Movin' On with Nellie: Parcel of summertime memories


In the aging dark blue Datsun, my son and I headed for Sesame Place near Fort Worth for our first vacation. As a reporter at the La Marque Times, I secured a free pass to the grand opening—a free pass, that is, as long as I wrote about the Big Bird’s summertime haunt in the weekly paper. 

I remember crawling behind my kindergarten son through those wavy-rope tunnels while water showers drenched us. We laughed and squeezed the water out of our shorts afterwards. With Wayne smiling, that pool of small plastic/rubber balls was a photo-op delight. As temperatures and humidity melted us, Wayne directed our tour; one of his favorites times was throwing balls at each other and diving again and again into the well of yellow balls. 

We saw Big Bird, and a rendition of Sesame Street with Oscar in the trash can while we were at the theme park, too.  Like others we purchased a box lunch and sat in the picnic area to rest and refresh. 

At 40, Wayne will have a picnic lunch with me now and then, still. This Spring, he made a morning pastry for us as we drank morning coffee on my back deck. A few years ago, we picnicked in the trees near Zapata Falls and later at the Greenhouse, part of the Sand Dunes Recreation and Pool Center in Hooper.

For me, summertime as a fifth grader was worth a trip to the Rheine in Germany. Swimming along the beach-like bank led to eating Push-Up ice creams, camping out with the family, and when playing hide and seek, calling out “Oley oley oxen free!” Gummy Bears was a treat I first learned of on that long summer tour.

When I was barely in first grade, the warm months in Texas was a chance to chase fire flies and capture them in jars.  Cicadas also danced for us as we fumbled after them. Daily, we gathered several grocery paper bags full of pecans that fell off the branches. My cousin Jerry, when he wasn’t fishing with my dad, sat with me on the front cement porch and peeled the green covers and shells off the pecans. Sometimes we had to hit them with a hammer if we couldn’t crack them two at a time in our fists. I thought that pecans were a necessity to everyday life. So, Mama would bake southern pecan pies, or add pecans to Ranger Cookies. Those were the snack times of summer!

This summer I’ve written about the kittens I watch and feed thanks to Cats Alive SLV; but I have also enjoyed Mr. Robin and his buds as they sing and select dried grasses for their nests or worms for breakfast in my yard.

Passing time with loved ones and meditating in nature are precious times. It seems I’ve learned that again, and again. 

—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

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