Being Beautiful: Remembering screen doors left unlatched


It’s hot as Hades in Mississippi and that’s even in the shade with a pitcher of ice cold lemonade.

I remember stories of the old days when kids would wait on the front porch for the ice truck to come by, then run along beside it hoping for a big chunk of cold ice to cool them off, or evenings when the welcome breeze blew in from the screen door left unlatched.

Now we lock the doors, and the milk man doesn’t come door to door with ice cream bars to help us cope with hot July. I have my own memories of waking up early in the morning just before the sun rose over my daddy’s hilly farm, cows patiently swatting flies in the pasture. I took such simple joy in walking barefoot down by the old pond with the velvety dew drenched carpet of grass guiding me on my path passed the tin roof barn, the mean spirited bull staring out at me, and way over the green hillside to my favorite spot.

I would sit for hours in the summer months on a bluff formed by God, busy beavers, and the streams bubbling from the pond dam. With nothing but bare feet, wanderlust, and my old dog George beside me, I stared back up at our stone cottage in the distance and pondered the que sera sera of youth. It was hot then, too.

The best way for my older brother and me to keep cool was to climb onto the hood of my daddy’s tractor riding shotgun on the way to the local swim hole. It was the darkest of creeks with a tire swing, clay bluffs that led to the banks and the cool water, and usually some familiar faces of neighbors and a few cousins. Mama was appropriately discombobulated at the idea of us swimming in the creek with water moccasins and unknown diseases from dirty water, so before I was too much older she convinced Daddy to have a swimming pool installed in the backyard. It was sublime.

Daddy said I would surely be on the Olympic Swim Team one day because, as he put it best, “My baby can swim from one end of that pool to the other under the water like a fish.” Those were the best of days spent with friends floating around on round black inner-tubes, Daddy’s old truck tires, without a care in the world. Terri Lynn, Misty Ann, and Vernon Renee kept me company on the hottest of summer days as we held our noses, jumped high off the diving board into the deep part of the pool, and kept our cool day after day in Richton, Mississippi.

The heat waves brought us all together, and they still make me wish now and then to be Peter Pan and never have grown up.

Contact David at [email protected]

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