Ah, summer! We have all been patiently waiting for spring to show up, much less summer. But I thought it would be good to bring some summer thoughts into our head. One of the good things about living in my childhood town Friesland was its smallness( population 300, think Leota but a tad bigger). I could bike all over town and pretty much be only be about 5 minutes from my house.
Round, Round Get Around, I get Around
I liked how safe I felt biking around, walking around, or just hanging uptown by the Band Concert Wagon (I will explain this in a post this summer). Friendly folks who watched out for you and then the folks who tattled on you when you did wrong or THOUGHT you were doing wrong. But, that’s how small towns go, and for good or bad it was all part of the experience.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer was to pack a sack lunch, grab a friend and go biking around town to find a spot to picnic. In order for one to really call it a picnic you needed your sack to have a can of pop (pop is translated to soda in Minnesotan), I liked RC Cola at the time, so my lunch would contain one can RC. Then( and this was the SUPER important part) I would have to have a good dessert.
But first, dessert
Most mothers frown on dessert being the most important part of lunch. But desserts have secret powers, and every kid knows it. It gave you status and the power to negotiate for something even better in someone else’s lunch. It’s just like Donald Trump’s book “Art of the Deal”. Sometimes you have to walk away to get what you really want. You know, play hard to get and then go in for the kill!
My favorite dessert was Hostess Ding Dongs. I can still feel the thin foil that each chocolate puck of goodness gently wrapped around. Slowly peeling the foil off was also part of the fun. I loved to reveal the chocolate cover over the chocolate cake with the delicious white creme middle. YUM! To others, it may have been a foil hockey puck, but to me, it was Hostess heaven! Personally, my parents should have bought stock in Hostess, but that ship has sailed.
Of course, one’s lunch must contain a sandwich. This could be a p.b.j., a bologna sandwich, good ole ham, and cheese, but NEVER, NEVER cold roast beef. Refer to my article on Cold Roast Beef Sandwich.
X marks the spot
We were not terribly fussy about where to picnic. In fact, we would (not too often but occasionally) indiscriminately claim someones front porch as our picnic spot, and without permission just sit on their front porch and talk and eat. Some major hangouts were the Friesland Elementary playground (the giant merry-go-round was fun, spin and eat your lunch), someone’s backyard in a makeshift tent, down at the railroad tracks by the boys’ fort, the Katsma boys big tree house, or on the Band Concert Wagon. Photo Credit: Clkr-Vector-Free-Images
I am sure we surprised a person or two with a group of young girls sitting on their front porch. Can’t remember anyone ever saying “no”, but we sort of saw ourselves as having an eminent domain- there wasn’t much you could do to stop us. Like a roaming band of raccoons, looking to eat and then leave. We were good though and that probably saved us from being ousted.
Feltcha with a black heart
One property you never, ever stepped foot on was Feltcha’s. Feltcha was an old Dutch lady who lived along and she was mean. Feltcha had to have had some extrasensory detection for busy body kids roaming the town. She carried a broom every time she stepped out of her house and she meant business. “Feltcha with a black heart”. That’s literally how she was known in town, and the adults knew her as that also. Feltcha and her encounters with us will require an article or two, so stay tuned. She was what little children saw in their nightmares.
The best part after finding a spot to picnic was settling in to eat and checking out what everyone brought in their lunch. After a thorough inspection of each attendee, lunch negotiations began and participants did their best negotiating. Once you were finished with your “deal”, then chatter would start about what happened at our houses and Friesland “goings-on”. Things like: how much money you had to go to Band Concert, who had the fastest bike, who’s mom was mad at them, who was going to the swimming pool in Randolph and so on, were all hot topics of discussion. It’s too bad we don’t have more kids biking around making random stops on peoples front porches to picnic. The late ’70s- it was just a different time, different attitudes and a different culture.
As with most things in life, all good things come to an end. If your mom said you could go picnic then you could about bet there were chores to be done and that required you to come home. I guess that was the trade-off- you got to picnic but now you can work. I also think it was a check-in of sorts to make sure you were alive, especially if you went down to the tracks. The train generally came through between 11:30 am and 12 noon, so if you had said you’d be at the tracks your mom was on alert.
Hope my mom isn’t reading this but… I remember my brother and the Katsma boys hitching a ride to the bridge on the Caboose of the train. That’s another story for a different time. Whatever the case, it was fun. Fun to be free and safe to bike, hang out and eat and just be a kid. No TV, cell phones or video games- just plain old kid fun… and I really miss it.
Maybe we all need to make better use of our local park and picnic. Spend more time looking into faces instead of screens. Talking to each other instead of texting. Who cares if you don’t have a “picnic” looking lunch? Just grab a bunch of stuff and go. Sometimes spur of the moment is just what the doctor ordered.
P.S. Always be Ready For a Picnic
The best way to start going on spur of the moment picnics is to have a picnic basket stocked and ready to go. Check out these through our affiliate links. We’ll receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Our profits help keep this site going. Thanks
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.