When I was growing up, I was very envious of friends whose families went “on vacation” every summer.
Yes. VACATION. What an exciting word!
My friends went to the Alamo. My friends visited Disneyland. They saw snow in the mountains of Colorado — in the middle of July — and brought home a jar filled with water from Lake Michigan. They talked about exotic-sounding places like “Cocoa Beach” and “Lake Tahoe”, and told awesome stories about geysers and giant redwoods. Oh, yes, my friends got to go “on vacation”. They were the lucky ones, all right.
While daydreaming about all the exciting things my friends were doing, I’d pack up my summer gear, climb into my grandfather’s old 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline, and off we’d go to the farm. The huge house and the property surrounding it had once belonged to my great-uncle, Frank Zungs. When he passed away, the remaining siblings shared ownership. My great-aunt, Nina, who’d been widowed during World War I, lived there, keeping house for her brother, Mike. Each year in the summertime, my grandfather would join them there. Several other brothers also lived in the area, near the tiny hamlet called “Indian Grove”.
My second cousins, Cathy and Janie, would also come to the farm, and the three of us would set off on a world of make-believe adventures. Together we’d read stories of the Russian witch, Baba Yaga, and her little house on chicken legs, and then go running through the fields, pretending she was chasing us. She was known for eating little children, you see. The old wooden dock on one of the ponds served as her chicken-legged hut…at least until we grew tired of that game and made up another.
Sometimes we were world travelers, boarding our ship — actually a tiny rowboat — and setting off to explore. Other times we were circus acrobats, tumbling and turning cartwheels, carefully balancing as we walked all the way around the house on the porch rails.
On rainy days, or late in the evenings, we’d play upstairs in old rooms reserved for storage. Oh, the old clothes we found! Feathered boas, fanciful hats, trunks filled with colorful scarves, high-topped shoes, and more.
We loved playing dress-up. Even more, we loved imagining ourselves as glamorous stars. We all loved to sing, and we’d join together for impromptu shows. Our best number was “Side by Side“. Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money, and maybe we’re ragged and funny, but we’ll travel along, singing a song… side by side.
Other times, we’d rummage through the WWI memorablia, fascinated by the helmets, shell casings, old uniforms, and training manuals tucked away in musty corners. We’d run down the hall to my grandfather’s room, and suddenly we were reporters, pounding out stories of battles on his old Underwood typewriter.
Every day brought new ideas, new possibilities for unforgettable adventures, and precious memories that would last forever.
No, I never got to go “on vacation”. What a pity. While my friends returned home tired, cranky, sun-burned, and mosquito-bitten, I could only sigh and lament that I’d done nothing too exciting all summer long. Being chased by witches, exploring the high seas, performing dare-devil feats of balance, singing on-stage, and reporting from the Western Front…well, those things were only imagination.
Now, of course, I look back at those adventures, and I see how far I actually traveled during those summer months. Maybe I was really the lucky one.
Memories of my summertime vacations are still very much a part of my thoughts…and those old adventures served as inspiration for my historical romance, Summertime. It’s the story of a young girl from a rural town who’s gone off to live the glamorous life of a stage-star in San Francisco.
* * * *
For Ed Ferguson, life was far less complicated. All he wanted was Linnie Mae, but she’d left him standing alone at the altar seven years before when she’d run off to pursue her dreams.
Now, Linn Sparks has come home to Brookfield, Kansas.
But coming back means facing a lot of unpleasant realities: a strained relationship with a father who never wanted her, a mother whose grasp on sanity is slipping away, and the feelings she still has for the love she left behind.
Ed still wants Linnie Mae, but he knows she won’t stay. How can he spend the summer being near her and not get his heart broken again?
To see ideas and inspirations I used in writing this story, please visit my Pinterest board: SUMMERTIME
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