Ten Best: Summer vacation memories
Summer of surf
BRIAN – With this being the last week of school for most Guilford County students, we thought it appropriate to relive some of our own summertime memories. My own childhood summers were spent almost without exception between the jetties of the old Capri Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, Long Island, astride a Boogie board for hours on end with my pals Kevin Brennan and Brian Wurster. I had the pleasure of watching Capri burn to the ground one night in the summer of ’77, when it has been derelict for a few years, and between that time and a point in the ’90s, when a neighborhood of summer homes cropped up, it was our own private wave-riding grounds.
Summer of drama
JORDAN – Monterey, Ky. is a town of scarcely 150 souls, but with the nearest armed law enforcement being the county sheriff’s office 10 miles away, it developed a reputation for wildness during my formative years. From my vantage point, this included driving large trucks into the park and building blazing bonfires, as well as open teenage drinking in the park and in the streets. Things got so out of hand that the county judge had to set up court in the Monterey volunteer firehouse for an afternoon to clear out the backlog of misdemeanors. Many people were fined for allowing dogs to run loose. Of course, the time when a local drug dealer (believed to be a paid informant for the state police) tried to throw my friend Dwayne (grandson of the town constable) over the railing of the bridge was not much fun. Not fun, but dramatic.
Monster road trip
RACHEL – Even though my dad didn’t have a lot of extra cash to throw around showing my brother and I extravagant summer vacations, he always had good ideas of trips to take that didn’t cost a lot of dough. In 1986 he decided he’d drive my brother and I from our home in Houston up and down the East Coast, showing us mountains and historical landmarks to further educate our developing minds. I learned that Tang was not a good substitute for orange juice, and Babyland General Hospital, where Cabbage Patch Kids were born, was much cooler than the Biltmore Estate. What do you expect? I was eight.
AMY – Every summer during elementary school, my mother would pile my two sisters and me into our Mazda station wagon for a trek across Texas to see my grandparents in El Paso. From Austin the trip took about 10 hours, and it was inevitably hot and contentious. But in the days before automotive televisions, we got our jollies watching the trees turn into scrub and then vanish altogether and by counting down the miles between the halfway point, Ozona, and the two lonely towns – Fort Stockton and Van Horn – on that last, endless stretch of I-10.
KENNY – My friend Ricky and I, about age 14, spent an entire summer salvaging and souping-up old, beat-up riding lawnmowers. We had the fastest tractors in the neighborhood. Taking the blades off really didn’t make the machines any safer. We were in a dirt parking lot when I decided it was my turn to give Ricky’s open-air speedster a spin. “Don’t pop the clutch!” he said. Of course, I hopped on and took off like a rocket, pulling a wheelie and spinning frantically out of control. My failed attempts to tame the wild bull finally came to an abrupt halt when I slammed into someone’s Camaro. Unfortunately it was my knee that made initial contact – apparent by the blood and powder blue paint all over my leg, not to mention the softball-sized dent left in the car door. Aside a few minor injuries, it was a summer I would love to relive.
CHRIS – See if this sounds like a fun summer: You, a high school sophomore, are to spend six weeks of your summer locked on the campus of Meredith University, taking classes and attending lectures with the best and brightest of North Carolina’s high school students, with severe limitations on who can visit you and an all-out ban on leaving. At its heart, Governor’s School is a good idea, a program run by the most fervent of Black Mountain College idolaters that gives the most gifted of NC’s oft-rural high school kids the chance to mingle and match wits with real peers in their field. However, the prison-camp implementation (which I’m told is to avoid parental lawsuits) kind of distracts from my pleasant memories. My roommate speculated that the whole thing was a eugenics program to pair intelligent young Carolinians up for the good of the economy. Which is the kind of thing a high-schooler that knows the word “eugenics” would think of.
AMY – On the last day of the fourth grade, I acquired a mysterious lung infection that not only meant missing Field Day, but also part of the car trip my grandparents planned for us girls into the American West. I missed the trip west and two days of Disneyland before my mother, who had probably tired of my whining, loaded me onto a plane for a healthy dose of desert air. I caught up with the rest of the family and recovered for the leg of the trip from California to Nevada, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
BRIAN – The summer of ’88, the year I graduated high school, I worked at the Garden City Pool as an attendant, which meant basically lazing in a lawn chair and telling the kids not to run by the pool and occasionally picking up tossed ice cream wrappers. It was a beautiful complex, with three pools, redwood picnic tables on a tall hill (the highest point in town) and an honest-to-goodness high dive, the kind which insurance policies have made nearly extinct. But the real fun was in sneaking off to the pump house for smokes with my ne’er-do-well buddies.
Summer of mischief
JORDAN -In retrospect, it probably wasn’t that exciting. Boredom, as country people know, is a strong motivator of resourcefulness. My friend Bluegrass (yes, the same as the state nickname) and my cousin Chris decided one day to stage a hoax by making fliers for a fake band called Twisted Nylon Twine that was supposed to play a concert at the Monterey Beach, a sliver of sand on the Kentucky River. The fake singer’s name was Tim Raines, after the Montreal Expos left fielder. The concert caused anger and alarm among some of members of the town establishment, and anticipation among the hipper set. Ike Raisor, the town constable and caretaker of the beach, threatened to cut an oak tree across the road to block the expected mob. Recognizing the potential for things to turn ugly, my cousin telephoned Ike Raisor impersonating Tim Raines and informed him that the band didn’t want to cause trouble and would be canceling their Monterey stop. Later, I had to come completely clean about the hoax event and the hoax phone call. Ike said it was okay; kids are prone to mischief and he was probably breaking windows at my age.