A Summer’s Tale

Most of my summer stories are immersed in happy memories, much like fresh strawberries generously coated with rich dark chocolate. But this story is different! It starts off cheerfully enough, but, as it happens too often in life, unexpected events occur along the way!

Yes, my story has an innocent enough beginning. My sister was babysitting for the three-year-old son of one of the summer residents in my grandparents’ rooming house. With the parents’ permission she was allowed to take the little boy in his carriage to the park.

“Can we go, too?” My cousin, Dick, and I asked simultaneously in a slightly whining way.

“No!” My sister said, immediately and firmly. But when we kept nagging her by repeating the question over and over again, she eventually gave in to us.

“Okay, okay,” she said, “but you two better stay out of trouble. Babysitting for little Mike is more than enough for me!”

“You’ll forget we’re there,” I said with an innocent smile on my cherubic face.

“Just let Mom and Aunt Claire know that you’re going with us!”

“Okay, okay,” I said, on my way to Mom, who was on the porch of the rooming house. She would tell Aunt Claire.

Once Dick and I got the okay,
the four of us began our adventure.

“We’re going to the park a few blocks from here,” my sister told us.

“But that’s so boring,” we whined. There’s a much bigger and better park about a mile from here,” I said. “That would be so much more fun for Dick and me.”

“She’s right,” Dick repeated. “It’s a much better park!”

“Okay, okay,” my sister finally said, caving in once again. “But don’t complain about doing all that walking! There’s no room for you two in Mike’s carriage!”

“Very funny,” I said.

We passed the local park within a minute, and I could tell my sister wasn’t happy about bypassing this cute little park for a much bigger one a mile away.

We walked and we walked and then we walked some more! Little Mike was sleeping the whole way, and my cousin and I were holding in our frustration with the walking. If we said anything, Stephie, my sister, would just say, “I told you so!”

When we got there, Stephie stayed on the side of the park, essentially for parents and young children with baby swings and just a few pieces of equipment. Dick and I were immediately bored.

“This side of the park is too babyish for us! We’re going to the other side with the other swings and stuff for older kids!”

Then we walked away as my sister called after us to stay put. At that point Mike awoke and started crying. Dick and I just continued to the other side of the park.

When we got there, we headed for the swings, but we didn’t get too far. Out of seemingly nowhere came a gang of five kids , just a little older than we were. Immediately, they started punching us on on our faces and then anywhere they could. They kept shouting, “This is our park, not yours! Get out of here!”

We fought back as best we could, but it was five boys against a boy and a girl. The odds were obviously way against us!

And then they were gone, leaving Dick and me speechless, except for a few whimpers and with black eyes and bloody noses. When we reached my sister and Mike on the other side of the park, we were totally exhausted. We looked like a couple of retreating soldiers after a lost battle! I was crying!

All I remember was my sister screaming “Oh, my God,” and, because it was only the 1950s and mo cell phones, she led us to a pay phone booth to reach our moms so someone could pick all of us up. Thank God Mike’s little stroller could be folded up and put into the car!

I don’t remember much after that. It was a woeful tale, but I humbly learned some lessons about being obedient and not being reckless.

Most of our physical scars healed, but the emotional ones still remain to a certain extent. This tale is my only sad memory of summers spent at my grandparents’ rooming house. In a way it was the first of many reminders that life can be very unfair, and we can never be too careful!

By the way, my sister never said, “I told you so!”

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