August . . . . .



Something about August is sentimental. I think it is the sound of the cicadas. The sound brings back memories. As a child and even as a teenager, that sound was exciting to me. It signaled time to get ready again for school. I liked school, and summer was wearing thin. We went to town and bought a big Red Chief tablet, 2 pencils, some new pen points and an eraser.

When I was in grade school and high school (all in one building) the scent that met me on that first day of school was the freshly oiled wooden floors, and probably fresh paint as well. In grade school I was moving up to a new room and a new teacher. In Junior High I was moving up to new choices. In High School I was moving up to new privileges and new responsibilities. It was challenging.

We had gone through all these years together, and girls and boys had become like sisters and brothers. We wouldn’t think of dating them, nor were they attracted to us. Unless we somehow met a boy from another town we probably didn’t have dates. We just played games or drove around town or had a few awkward parties, but for the most part we stayed with the girls and the boys stayed with the boys. Out of all the kids we went to school with very few ended up together.

I was lucky to grow up in a time when families were close and we were not embarrassed to be seen with them, to travel with them, to have parties with them. Get-togethers often included people of all ages and we had certain party games that were hilarious. Some of them were a means of introducing the younger ones to new games and new jokes. And perhaps while we played them, others were out on the lawn turning the crank to make homemade ice cream and there were always pies and cakes for get-togethers.

There is one game that stands out in my memories. Picture this: We took a leaf from a table and placed it on the floor with two catalogues at each end, holding it up off the floor. Then we asked if anyone wanted to take an airplane ride. (They all did). So we had one young one come alone into the room stand upon the table leaf. and we blindfolded him. We asked someone to stand in front of  him, and the rider was told to place his hands on this person’s shoulders to steady him for the ride. Then we had an adult at each end of the leaf, ready to grab it and lift it higher and higher.

They actually lifted the table leaf very very slowly, shaking it a bit for reality, while those in the room who were  in the know, were saying things like “Oh, you’re going so high!” or “Be careful . . you’ll hit the ceiling.”  And to the person having the ride it felt as if he could indeed because, unknown to him, the person standing in front of him for support, was gradually squatting lower and lower. Having experienced this myself I can attest that to the one taking the ride it really does feel as if you have gone very high.

Then, the lifters tell the rider he must jump. The rider thinks that must be impossible but soon the whole room is telling him he must jump, right now. When he finally does he probably jumps three or four inches to the floor. Then all have a laugh together and they bring in another candidate who has waited in another room for his ride.

This sort of parlor game was passed down, I think, from generation to generation in those days. Was it just for small town farm families? Did it come from the “old country?”

Would kids today put down their iPhones and play a game? I don’t know. I just know we were friends with the older ones and still friends when we left home. And everyone laughs at the memory of their plane ride.

I will be 92 in August. Is it not amazing that I remember things like this but can’t remember the name of a neighbor I met an hour ago? Well no, it is not amazing. It is just normal.

Tell me if you played games like this too. And if August is full of memories.

And if you liked school. And even adults.


Doris Markland

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sara
    Aug 04, 2017 @ 02:11:36

    I too, think of August or, in my case September after Labor Day , with great nostalgia. Like my mother, I loved school. I too can smell the freshly cleaned and waxed school, the glue and the paper and the erasers and the chalk from the board. Mimeograph paper!!! Heady.

    My biggest joy was the anticipation of school starting soon…. getting to go to the store to buy my new outfit for school, my new stack of paper and pencils.

    I vividly remember playing the airplane game when I was young with my aunts and uncles, mom , dad, grandparents. It was so exhilarating to think that I was going higher and higher and I even felt the ceiling touch my head before I was made to jump. I played this game with my children and with my oldest grandchildren. I must admit that my younger grandchildren, now 13 and 15 , think it’s boring and they roll their eyes and are upset
    to have to put their phones down for a few seconds. The game has lost its magic. The ability to imagine I think has been erased from a young people’s minds.

    I am so lucky to have grown up in the ’50’s and ’60’s in Midwest USA. I am so blessed that, at 65 , I can still imagine all sorts of fun and exciting things to do today as I remember my youth with a smile.


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