Returning Guest Adventurer Laura Ehlers reflects upon Memorial Day and her childhood growing up in “Cornfield USA”. This was such a fun article I asked if we could publish it here! Thank you Laura! You can also find Laura on her blog Coast of Illinois.
It is 8:15 on Sunday. Memorial Day weekend 2015.
The neighbor, whose house I can not see because our yards were mapped by a drunk mathematician with a love of rhombussy parallelograms, has cranked up the radio. (Yes, radio. Not satellite, not iPod, not Pandora.) He has cranked up the good old fashioned radio. How do I know it is a radio? Because the DJ just shouted the call letters KSHE-95! And now what started as the end of an Allman Brother’s tune has ramped up to ‘Rough Boys’ and The Who. And while I prefer the soundtrack of my life to be a tiny bit mellower on a Sunday morning, I can appreciate the sentiment.
We, my neighbor and I , both grew up in the 1970’s when Memorial Day Weekend meant the swimming pools were open, school was over and for three glorious months we had absolutely no responsibilities. (Except for those two weeks when it was corn de-tasselling season; an activity unique to Cornfield USA. This is a time when teenagers are loaded into a truck, dropped at the entrance to a cornfield and slowly, meticulously walk the rows, pulling off the silky corn tassels to aid in hybridization leading to bigger yields. This was back when genetic engineering was spoken of in hushed tones in the back rooms of men’s clubs.)
I never got to be part of the de-tasselling crowd. My Dad, knowing me all too well, informed me that the last thing I wanted to do was walk around in hot scratchy cornfields with a bunch of cute high school guys who would probably, eventually need to remove their shirts.
But, I digress.
While many things have changed, Memorial Day will forever mark the beginning of summer. (Yes, astrophysicists, I am aware that the true beginning of summer is June 21, when the stars align and Aquarius buys the world a coke.) To me, it seems that so many traditions are falling by the wayside. We no longer go on day long pilgrimages to decorate graves.
Gone are the seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables – thanks to those amazing people in Chile and New Zealand we can eat apples and strawberries all year round.Although I have to take issue with the so called ‘January tomatoes’.
Television programs are now on-demand, TIVOed, and available for binge-watching. There was a time, back when we had to turn the channel by hand, that nearly everything in the summer was a re-run and we counted down the days until September and Saturday Cartoon Preview Friday happened! I hate to admit it, but there are several new shows, which I am looking forward to, starting this SUMMER!
Simply unheard of in the days of manual genetic modification and wearing white only after the end of May.
I no longer have kids in school, or anxiously looking forward to that ‘last day’ and later the ‘first day’. I no longer belong to a swimming pool. I now have to plan vacations around four adult work schedules. My husband grills year round and due to my inability to keep food off my person, I rarely wear white.
So I am here to say THANK YOU to my neighbor with the hearing impairment. Without you and your awesome sound system I would have nothing but a date on the calendar to mark the unofficial beginning of summer.
Now, before anyone gets all “Memorial Day is about more than YOU having a three day weekend” – I have written much more serious posts about remembrance. Please check out these links for the story of my family’s Memorial Day celebrations and service.
(and if you are super bored, check out a previous post regarding my neighborhood and music:
Summer Sounds. But at least be sitting outside when you do so, unless you are under severe storm watch, then enjoy from the confines of your bathtub.)
Happy Memorial Day everyone!
And please, I am on call this holiday so for Pete’s Sake:
WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS!
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
CONSUME FOOD IN MODERATE AMOUNTS AND ALWAYS COOKED TO AN APPROPRIATE INTERNAL TEMPERATURE!
*And thank you Mad Men, for allowing Don Draper to reintroduce that awesome Coca-Cola advertisement.