Appalachia children

Summer Imagination

Summer was such a great time and, like you said, it seemed to last forever.

During the day, I helped my mother in the garden where my parents grew almost everything we ate. I woke up on many a summer morning feeling like the day was full of promise and adventure and then got up to find my mother had already picked a bushel of beans, and several¬† five gallon buckets of tomatoes and corn, and it was all waiting for me. We might not finish all the “putting up” until mid afternoon. Then the rest of the day was mine, to roam with my dog or read in a tree.

My parents would sit outside in the evening hoping for breezes after the heat of the day. They went in the house when dusk came and the mosquitoes got bad. That was my favorite time of day, when the lightening bugs came out to light up the yard and the scent from sweet williams and petunias seemed stronger than in daytime. I would sit on the front porch where the concrete steps still held the heat of the day. We lived on a major highway and I would watch the cars pass, just headlights appearing out of the dark, flashing for a moment, then gone. I imagined that all of them were going to or coming from exotic, far away places. I have been to some exotic places myself since then, but I still like to sit on a porch at night and ponder the travelers passing by.

Ava Abbott


I hope you enjoyed reading Ava’s memories as much as I did. I like to wonder about people too. I don’t live near a highway to watch folks go by, but I’ve always loved to look at people’s houses and yards as I ride by on the highway. I wonder if they get up early like we do or if they sleep late and other silly non-important things about their lives.


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  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    August 22, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    I love to remember summer nights in East Tennessee. Lightening’ bugs were fun to catch and we could get paid for a jar full in Oak Ridge as the National Lab used them for experiments. My childhood is a sweet memory.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Thank you Tipper for sending it to me. I really enjoy reading all your post and every body else . We would catch lighting bugs , put them in a jar. We really thought that was something, and to us it was. When you live back up in a holler like i did as a kid, your so busy working threw the day, that you don’t stop and hear what’s around you. But at night, when everything is quiet, that’s when all the critters come out, and you hear everything. It’s amazing and beautiful to hear all kinds of sounds around you that you can’t seeat night. Thanks again Tipper. God Bless!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 21, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Those were the good ole days…I love listening to the “jar flies” raising and lowering their amazing sound in late summer. Just as one lowers his pitch, another takes off in to higher pitch. Almost like a contest of wing rattles. I try to count how many before another one raises his buzzing sound…My Dad said he was sure that the Jar flies and Katy-dids sawed off their wings and legs if you looked under the trees for them…This is when most of the lightning bugs have begun to fade away until next year…It has been very muggy and hot during this month but still a few lightning bugs remain that are hunting mates…Like in life a few get started later, I suppose!…So funny watching them flashing over areas that know mates existed a month ago!
    One can make out all the different little tweaks, squeaks and buzzes of all Gods little chirpy critters when it gets quieter on my hill…There is one little critter I especially love today that always sounds like it is saying…”Thisisit-thisisit! or “zzz-it-zzz-it”. I seem to notice it more when we pull up in the driveway while I’m sitting, waiting on my husband to walk down the walkway and unlock the door…It sounds like it’s telling me….”Oh yeah, you’re home…”Thisisit! This-is-it!”
    Thanks for this post…Tipper (and Ava)

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      August 21, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      Did you ever catch Jar Flies? You have to fold back their wings gently (like you do a fish so its fins don’t stab you.) Then pinch them, oh so gently, with your thumb and index finger on their back and belly. They will play their music right there in your hand.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 21, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I enjoyed Ava”s story about kids in the Summertime. Life was so much better back then and you couldn’t see the highway or cars when the leaves were on. We lived about a quarter-mile from the highway and had to wait till late Fall to play “taking cars”. Sometimes you had to wait several minutes before a car would come by. Times have really changed, now you have to wait for the traffic to clear before pulling out. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

    I grew up on the head of Wiggins Creek where no cars ever passed by. If we were lucky we’d catch sight the mailboy’s car before it turned around and went back down the road. We learned to identify the vehicle coming up the road before it ever came into sight. A car or truck were easy to keep separate but sometimes we could distinguish whose it was by the sound it made.
    A much anticipated biannual arrival was that of the motor grader cleaning up and leveling down the road. Don McGaha and Johnny Becker were the operators. I was always fascinated by the way that big machine operated. Rolling the gravel first to one side then the other then back to level again. And by how instead of turning the front wheels from side to side to steer it, they leaned them over like unto a bicycle or motorcycle.
    The grader operated at a crawl so there was ample opportunity to study the entire process. And it came back again to but the final finish on the road. I can see it now in my mind’s eye. Don or Johnny standing with one hand on that vertically placed steering wheel and the other on levers that controlled every other operation. Constantly shifting from side to side these men watched their progress from the glass sided cab in which they worked.
    At the end of the day the motor grader was parked near where its day would begin afresh in the morning. The operator locked the doors and left in a truck. If it was left at all accessible by little boys, before the engine cooled and the smell of hot grease dissipated it would be infested by them. Climbing, inspecting and peeping in windows. Marveling at and wondering how it all works. Making plans to someday be the man who drives that awesome machine.

    • Reply
      Wanda Devers
      August 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      We lived pretty far off the beaten path, too. Our rural mail man was always right on time and kids all through his route were waiting at their mailboxes for the candy he always gave us.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Days were filled with simple things back then. If you wanted a lantern then just fill a mason jar with fireflies. Evenings were usually for bicycle riding, and I usually liked to ride out to a place the mountain folks called “Lover’s Lane.” It was actually a very quiet little lane to nowhere in the daytime.
    At night sometimes we kids along with a stray neighbor kid would stare out a big window at the occasional traffic on the winding county road, and we would imagine all kinds of things about each car. We could see to the next mountain and would wonder about the ghost lights (probably cars moving on a far off mountainside). We were absolutely certain one night we saw a UFO. I am certain it was just a stray car or hunter on the mountain, but in our vivid imagination we could make it anything we wanted.

  • Reply
    Cindy Pressley
    August 21, 2018 at 6:56 am

    I remember sitting outside at night and catching lightening bugs with my cousin. The adults sat on the porch and talked and the kids played in the yard. That was a long time ago, seems like a different lifetime!

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