Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on gessobord
Original page from Michne Camping Log, 1971
My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”
It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.
Who’s Thirsty? 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord
We didn’t have water bottles- there was no sippy box, pouch or fancy energy drink. If you were outside playing, and you were thirsty, you would simply turn on the spigot, bend down a bit, wait for about 10 seconds until the cold water reached the end of the hose, then take a long, long gulp swallowing, swallowing and swallowing. Of course, you would then offer the hose to the next sweaty, out of breath neighborhood friend. If you were on your game that day, you might remember to turn off the hose. Or, your father might step in huge puddle and yell out ” Who left the dam hose on?”
Cherry Kool-Aid, 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord
Making Kool-Aid was hit-or-miss. First, you had to have packet. Chances are, we didn’t have enough sugar to fill the measuring cup. Next, to find the pitcher- (dump out whatever old drink was brewing in that!) After accidentally snorting the unsweetened powder when you opened it, get your spoon, add sugar, stir, then pray that you would have ice in the ice-cube maker! If all was right with the world, you would have the perfect sugary cup of cherry Kool-Aid. All in a summer’s days work!
Remember Saratoga Vichy Water? Well, they also made Saratoga Ginger Ale! Of course, everyone had the Vichy water. My mother had it for every “adult” party. Each time there was a spill, it was “Grab the Vichy water!!” Not gonna lie, we usually had Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I resurrected this bottle from the Round Lake Antique Fest and thought I’d put the little sister of Vichy in the spotlight. What is Vichy water, anyway?
Frozen Pink Lemonade
After ripping the plastic strip off the can, removing the aluminum disk from the end, I would hold that can for a few seconds then wait for the “scccuuuupppppp” sound as the plop of pink creamy ice fell into the pitcher. I remember being in such a hurry to make it that filling 3 whole cans of water seemed like an eternity. The sticky, gooey mess would be left on the counter, along with whatever utensil could find to make it. Then, after selecting a glass as impressive as this pink drink, I would find the perfect spot to enjoy it. The ritual involved with pink lemonade hasn’t changed much and while buying a carton may seem easier, there is something about the canned frozen pink lemonade that remains my prefered method of classic, summer-must enjoyment.
Coke and a Smile. 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord
Detail: Coke and a Smile.
I feel for this generation that didn’t get to experience the Real Thing. The commercial- apple trees, honey bees and snow white turtle doves. Everyone knows things go better with Coke. Especially the mountains! Taking a freezing cold Coke out of a galvanized bucket of ice- there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer’s day. It adds life! It’s a natural! This video clip says it all! Classic Coke Commercial- Thank you Don Draper!
Underneath the deck at 10 Evergreen was magical. All you needed was a spoon and a Matchbox and before you knew it, an entire town was created! My brothers were experts at sneaking spoons out of the house. Spoons made the best roads, and let’s admit it, they did the work of the backhoe and bulldozer! The sand was great under the deck-perfect for easy construction. Of course, there were a few boulders (pebbles), rivers (rain dripping through the slots) and the the occasional heat blast (the dryer vent), but overcoming those obstacles is what made the pastime exciting.
Hot Mess: 6″ x 6″ oil on gessobord
Cherry pie from fresh cherries? Nonsense! Who needs fresh when the can are so tasty! Nothing is more American than a slice of pie on the 4th of July! Hope you had yours! Happy 4th! And yes, this painting and the pie were a hot mess, but oh so delicious!
As the “Summer as it was…” daily painting series comes to a close, I leave you with this…
If you only read one of my blog posts, read this. This was a summer I will cherish forever. I made tangible the fond memories of my childhood, and hopefully yours, too. The story doesn’t end here. I hope to publish or license the images via a book encompassing these paintings along with the American cultural phenomenon during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Plus, I want a cool t-shirt with the salt water taffy painting on it! You may be wondering if I have a favorite. No, I don’t. There are a few that as an artist, I struggled with technically. But I’ll let you guess which ones those are. Tomorrow, I start a new job at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY. I will be teaching art. I was an art student in the very wing I will be teaching in. It is where I attended school my entire childhood. I find it fitting that as “Summer as it was….” wraps up, it might as well be 1972 and tomorrow, I am going back to school. I hope you enjoyed these paintings. I hope they triggered a memory or a smile. I will be making available prints and am looking for a venue to show the entire collection. Thank you to all who “liked” or took the time to leave a comment. I also want to thank Peter Fiore who inspired me and challenged me to paint every day for 100 days. I painted for 70 days and, well, that’s works too! For now, it’s time to order more paint and start the next project!
Green to Red, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
It happens every year, but as soon as I see that first green leaf turn to red, I’m always a bit in shock. Already? Seems like summer has just started. As a kid, I don’t think I was terribly aware of summer ending by the changing foliage. I think the crickets chirping a bit slower and it getting dark earlier made more of an impression on me. And going back to school shopping. I remember sitting in the Colonie Center parking lot with my brothers and sister while my parents went shopping in Sears for Toughskins. I would stare at the Macy’s and Sears signs and try to picture how big those letters really were. With my two new outfits, and my red Tartan plaid bookbag, I was ready to start school…in Summer as it Was…