Though my childhood seems so far away, it's not . . . in fact, it's as close as a suddenly triggered memory; and may I quickly add, I find that comforting. Mind you, I've no desire to relive those pivotal years; but neither do I want to forget them, for to do so would be akin to erasing a portion from the chalkboard of my life as if it never existed. But it did - and my, oh my, was it significant in this lad's life!
A week ago today, I shed my shoes to walk barefooted on the beach for the first time this year. When my feet hit the hot sand on the path to the strand, memories of the first days following Memorial Day invaded my consciousness. You see, that's when summer vacation started in earnest for us little kids during the early years of the Korean War; and for the next three months we were free . . . free of schedules, free to explore, free to play until dark throughout the neighborhood, free to let our imaginations run wild - it was glorious! And what signaled the start of our emancipation? "Summer shoes!"
Suspecting some have never heard the term "summer shoes," I'll open a window into my past. As always, when my father was overseas serving as a naval officer, my mother, my two sisters and I lived with my maternal grandparents in a little house in North Charleston, SC; and I attended Ben Tillman Elementary School adjacent to the Charleston Navy Base. Daily school attire for me and my buddies consisted of: dungarees (the term "blue jeans" had not yet been coined; our pants were made of heavy denim so as to withstand several years of wear and our pant legs were rolled up to allow for increased height . . . increased girth was not anticipated among children); a pair of "Buster Browns" for special days, Converse All Star look-alikes for ordinary days; and a simple, collared, button-down-the-front, single color shirt (most of us had two, with a white one in reserve to wear on Buster Brown occasions). But the uniform of the day changed dramatically during our hiatus between grade levels; from Memorial Day to Labor Day, we wore: shorts (underwear was optional), no shirts, and "summer shoes" . . . which meant no shoes at all! In short order, we were all darkly tanned (pre-sun screen days); and the soles of our feet had toughened, enabling us to traverse hot asphalt, chase an errant baseball through a tangle of wild black berries, and walk the summer sands unfazed on those rare occasions when we visited a beach (when Dad was at war, Mom had neither the inclination nor the resources for much frivolity).
This week in a rustic beach house on Edisto Island has been an all-too-brief reminder of a bygone era; and as such, it has served as an impetus for sharing a memory or two with my children and grandchildren. I pray that in years to come something of what transpired will be deemed worthy of sharing with their offspring, though I suspect it won't be "summer shoes"- they all wear "flip flops!"
In His Power and for His Glory,