Shelley Terry

Shelley Terry

Summertime is such a wonderful time of year in northeast Ohio. There’s so much going on ... lawnmowers roaring, people running here and there, the fair, festivals and more.

When it gets really hot outside, I remind myself that I grew up in a home without air conditioning. Our car didn’t have air conditioning either.

Most of my classmates would say the same thing.

We spent summers with open windows and box fans, riding our bikes, drinking Kool-Aid, running barefoot, playing in the creek and licking popsicles to keep cool.

I liked riding my bike four miles to Eagleville for a bottle of pop and penny candy at a little neighborhood store. I don’t remember the name of the store, but the building was half house and half store. I’m sure faithful readers from Eagleville remember it.

When I didn’t feel like pedaling my bike, I would ride my pony. Sis would jump on the back and hold on to my waist.

I would always bring my transistor radio on a lanyard and we would listen to top 40 hits on CKLW, an AM radio station out of Windsor, Ontario.

On very warm days, we even made our own swimming pool. We would fill Grandma’s wash tub with water and we would squeeze in together, delighted with our ingenuity.

To be honest, I don’t remember the heat really bothering me that much except at night. Even with the windows open and box fans whirling, I was still hot.

My grandparents lived next door and their old farm house stayed cooler than our newer ranch-style house. Plus, Grandma always had Archway cookies, butter pecan ice cream, Jiffy Pop popcorn and other goodies ready for the taking.

After a hard day’s work, Grandpa would sit on his front porch with a wet handkerchief draped over his head and a cold, wet handkerchief around his neck. Even though he was retired, he still worked the farm just as hard as a young man.

The amazing part is that he only had one hand, having lost the lower part of his right arm in a haying accident when he was in his 30s. Yet, he somehow did everything a man with two hands could do without any assistive devices.

He would work from sun up to sun down. Sis and I would watch for him to hook his little wagon up to the Ford tractor. Then we would run to him and holler, ‘Give us a ride!’ He always obliged and we were happy to take in the scenery of the cows, horses and fields of grain. Sometimes we would jump off early and catch tadpoles in the pond.

But it wasn’t all fun and games.

If you grew up on farm, you know this is the time of year to make hay. If ever there was a hot, dirty, miserable job, it’s making hay. I hated it. The heat — my God, the heat — and to top it all off, I suffered with terrible hay fever.

Grandma took pity on me and bought me some over-the-counter allergy pills but they didn’t work. My nose ran, my eyes watered and I was quite miserable.

Come to think of it, the heat did bother me more than just at bedtime. It bothered me during hay season, especially when I had to work up in the haymow stacking bales. You think this past week was hot? You haven’t been hot until you have worked in a haymow on a sizzling hot summer day. That’s hot!

How I wished to be little again, like Sis, who was nearly five years younger and didn’t have to help with hay. She watched until we had the hay wagon piled high with hay and then she would run to us for a ride on top of bales of hay. The bales would prick her legs and the wagon would sway and creak, but I guess that’s part of the excitement, like a carnival ride.

And like most kids, once the work was done, I was on to another summer adventure.

Talk about the old days! Staff writer Shelley Terry also shined yellow buttercup flowers under friends’ chins to test whether they liked butter, and pulled petals off daisies to see if the object of her affection loved her or not.

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