Reposted from my other blog www.thescribespen.com
I love summer…I really do…I think more now than I did when I was a kid. That kinda stinks in a way, because now I don’t have two months to play outside and do all the summery things I want to do. I spend most of my summer days sitting in a work cubicle instead of out in the fresh air and sunshine, but I do try and find the time in the evening or on the weekends just to savor the season.
When I was younger Summer was a magical time. While my mother didn’t entertain me and my brother every single day…we were country kids and could entertain ourselves just fine thank-you-very-much…she ensured that we had lots of summer days full of good clean family fun.
In our hometown there were two major industries Olin (which later changed it’s name to Ecusta) and DuPont. My dad worked for DuPont. Back then I didn’t think too much about the fact that the DuPont plant sat right smack dab in the middle thousands of acres of private forest with trails, two rivers, waterfalls, camping, a lake, and a whole farm for the employees to enjoy. It was a normal thing for me. The company also threw a picnic every summer which was something akin to a county fair, and it was all free to the employees and their immediate families. I cannot tell you how much cotton candy, snow cones, and hamburgers I ate on the picnic day while still having the constitution to ride the scrambler without puking.
As a kid I didn’t realize that most companies didn’t offer these amenities to their employees and how blessed we really were. Olin/Ecusta had a smaller version of what DuPont had, and it was called Camp Straus (which is now an upscale residential development called Straus Park). That’s where my husband’s family hung out in the summers, because his parents worked for Ecusta. They always had a huge 4th of July picnic which most of the county attended, because nearly everyone in the county was a friend or family member of someone who worked at Ecusta.
During the Summer we would spend two or three days at Lake D.E.R.A. (Dupont Employees Recreational Area), and it was just about the most fun a kid could have…especially when they added the paddleboats! My mom would pack us a picnic lunch, and we would stay at the lake until my dad got off work at 4:30, and he would stop by to see what we were up to. Sometimes we’d go to the lake later in the afternoon and have a picnic supper so dad could enjoy the lake for a while after putting in a hard day’s work as an industrial mechanic. Come to think of it…it must have been pretty tortuous for the employees working days at the plant to look out the front door and see their kids living up at the lake, but again, I think they were mostly grateful that they worked for such a generous employer. Folks who were fortunate enough to get a job at DuPont hardly ever quit because the pay was so good, and the benefits very generous. Same went for Ecusta.
Those definitely were the days! As the years rolled by American companies started getting more and more foreign competition. With subsequent off-shoring of manufacturing the massive perks we had slowly slipped away as I entered my teen years. Now, both industries have left the area. They have torn down the DuPont plant and are now in the process of tearing down the Ecusta plant to make way for a large retail/residential center.
DuPont actually sold most of their land to the state, and it is now DuPont State Forest. If you’re ever in the Brevard, North Carolina area you should visit it, and you can experience most of what I did in the summertimes of my youth. Lake D.E.R.A. is still there but sits unaccessible to the public at this time, and no longer hosts giggling kids and happy campers. The docks are falling in, and it is actually a sad portrait of what has happened to American Industry and the American Economy. I think the state has future plans to open it back up, but right now the lake is quarantined due to EPA monitoring to be sure the demolition of the plant did not cause longterm contamination of the lake.
Anyway, I said all that to say that I did envision such summers for my children. I dreamed of taking them to the lake and doing all the fun summer things my parents did with with me. This did not happen for me as I’m not a mother, and instead of living in a wonderful mountain town I live in the hectic city. However, I still face summer with child-like excitement and awe. I visit my hometown often, and other areas which literally scream “It’s summer. Come and enjoy me!” When I can’t do those things I go outside to my backyard around dusk and savor the feel of Summer. I listen to the cicadas and watch the sunset…even though these sounds are mixed with street noise and planes passing overhead.
So take some time to savor Summer…even if you wish you had little ones to do summer things with…try being a kid yourself. I’ve made a concerted effort to do that this summer, and it’s the best gift I could’ve given myself.