BRONX, NY – There’s been no shortage of sports shenanigans, political controversies, and other random rancor to sort through recently, and that’s all fine and good. But, to paraphrase Crash Davis, “Now I’m tired and I don’t want to think about baseball and I don’t want to think about quantum physics and I don’t want to think about nothing… I just want to be.” So, whaddaya say we kick off our shoes, kick back, and just let the warm weather wash over us? Here’s some random memories and other stuff I’ve always liked about summer. ,
Ice Cream Trucks. Growing up in the Bronx, there was an endless parade of ice cream trucks that would come rolling through our hood from sun up to well past sundown. Weird names like Uncle Roland and Bungalow Bar were peppered in among the frozen treat caravan, but it was really a two horse race between Mr. Softee and Good Humor. I gotta go with Good Humor though. I was always partial to ice pops rather than soft serve cones that would melt all over your hands in a heartbeat. And I’ll take the jingling bells over the played out Mr. Softee jingle any day.
Summer Movies. A great way to spend a sweltering summer’s day was in the air conditioned comfort of a movie theater. Our local theater would trot out Disney double-features to keep kids quarantined for days on end but, as far as the best summer movies go, there is no competing with 1980. As I’ve mentioned before, it was that magical summer that The Blues Brothers, Airplane, and Caddyshack were all in theaters at the same time. It will never be matched. But if you’re looking for a quintessential seasonal movie, you could also go with the one that launched Bill Murray’s big screen career, Meatballs.
Songs. If there’s any category that’s totally subjective, it’s the one that concerns best summer songs. I’m not gonna mess around here. I’m going with the summer of 1978 and I’m going with Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” Same summer, and nipping right at its heels, “Miss You” by the Stones. I fully encourage dissenting votes here.
Baseball. The most vivid baseball memories are the ones that were, in one way or another, odd or extreme. 1976 stands out above all the years. Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, the sweltering All-Star game at the newly-renovated Yankee Stadium, and the Chicago White Sox playing in shorts.
Summer Celebrity Crush. Short Matt was, and still is, Shaun Cassidy. I recall my brother and his Farrah Fawcett poster needing their privacy, and I definitely had it bad for Olivia Newton-John during her crossover from country to mainstream and eventually to the silver screen in Grease.
Other things. I think the Blackout of 1977 was fairly amazing. I also think that there should be a summer blackout every 5 years or so, just to remind us all how to behave and how NOT to behave. Summer camp for this city kid was a no-frills affair at my public school. But it built character playing Wiffle and kick ball and torturing each other with snaps and other assorted crippling putdowns in the sweltering heat. Days when no one was around were the toughest, but there was always shoplifting and setting things on fire. Good times.
OK, I’m done. Clearly, I’m still not right. Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, a guy who never experienced the glory of Donna Summer moaning out disco hits over a transistor radio.