Showing posts with label Summer Memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summer Memories. Show all posts

Summer Memories

Monday, August 22, 2022

Summer is beginning to draw to a close.  It's been fun, but it has definitely flown by quickly this year.  With the new house, work schedule, chasing the little one around, and other things going on this summer... I feel like I've barely blinked, and the summer rapidly passed by.  

While Autumn is my favorite season, it's always a little sad when I think about the passing of another summer.  All of the promise and potential of the summer season has faded, and half of what I set out to do never got completed.  

I once heard that you only get 18 summers to spend with your children, and this was already our third summer together.  I'd like to think the three of us here made the most of our summer together in our new home.  But like many people, I suppose, I always think about what more I could or should have done with the little one to make things more memorable.  Especially when my line of work takes me away from home for days at a time, the regrets caused by time begin to pile up.

My Grandfather always said the older you get, the faster time goes.  He even joked that he was so old he shouldn't bother getting out of bed in the morning, but I've actually read that he was correct.  While time itself never changes, our perceptions indeed do.  

When you're young, the days at school seem like they take forever.  It's all relative because, at a young age, we have very little to compare those hours to.  At an older age, 8 hours seems short compared to the past 50 years, but those same 8 hours compared to the past 8 years of a child's life seem much longer.  

It's all perception.  Of course, in 2022, we also have more things that occupy our time.  How many times have you pulled out your phone to "kill time," and next thing you know, an hour has gone by?

Summers went fast when I was a kid, too.  I'd have my whole summer mapped out when school let out in June.  Before I knew it, it was the middle of August, and our family was heading for two weeks of lakeside relaxation in Maine as we did every year.  We'd come home from our vacation, and we'd sometimes only have a week before Labor Day, and school would start again.  

The stack of mail one of our neighbors collected for us was one of the few things that took the sting off of coming home.  I'd rush into the house and sort the mail for myself, my brother, Mom, and Dad.  I'd search for my school schedule to find out who my teacher would be.  I'd then immediately call my friends to tell them I was home and see if we had any classes together.  Once the minivan was unpacked, I'd start begging to get Mom to take me to the drug store to pick up my new school supplies.  These days, Target puts up the "Back to School" supplies in June, but back then, they'd pop up toward the end of August, and the selection would be pretty limited.  

It was always a tough decision when selecting my lunch box.  Will this be the year that having a Batman lunchbox is no longer cool?  Could I get away with the Ninja Turtles folders and notebooks that I really wanted, or did I have to go with the dull solid colors to avoid the mockery of other kids?  

I've been quite busy these last weeks, so forgive this abbreviated post.  At work, I have periods where I'm forced to sit and do nothing, and that's when I get my best thinking in.  My mind has been wandering to summers of years gone by lately.

My last "carefree" summer was 1998.  I hung out with my friends, and we mostly watched and discussed pro wrestling.  In 1999, I got my first real job working for a landscaping company.  By company, I mean that it was just a guy with a pickup truck my Mom knew somehow, but I worked the backpack leaf blower and weed trimmer.  There was a nasty heat wave in 1999, just like there was this year, and I remember going out to work long days in 100-degree weather until most of the lawns were so dead there was nothing to cut.  I lived for rainy days that summer when he'd call early in the morning and say we were rained out.  Honestly, I'd rather he had called out on the 100-degree day and gone to work in the rain.

Every summer after that, I got a seasonal job to make some pocket money and fill my time.  I worked jobs that ranged from stocking shelves in a craft store to playing with dogs in a boarding kennel.  In the summer of 2005, I got my first paid flying job, and I've only flown planes for a living ever since.

I've spent some time thinking about those summer jobs and the summer activities from my youth.  I've written about most of those before, and rather than write a full-length article this week while I'm short on time, I'd like to post a collection of links to various pieces about summer memories in case you missed one or would want to reread them.  

Thanks for your continued support here at YesterYear!  Happy Summer!

Please Click "Keep Reading" for the list of links!

My Favorite Board Games Growing Up In the 90s

Monday, August 8, 2022

When I think of summer, I tend to think of things like sunny days, sand on the beach, and hot, muggy afternoons.  Unfortunately, sometimes old Mother Nature has other plans and it rains.  Sometimes it downright pours.  

Oddly enough, I loved rainy summer days when I was a kid.  On most days when it would rain, my Brother and I would roll into Gramp's and Granny's house next door to kill time.

Granny and Gramps often had the air conditioner running when we got there.  My parents never used their AC, so it was just pleasant walking into the cold air.  The chilly air blasting from the air conditioner, the carpeted living room floor, and the big TV right by the front door made for a great little retreat to play in for us kids on a hot, humid, rainy summer day.  


When we got a little older, my Brother and I would hang out at home by ourselves for most of the day.  We'd always head for the television and watch MTV and VH1 for music videos so my Brother could play disc jockey for the whole neighborhood.  Seriously... he'd open the windows and crank the TV as loud as he could.  When I got to watch a non-music-related program, he'd go upstairs, put his radio in the window (facing out, of course), and blast his songs of choice to the whole block.  Who could forget his "Thunder Rolls" era where that Garth Brooks little diddy was played on a loop ad nauseam?

It was on one of these days where we also discovered Pro Beach Hockey, which you can read about HERE.  

When he wasn't entertaining the neighbors with his musical selection, my Brother got really into playing the original DOOM on our computer.  I'd pull up a chair and watch him march right through the entire game in one sitting.  The trick was to make it look like we didn't just spend 8 straight hours at the computer when our parents got home from work.  Sitting next to him while he played DOOM was much better than when he played Nintendo.  I'd be banished from the living room or forced to sit facing the corner because otherwise, I was considered "bad luck."  

One of the ways I often entertained myself was to play some of the board games we kept in the closet by myself.  

I know, I know... most board games are played between two or more people, but more often than not, I was playing by myself out of necessity.  It's kind of hard to play against yourself, but I frequently looked at it like it was just taking extra turns.  Occasionally, if it was a weekend or evening, Mom or Dad would play with me, but my Brother never liked playing board games.  Or at least playing them with me, anyway.  

Board games were fun, even if I did have to play alone.  My wife and I still play them occasionally, most recently the Pan Am or Rear Window games from Funko.  Check it out with this Amazon affiliate link; if you're interested, click HERE.

Reflecting upon board games of the past, I figured we could all enjoy another stroll down memory lane as we make another entry into the YesterYear Summer of '22.  Let's look back at the 5 board games I played the most while growing up in the 90s! 

Five Movie Theater Memories Summer of 2004

Friday, August 27, 2021

In the summer of 2004, I didn't have much to do besides "work" a 5-hour shift about three days a week.  I had gotten a job for the summer at a hand-made gift and craft shop, and two weeks into the full-time job, they announced the store was closing, so all employees were cut down to part-time.  What was going to be a summer full of employment suddenly found itself with a lot of free time.  

On a good day, I'd ring up maybe three customers and stock some shelves.  Most days, however, I just spent my time running out the clock.  I'd spend my shift walking up and down the aisles, running the vacuum, trying to memorize the number of steps up and down each row, counting the ceiling tiles... I was bored.  A lot of it was spent singing along with the only music the manager allowed us to play (Frank Sinatra) and thinking about working out.   

I had gotten into the best shape of my life at school the previous year, and I had worked my way up to running 5 to 7 miles per day and lifting weights like a fiend.  I wanted to be in the best shape of my life during my final semester at college, and what would likely (and did) wind up being my last season playing organized ice hockey.  

That summer, most of my copious amounts of free time at home involved drinking 2 gallons of water, eating grilled chicken, running, lifting weights, and sleeping.

I was also excited because for the first time ever, I had a television in my bedroom.  I brought home my TV from school and begged Dad to run a cable line up to the 2nd floor.  Around that time period, the cable networks all began to move towards digital cable, away from the old analog signal, and required a digital cable box on each television set.  Before then, you could run one line into the house from the street.  Using a splitter, you could then have several off-shoot lines to different television sets.  When we first hooked up my TV, I must have had 50 channels, but it slowly dwindled down to just The Food Network and USA Network.  My parents wouldn't pay for a cable box for the few months I was home, and I really didn't have any money to pay for it myself, so after I got down to just the bare minimum, I spent a lot of time watching DVDs and mastering "Vice City" on Play Station.  

When I wasn't doing any of that, I was going to the movie theater with my best friend from high school.  

If you didn't read my article about 2003 movie memories (CLICK HERE TO DO SO), my best friend from high school was a bit of a loner like myself and didn't have much going on either.  He preferred to stay in his room at his parent's house and watch his enormous DVD collection or play PlayStation until all hours of the night too.  He'd tell me stories of spending hours on internet message boards at 3 in the morning reading about all things Avril Lavigne or new comic book movies.  

Looking back, we did quite a bit together that summer, between playing roller hockey at the park with some guys from the old team, to a game we invented that combined tennis and racketball called "Rackis."  

Most of all, though, we made sure to go to the movie theater at least once a week.    

In fact, on Wednesdays, our parents jokingly called it our "date night" because it was understood we were going to the movies that night and we'd be out late.  Being out late was unusual for the two of us because we were both the kinds of kids who would rather be home on AOL Instant Messenger than out partying every night like some kids.  Our parents rarely had to wonder if we were out dead in a ditch somewhere.  

We must have easily seen over 50 films that summer!  Some of them were terrible, some of them we should have never paid to see (I'm looking at you, "Chasing Liberty,") but most of them were enjoyable.  

Good or bad, though, some of them were pretty memorable experiences.  

25 Years Ago: WWF's Summer Slam 1996!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

When I began 9th grade in the fall of 1998, I was more than just nervous about starting high school.  I was extremely jealous of two of my friends.

If you read my recent feature about "Summer Wrestling Memories" (if you haven't yet, please CLICK HERE to do so), you'd have read about my time doing some backyard wrestling with my two good friends.  My parents didn't really like that I was into wrestling and wouldn't encourage it by buying shirts, posters, or tickets to live events. But these two?  They had it all.  

Everything, including tickets to SummerSlam 1998, with the main attraction featuring the two hottest acts in pro wrestling:  Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker.  

I was definitely a WCW fan, but I definitely wanted to be there to see it with a headline act like that.  To make matters worse, it was at The Garden!  Madison Square Garden was our "home" arena just 30 minutes down the Palisades Parkway and was the mecca of pro wrestling! 

I never even bothered to ask my parents for tickets because I knew the answer would be a resounding NO.  Come to think of it, Joe and Andrew never asked me if I wanted to go with them either because I'm sure they knew I wouldn't. 

So, I was definitely jealous when they both were wearing the t-shirts from the show on the first day of school.  They both had several great stories of their trip into the city, and I was green with envy.


That's how SummerSlam 1998 went for me, but for today let's take a look two years earlier in 1996 to make it a nice even 25 years ago.  Just as the Monday Night Wars were starting to heat up, WWF SummerSlam took place in Cleveland, Ohio, as Shawn Michaels took on Vader!  

If you'd like to read about WCW's summer tent pole event from that year, Bash at the Beach, CLICK HERE to read about the night Hulk Hogan changed wrestling and pop culture history in one night.

Join me on a road trip down memory lane into the summers of yesteryear as we look back on the 1996 WWF SummerSlam! 

How The Wonder Years Shaped My Ideal Summer Evening

Thursday, August 12, 2021

When you're a kid, you likely have a perfect vision of what "adulting" is.  That one item or thing that you'd be able to point to when you grew up and say, "THIS is what being an adult is."

For me?  I found my ideal "adult" scenario in a theme song to a movie made 30 years before I was born and in a rerun of "The Wonder Years" when I was about 12 years old.

"The Wonder Years" means a lot to me.  Speaking of "The Wonder Years," did you realize that "The Wonder Years" was made in the 1980s depicting the 1960s, and we are further away today in 2021 from the 80s when the show was from the 60s?  Wow, we're all old.  

For me, when growing up, the perfect "adult evening" could best be described with a backyard summer barbeque.  

Picture it, Sicily 1945... no wait, wrong sitcom.

Picture it, beautiful Americana, 1960.  The sun has set, and it's now late into the evening, and the party is just getting going.  Which is funny because in real life, whenever it gets dark out, I tend to get all "let's wrap it up quickly and go home."  Paper lanterns hang from a string over large crowds of friends, family, and coworkers, all chatting, dancing, and laughing.  Children laugh and scream in delight as they splash about in the pool or run through the legs of adults.  

I'm busy standing behind the grill, flipping burgers as I chomp on a cigar while my friends and I share a laugh.  

I picture Tony Soprano meets Jack Arnold, Sopranos meets Wonder Years.  

Either way, picture every piece of tacky Tiki party decoration from a place like Party City plastered around the patio.  Flamingos, hula skirts, coconuts, palms, lanterns, and tiki torch overload.  

I'd be in heaven.  
  
Of course, the music in the background must be "Theme from A Summer Place" by Percy Sledge.  What other song could play as we all share laugh after laugh without a care in the world?


Where did all of this silliness come from?  

Episode 23 of "The Wonder Years" titled "How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation."  

5 Summer Music Memories

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

I'm definitely not what I would call a "music person."  I've worked with some people that can spend hours telling me about their music collection, how they spent weeks perfecting their "playlist," or go deep into conversation about songs that never get air time on the radio.  I've had conversations about things like this with people about singers like Enya.  Yes, even that Enya.

That's just not my thing.  Sure, I can prattle off about pro wrestling lore or things from my childhood like Ghostbusters or Dick Tracy, and that probably bores the music folk just as much as their songs make my eyes roll.  I don't HATE music; I do have some songs I like, but that's about it.  I don't go "deep," as they say, and my taste is a pretty eclectic set of songs.  

The songs I really like tend to remind me of a moment in time from the past.  If I had to classify my favorite type of music, I guess it would be classic rock.  I'm not really sure.  Of course, being a Long Islander, it's basically required to like Billy Joel, and I do.  

In the car, I'd rather listen to my podcasts or talk radio.  I won't listen to the sports or politics kind of talk radio, but more the Opie and Anthony and Howard Stern "hot talk" format.  

That all said, I understand why most people prefer music.  For me, and I'm sure everyone else, hearing a certain song can instantly bring me back to a time and place, or even a specific scent sometimes, that I haven't thought of in years. 

The following 5 songs bring me right back to great memories of the summer times of my youth.  Hopefully, they spark a memory of your own!

Summer Wrestling Memories

Friday, July 23, 2021

With WWE's SummerSlam around the corner, I often reflect on how many of my memories of the summer revolve around pro wrestling.  

To be fair, I haven't watched WWE programming in quite some time now.  I'm a fan of AEW now, but I can barely find time to watch Dynamite on TNT, let alone their two YouTube shows and social media storylines.  While I still find AEW exciting, I still find myself going back and watching the "old stuff" from the early 90s that hooked me in the first place.  

Some excellent stuff happened in pro wrestling during the summer months.  The entire start to the nWo invasion angle in WCW took place during the summer.  Of course, you can also read my recent article about when Hulk Hogan turned against WCW and created the nWo at Bash at the Beach in 1996 by CLICKING HERE.

I always found the WCW tapings at Disney MGM studios fun and exciting, and those took place during the summer of 1996.  Who could forget the Rey Mysterio "lawn dart" segment during the groundbreaking backstage scene?  

I also have many fond memories of staying up late on summer nights using our old dial-up internet connection, reading the wrestling "BB's" on Prodigy, or writing up storylines for the Prodigy E-Wrestling Federation I created called the American Wrestling Federation (AWF).

After waiting for over a decade, we finally saw Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan's first real in-ring meeting at the summertime Bash at the Beach in 1994.

I have a "SummerSlam:  25 Years Ago" post coming soon, but wrestling in summertime always brings up some good stories from the old memory bank.  The following 5 memories are a fun way for me to document some of my own memories and maybe remind you of some stuff you haven't thought of in a long time.  

The Summer I Flunked Math and Fell In Love With the Airline Business

Monday, July 12, 2021

Let me just say... I hate math.  

I've never been good with numbers, and I was always much better at subjects like history.  I used to tell my parents (and teachers) that I didn't like math because math can always change just by using a different number, but history is concrete and never changing.  

Boy was I wrong.  Recent world events (and the media's reporting on them) have proved to us that history is only what people are told it is and not always the way it happened.  

Anyway, put plainly, I suck at math.  

In June of 1999, I was finishing up the 9th grade.  I had done fairly well all year and was looking forward to what would be my last carefree summer without a job or responsibility.  By fairly well, I mean I coasted with B's, when with minimal effort, I could have gotten straight A's.  

One afternoon a few days after school let out, my Mom answered the phone while I was on the computer in the back room.  Back then, I would have either been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator or on Prodigy reading about pro wrestling.  After a few minutes, I had already forgotten she was on the phone when she called my name with a tone that I knew meant trouble.  

I hadn't done anything (literally) for a few days now that school had ended.  Why would she be mad at me?  She handed me the phone with "the look."  


It was my Math teacher.  I don't even remember her name, but I remember thinking that it was funny she called me at home.  I had hated her class (and her, to be fair), and my first thought was of how I was happy to be free of her and her math class.  She must have called to tell me I left something in her classroom or something.

Boy, was I wrong.  

She informed me that I failed the Math Regents (a New York standardized test) and would be required to take a summer school course and retake the test in August.

Five Movie Theater Memories Summer of 2003

Monday, June 14, 2021

One thing that always makes me think of summer?  Going to a movie theater to see new movies! 

I love the entire experience.  The smells, sounds, excitement, and anticipation... even the funky black and neon carpet.


Growing up, we had a small 2 screen theater, but when I was in high school, they built what was at the time the second-largest mall on the East Coast only 15 minutes from my house.  On the 4th floor, there was a giant 25 or 30 screen Loews Cinema (at the time) but it is now an AMC.  It really was the first of its kind in our area with reclining seats, stadium seating, and a snack bar that was more than just popcorn and soda.  There was nothing available like the gourmet meals some places serve today, but a step up from just stale popcorn and flat soda at the other places.