Summertime Memories from 1964

Jackson,. Newsie, Dad and Bar
Jackson, Newsie, Dad and Bar

Throughout the years while I was raising my four kids (beginning in 1954), I kept a journal where I periodically made notes about holidays, school, vacations, etc.  As an occasion arises where I think one of my journal entries would be pertinent, I’m going to post it just as I wrote or typed it back in the day (except for an explanatory note or correction of a typo).

The children will be known here by the nicknames their grandfather used when they were toddlers:  The oldest daughter will be Newsie (because she was as good as a newspaper for finding out the latest happenings), the oldest son is Bar (because he called Grandpa’s truck Bar and Grandpa called him Bar), the youngest son is Jackson, and the youngest daughter is Shanty (as in Shanty-Boat).

Summertime and the living is pretty hectic most of the time.  The days are filled with sounds of kids out playing – riding squeaky bicycles, fighting over possession of the sand pile, hitting baseballs off the garage roof, playing “mudders and fadders”, slamming screen doors, protesting the boys’ teasing.  

Jackson and the water hose
Jackson and the water hose

The days are filled with the sights of wet bathing suits, soggy footmarks on the floor, barefooted and bare-chested boys, tan and healthy looking faces, dust two inches thick in the backyard and grass two inches long in the front, blooming petunias and marigolds, a veritable forest in the back hollow with lush trees, squirrels, birds, chipmunks and a family of raccoons.

The days are filled with the smells of summer – the harsh chlorine smell of a carful of wet kids coming home from the pool, the smoky fragrance of wieners and hamburgers on the grill, the smell that permeates the neighborhood when someone bakes a cake, the fresh fragrance in the air after the grass has been mown.

Lillian and Penny, the dog
Lillian and Penny, the dog

Summer is filled with knothole games and the undefeated Sweeneys in their green and white uniforms, the much defeated Reds whose progress is followed avidly on TV and transistor, the harness horses at the night races and soon at the fairs, the neighborhood pools swarming with kids, the parks filled with families and picnic baskets, the roads overflowing with people and paraphernalia.

A knothole game at Oakley Park
A knothole game at Oakley Park

Life is hectic, true, and fun and as the song says, “lazy, hazy and crazy”!  L – July 11, 1964

Here’s a 1963 version of Nat King Cole singing about the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Note:  It would be 6 more years before Shanty came along to join us in our summer fun.

Click picture to enlarge.  The colored pictures are from a home movie and not of the best quality.

Knothole Baseball – 1960s

1965 Sweeney team - Frank is in the second row, second from right hand side
1965 Sweeney team – Frank is in the second row, second from right hand side

In 1965, my oldest son, Frank, was 9 years old and his one desire was to play baseball.  His father was a coach on a very successful and competitive knothole team sponsored by the Sweeney car dealership.  He got on the team and got a uniform (probably because of his dad’s coaching job) but rarely got in a game and served mostly as a batboy.  This is my journal entry for July 26, 1965.

“Frankie gets dressed right after breakfast and takes off.  Sometimes he goes to Oakley Park by himself and has a one-man ballgame, without bat or ball.  He spends most of his time running bases and sliding – his forte – and his clothes are so dusty he leaves a trail behind him.  He goes around with a ball in his hand most of the time.  

He loves baseball – his favorite is Frankie Robinson (Cincinnati Reds) – and he wears number 20 on all his uniforms and even draws it on his regular shirts if I don’t watch him.  He’s never too tired to go to the knothole games and is perfectly happy retrieving bats and helmets if he doesn’t get in the game.  The first game that the Sweeneys played, they lost and we were all pretty low about it, but Frankie said, ‘Well, what do you think!  We wouldn’t have lost the game if I had been in it!’  He wears his green and white Sweeney uniform with complete pride and confidence and doesn’t seem at all perturbed that he doesn’t get in the game until they’re several runs ahead.  7/26/65”

In 1966, Frankie didn’t make the Sweeney team but in 1967, a Cub Scout league was formed where every boy was on a team and had a chance to play in every game, where winning was not as important as having the boys learn some skills and have some fun.  Frankie’s team was managed by a Cincinnati Police Sergeant (last row center) and one of the coaches was his father (last row left).  Frankie is #4 in the second row.  Apparently, Frankie Robinson’s #20 uniform wasn’t available.

1967 Queen City Chev Team (1024x843)
It was so much fun that summer with the mothers sitting on the sidelines in big straw hats, watching all of the boys do the best they could (one mother noticed that her son was chasing butterflies in center field instead of focusing on fly balls), and stopping for ice cream cones on the way home – win or lose.

Click pictures to enlarge.