It was finally here, the last day of school! For me, the last day of school was like being an emancipated slave. I was one of those kids that never liked school (I did pretty well though) and would much rather spend the day at home helping my mother around the house. For that reason, summertime was always my favorite time of the year (I even liked it more than Christmas time)
I got up more excited about a day of school than ever before. I got washed and my mom put my hair into two neat puff balls. The year was 1990 and I was seven years old. Back then most girls in my class had their hair relaxed, but not me! It was fine though because I thought that my puffs made me look like Penny (Janet Jackson
’s character on Good Times
). Well the walk to school had never been as enjoyable as it was that day. As I skipped down the rugged blocks and across the rusty train tracks I thought about the oncoming freedom, and the thought had me singing in exultation. Once at school, we received all of our work back; nothing but stickers reciting praise. Report card; straight A’s. What a start to a wonderful summer! The bells of freedom finally rung at 2:00 p.m. and the halls of Mary McLeod Bethune
Elementary School were in uproar. I ran outside to the school yard proclaiming that I had gotten straight A’s. Grown-ups that I didn’t even know were saying “Good job”, “Harold needs tips from you”, “Gloria, that is the kind of friend you need”. My brother and sister and I raced home through the train tracks and the alley way. We all could not wait to enjoy the start of the summer. As soon as we got home we changed from our school clothes to our play clothes (we did that faithfully) and went right back outside. All of my neighbors were outside setting up for the annual
9th street block party. I was especially excited about that, because I’ve never been to one, and this year my parents agreed to let us go. Mr. King, our block captain was outside decorating the block with flags and banners. Everybody loved Mr. King; he was the mastermind behind anything good that ever happened on our small block. He was a tall, thin, middle-aged man who always wore an army green hat and kept a toothpick in his mouth. I asked Mr. King if he needed any help. I loved being around him and being his little helper. “No baby, leave it to us grown folks. Go have some fun” he said in his smooth baritone voice that I loved so much. That is what I did for the rest of the day and into the night. Play jump rope, tag and hide and go seek. The ice cream truck even came by and Mr. King treated us all with our favorite Jack & Jill ice cream.
I slept restlessly that night thinking about the festivities of the next day. I got up bright and early the next morning and got right it to the tub. Usually getting me into the tub was not an easy task but, not today! I was eager to leap into the events of the day. I put on my new Winnie the Pooh outfit and Payless sandals and was on my way outside, with my sister close behind. We ran into the street where a magician was performing magical tricks. He chose me to be his assistant. I assisted him in performing several tricks and he even let me have his magic wand. After that we played volleyball, then had lunch while we listened to the old folks sing kareoke. When we where done lunch it was time for the kids’ talent show. My friends and I watched unimpressed, and decided to get up on stage and show 9th street what we were working with. We danced our hearts out to an old MC Hammer song and went away with first prize, which was a plastic trophy and gift certificates to a toy store.
The rest of the night we played in the fire hydrant and danced and skipped carelessly in the street. It was a fun night, much like the rest of that summer. In that summer I was allowed to play outside with my friends contrary to previous summers, we went to Washington DC, and to Sesame Place. That was one of the best summers I have had. Summer is fun still, but back then it was much more appreciated, because it was innocent careless fun. I miss those days, but I will always enjoy the memories they bring back.