I wrote this essay several summers back. The year after my father died. I am not sure why I thought of it now. I just did.
Maybe it was the sounds and scents of harvest that remind me that we have lost yet another summer or maybe it was having the grand kids over this weekend – and the hard slap they gave the porch door every time they rushed in or out.
“Hi Dudders! Hi Mattie!”
“Can we use your computer?”
“No, I’m writing.”
“Dudders, stay away from the table saw.”
“It’s not plugged in.”
“Uh-huh, stay away from it.”
“Because it has a sharp blade and because I told you to stay away from it.”
“She went back to the house.”
“Look guy, either in or out, okay?”
(five minutes later)
rattle, rattle, rattle.
“The door’s locked.”
“No, the door is latched.”
rattle, rattle, rattle. “Lemme in!”
You may have guessed. I installed a screen door on the cabin I built in the woods. It is a very basic door, just a wooden frame of unfinished pine but it has everything I need.
- Two screen panels to let the air in but not the mosquitoes.
- A spring to draw the door shut after the kids fling it open.
- A hook and an eye to latch the door when mosquitoes are not the only annoyances I want to keep out.
But most important of all, the door came with a special sound – creeeak… Bang!
I grew up with that sound.
It played percussion in the symphonies that were summers on Laurel Ave in Saint Paul in the 1950’s. Laurel Ave was a place of large families and no air conditioning.
The slap of a screen door carried for blocks.
Imagine the racket a couple hundreds kids can make blasting through those screen doors on their way to and from play.
But our screen door was unique, it came with another feature, a voice we will never hear again….
“DAMNIT!! EITHER STAY IN OR STAY OUT!!”
Followed by the inevitable rattle, rattle, rattle, DAA-AA-AAD! I’m locked out!!”
“No, you are not locked out, you are latched out. Now, go play and quit rattling the door. It won’t do you any good.”
29 thoughts on “The Sound of Summer”
Wonderful memories and so many of us can relate! Great post. My parents would yell “Open or closed! Make up your mind.”
I heard that door over on Dayton Ave!
So where on Dayton did you live? 🙂
Kitty corner from Gordon School.
We lived on Dunlap and Laurel
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again, gosh you can write.
Here’s my favorite line from today’s post:
It played percussion in the symphonies that were summers on Laurel Ave in Saint Paul in the 1950’s.
I know exactly the type of screen door you are describing.
My brother and I ran through a latched screen. That was bad.
This brought back so many good memories of my childhood, too. We did live in an apartment for four years, and I think what I missed most then was being able to blast in and out of the screen door each time I wanted to go outside.
I can’t tell you how many times I put my hand through the screen as I rushed to blow through the door. My behavior is how I learned to fix things.
This would have been a great story for that nostalgia thread that was going around a while back. I too remember the slamming screen doors from my younger years on a farm. As for the in and out, I’m reminded of a cat I once knew…
A nostalgia thread would have been fun. I will keep my eye out for one.
The WordPress Daily Post ran one on Sept 30. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/27030/posts/1172193071 . Maybe if folks added a nostalgia tag to their reader for that they’ll pick up on this story.
Hey thanks, I’ll check it out.
Great memories of screen doors in kid hood back in the 40s. Wish they had a cool sound like yours. 💛 Christine
Everyone had a screen door back then – and big screen windows that had to be taken off every fall and put back on every spring. It was a time during which few people had air conditioning. A baby with colic could keep a whole neighborhood up all night.
That brought back memories. In or Out! Good days.
The good days were those days when kids ran from sun up to sun down. Ooooh, the things we used to get into. I think back and shudder.
Ah, good ol’ peace and quiet. How we miss it.
We had peace….but no quiet. 🙂
Thanks for this. So reminded me of my boyhood.
There is something universal about it, isn’t there?
Most certainly. One of my boy hood friends dropped a cherry bomb between the screen door and heavy door and blew the screen door off. His dad (in stocking feet) chased him for a city block.
This made me smile. I remember the old wooden screen doors, and, I remember getting myself latched out.
And I remember all the doors we broke. They didn’t last long.
Sweet nostalgia! And the sign of a true writer, that turns irritation into a solid, evocative work–well done!
Thanks Liz, it’s an old Gather essay. How time files.
Or, as my great-aunt Rilla was wont to say — tempus fidgets. And it does.
One can say – tempests fidget also, given all the little tempests swirling about.
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