Summer in the city stirs memories of the past

Gerry Phelan
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OK, I didn't want to write about the weather, but I learned a long time ago to be thankful for what you've got and don't be afraid to say why.

The weather - God would never forgive me if I didn't at least send Him a shout-out, given how I used many a cuss to voice my soggy unhappiness last year.

I'll soon be flipping another page of the calendar, so I'd best say this now.

A recent stroll through my old neighbourhood in downtown St. John's brought back a flood of childhood memories.

Is it just me, or were the summers of the '60s and '70s just like this one?

I'm confident Environment Canada or CBC's Ryan Snoddon could tell me for sure, but I prefer to think so.

Juneuary and Fogust are words that remind me of cold and fog and drizzle.

I'd rather - and do - remember summers like this one, with double-digit temperatures for over a month.

There is something special about the sound of kids playing in a public swimming pool, and the creaking sounds of swings and other playthings.

Bannerman and Bowring parks have been like days of old.

They really have brought me back to my childhood when there were ice cream parties at Bannerman, and the Bungalow at Bowring had the best custard cones anywhere.

The rowboats in the duck pond were, to use my description then, swell.

In those days, we'd hear a whistle far of, and we'd run to the fence or the bridge and stare down at the train as it rumbled by beneath us.

We got older and the park became a cruisin' place.

It had more beautiful people than anywhere else.

Cars could go through Bowring Park back then and the banks near the old softball diamond were lined with guys and gals of all ages, tanning and sunning for all it was worth.

Of course, we've since learned that spending copious hours under the sun is not the thing to do.

There was a new thriving business this summer - the return of the lemonade stand.

On one walk, I could have enjoyed the beverage on three different streets.

I was also glad to see that inflation hasn't gone too far - 25 cents was a fair price for my tall glass.

Of course, beer sales have spiked as well, as have the sale of other beverages.

It has been a summer of barbecues and fans, and - who would have thought - I'm told people were even tracking down air conditioners for their homes.

Tourists have been dazzled by the icebergs and whales, and the caplin returned this year in a way we had not seen in some time.

All the road work would make you think it's an election year. I've seen more siding and roofing contractors in my 20-year-old subdivision than ever before, and they are like bees - busy, busy and busy.

The weather has been so good a lick of paint was actually dry before I reached the end of the same paling on the deck.

My hair stylist (I know, there's not much up there, but I do have a regular stylist) says she's noticed that people are in better moods this summer; not hard to figure why.

And I think most of us have seen more staycationers.

There has always been so much to do and see here, but the weather is sometimes an excuse to search out the sin and sun in other places.

Not this year.

Ah, the summer of 2012, when I could hang laundry bare-chested and it would dry, and fast.

There were days in July and August when I felt the warm breeze I have loved in the Caribbean and the humidity I've enjoyed in New York and Toronto.

I do have one favour to ask, suggested to me by a young lad on a motorized scooter.

Stop reminding children that they'll soon be back in school.

It comes soon enough, and the back-to-school talk is driving some of them nuts.

Let's let them enjoy this summer from heaven while they can.

Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at

Organizations: Environment Canada, CBC

Geographic location: St. John's, Bowring Park, Caribbean New York Toronto

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