NPR and Mosquito Trucks

By

NPR and Mosquito Trucks

National Public Radio (NPR) made it official! On a recent broadcast they declared that there is no longer an authentic summer. The days of sultry air, cotton pajamas, sleeping porches and attic fans are a memory for Baby Boomers and others fortunate enough to have had these experiences. Air conditioning and instant ice tea quickened the demise of an era that defined at least one generation.

We are isolated and removed from our sense of community because we have retreated indoors. Once the thermometer reaches 80 degrees we close the windows and hunker down with i-Pods, blackberries and laptops. NPR went on to explain that community parks and pools used to be family gathering places. HGTV did not come to our neighborhood for multi-million dollar makeovers. In my yard there was a blue plastic pool and a swing set. My best friend, Buckshot, had a sliding board attached to his swings. That was high cotton for us.

Summer arrived and our moms loaded up several cars of kids, homemade lunches and lemonade for a day at the park. Carpooling was the norm. Each mom got the car one day a week. There were no two car garages since there was only one car for each family. Our day at the park was packed with activities from start to finish. The mornings we splashed and played in the pool. Lunch was at noon, and then we rested before heading back to the water. Late afternoons we cooled off by spinning at warp speed on the merry-go-round. The trip home included a dripping popsicle as humid air blowing in the open car windows dried our damp bathing suits.

After supper our version of an amusement park began. Street games were a non-gender event. If you could hit or kick a ball you were on a team. We played until the last moments of daylight flickered out for the day. As soon as darkness arrived we grabbed our mason jars and started chasing and catching fireflies. Does anyone see them now? How sad that the wonder of those tiny miracles may be lost forever. There was an unofficial contest to see who could catch the most. The highlight of the activity was the release of the lightning spectacular. We were spellbound as the beacons of light returned to their freedom.

The ringing bell of the ice cream truck signaled the next act of the evening. Armed with a nickel in our pockets we ran down the street to greet our friendly ice cream man. The big decision for me was how I would spend my money. It usually ended up between a cherry snow cone and a nutty buddy. On occasion I would branch out and get an ice cream sandwich. There were only about five choices – not the current 40 flavors with sprinkles and toppings the national chains now offer.

The Grand Finale for the evening was the arrival of the mosquito truck. We could hear the humming of the motor that held the tank of foggy poison that would blast those evil insects into space. My neighborhood buddies and I stood in the middle of the street as we watched the truck approach. It resembled something out of a Stephen King novel – if he had written a book in the 1950s. As soon as the truck reached us we ran into the fog and yelled and cheered in delight. Little did we know that DDT and other early chemicals were found to cause cancer in laboratory rats and kids that chased mosquito trucks! On those summer nights we were unrelenting in our determination to participate in the ritual.

Listening to the segment on NPR stirred those glorious and carefree memories from my childhood. We live in a different time now, and I realize that it would be impossible to return to that decade of innocence. There is much to be grateful for in the name of progress. However, when August descends on us and we are forced to slow down because our breath is heavy and deliberate – maybe, just maybe, we will stop and cherish one uncomplicated moment in our day. It is ok to embrace that sticky old dog of summer.

About this writer

  • National Public Radio (NPR) made it official! On a recent broadcast they declared that there is no longer an authentic summer. The days of sultry air, cotton pajamas, sleeping porches and attic fans are a memory for Baby Boomers and others fortunate enough to have had these experiences. Air conditioning and instant ice tea quickened the demise of an era that defined at least one generation.

    We are isolated and removed from our sense of community because we have retreated indoors. Once the thermometer reaches 80 degrees we close the windows and hunker down with i-Pods, blackberries and laptops. NPR went on to explain that community parks and pools used to be family gathering places. HGTV did not come to our neighborhood for multi-million dollar makeovers. In my yard there was a blue plastic pool and a swing set. My best friend, Buckshot, had a sliding board attached to his swings. That was high cotton for us.

    Summer arrived and our moms loaded up several cars of kids, homemade lunches and lemonade for a day at the park. Carpooling was the norm. Each mom got the car one day a week. There were no two car garages since there was only one car for each family. Our day at the park was packed with activities from start to finish. The mornings we splashed and played in the pool. Lunch was at noon, and then we rested before heading back to the water. Late afternoons we cooled off by spinning at warp speed on the merry-go-round. The trip home included a dripping popsicle as humid air blowing in the open car windows dried our damp bathing suits.

    After supper our version of an amusement park began. Street games were a non-gender event. If you could hit or kick a ball you were on a team. We played until the last moments of daylight flickered out for the day. As soon as darkness arrived we grabbed our mason jars and started chasing and catching fireflies. Does anyone see them now? How sad that the wonder of those tiny miracles may be lost forever. There was an unofficial contest to see who could catch the most. The highlight of the activity was the release of the lightning spectacular. We were spellbound as the beacons of light returned to their freedom.

    The ringing bell of the ice cream truck signaled the next act of the evening. Armed with a nickel in our pockets we ran down the street to greet our friendly ice cream man. The big decision for me was how I would spend my money. It usually ended up between a cherry snow cone and a nutty buddy. On occasion I would branch out and get an ice cream sandwich. There were only about five choices – not the current 40 flavors with sprinkles and toppings the national chains now offer.

    The Grand Finale for the evening was the arrival of the mosquito truck. We could hear the humming of the motor that held the tank of foggy poison that would blast those evil insects into space. My neighborhood buddies and I stood in the middle of the street as we watched the truck approach. It resembled something out of a Stephen King novel – if he had written a book in the 1950s. As soon as the truck reached us we ran into the fog and yelled and cheered in delight. Little did we know that DDT and other early chemicals were found to cause cancer in laboratory rats and kids that chased mosquito trucks! On those summer nights we were unrelenting in our determination to participate in the ritual.

    Listening to the segment on NPR stirred those glorious and carefree memories from my childhood. We live in a different time now, and I realize that it would be impossible to return to that decade of innocence. There is much to be grateful for in the name of progress. However, when August descends on us and we are forced to slow down because our breath is heavy and deliberate – maybe, just maybe, we will stop and cherish one uncomplicated moment in our day. It is ok to embrace that sticky old dog of summer.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatar Close