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!
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.
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!
First Step, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso board
Taking that first step into a pool elicits the best reactions. All I know is there is nothing better on a hot day than taking a swim. Growing up, we had above-ground pools. Many of them, or so I seem to recall. My father would work into the night spouting his most colorful language. Then the hose would lay in the bottom and eventually, it would fill with the most frigid water. We would take that first step on the ladder and stick our toes in. If we were lucky, we would get an invite to the local community pool at Clifton Knolls-Barney Road, to be exact. Well, I visited there yesterday (yes, I was lucky enough to get an invite). The pool hasn’t changed much…and taking that first step from the ladder was brutal…for about 10 seconds. But gliding into that water, I was ten again. With the sounds of the splashing, the spring of the diving board, kids laughing, footsteps on wet cement…no better way to spend at least one summer’s day.
Hoffman’s Playland Boats, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso
Nothing is more regionally familiar to local families as Hoffman’s Playland, or should I say the boats at Hoffman’s Playland. It was practically mandatory for kid growing up in the area. Even with the recent move of Hoffman’s, I am sure the bells on those boats are still clanging! There was something mesmerizing about watching the boats glide round and round through the galvanized pool of water. We would grab the steering wheel and turn it with one hand, while ringing the bell with the other. It was about 3 minutes of nautical bliss…for a six year old!
Travers, 6″ x 6″ Oil on Gesso Board
As a kid, I remember my Mom going to Saratoga Race Track with her girlfriends every summer. After dousing herself with Aqua Net and Jean Nate, she would pile in a gal pal’s car, and off they went, hats firmly secured! I can’t imagine them actually knowing anything about racing to make a “logical” bet…(think Lucille Ball), rather, I am sure they bet based on the horses names. Granted, Saratoga Race Track packs thousands to place bets each summer, but really, the best part of Saratoga is the people. And so I better get spraying my Aqua-Net…it’s off to the races!
Evening Sky, 6″ x 6″ Oil painting on gesso board
There is nothing better after a stormy day than the beautiful evening sky it yields. We all share it, at least those physically close to us. Sometimes I think, “This can’t be real…I must be in the Truman Show.” The sun tries to hang on until it can’t any longer, and like us, it too, sleeps. I really don’t know where it goes…(I was out that day!), but I love that everyday, the sky gives us a canvas I’ll never be able to capture. No photographer or painter can really do it justice- you just have to be there, in the moment, taking that evening sky in…at least until tomorrow.