consciousness feel, without any glitches. That's a reflection of how polished it was.

    I could imagine jumping in that pool.

  10. The description of your mother; priceless. I can smell her just around the corner in the hall. What characters your parents were!
    Of the many blogs (not just Remembered) I've read today - VERY NICE. You've a real talent.

  11. your storytelling was fantastic here! i loved your style, with the asking questions and then answering them.. and how descriptive you were about the blueness, and your mom's coconut oil scent and the lawn chair lines on the back of her legs. My favorite and most relatable part was the smell of heating charcoal. Makes me think of home ever time. :)

  12. I kinda felt like I was hanging out in your back yard with you all. I can just picture your Dad at the BBQ. :) Such great childhood memories...

  13. OH ACEYGIRL! Love. Ours was the town pool. This is so wonderful, you have me sooooo there again. SIGH!!!! Hugely.

  14. I grew up in Northen Virginia, but I think we have the same summer memories!

    I loved reading this! Well done!


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