Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forty-Eighth Summer

I hope you've read Seventeenth Summer.

You know... the one by Maureen Daly which she wrote around age 20 and was published way back in 1942. For me, summer isn't summer without rereading Seventeenth Summer.

I grabbed it from behind our bookcase glass today because I was nearing Bogged-Down-And-Bummed-Out by all those websites I gave you this morning. Those, and all the extra reading about our Country's corrupted food, what with all its chemicals and the whole microwave oven cooking being bad, bad, bad thing. And I'm still kicking myself for allowing Tom and my parents, one night 20 years ago, to talk me into setting aside my fears and agreeing to buy a microwave. I even remember sitting at the table with them and saying, "Well, ok. We can buy a microwave. But if it turns out to be dangerous, I will blame all of you."

Sigh. I so often obey that still, small voice and now I'm discouraged, sad, that I ignored it. And not just 20 years ago, either.

So that was how my day was going, though I knew I would feel better after making another trip to the supermarket for more organic stuff to replace the poisonous stuff in my pantry (believing pro-activity helps in these cases), but until that time, I thought, what I need is Seventeenth Summer. What I needed was some old-fashioned balance. So I snatched my nice old 1945 red copy and snuggled down on the wicker love seat on the porch and read some of my favorite portions:

"... The garden was still wet with last night's rain and the black earth was steaming in the sun, while between my toes the ground was soft and squishy--I had taken off my shoes and left them on the garden path so they wouldn't get caked with mud... The little tomato plants were laid flat against the ground from last night's downfall and there were puddles like blue glass in the hollows. A breeze, soft with a damp, fishy smell, blew in from Lake Winnebago about three blocks away. I was so busy thinking about the weather, the warm sun, and the sleek little onions that I didn't even hear Jack come up the back sidewalk."

...and ...

"My mother always lies down in the afternoons--at least, she has for the past three years, anyway. Right after lunch she went upstairs as always, turned down the chenille bedspread and drew the shades. Out on the side lawn in the shade of the house Kitty was sewing doll clothes and talking to herself in a quiet, little girl singsong. From Callahan's, across the back garden, I could hear the drone of the baseball game on the radio. All the little children were in taking their naps and already our street had settled into the quiet of the afternoon. I had to ask my mother soon for I knew that in a few moments she would be asleep."

Add to those a few more hundred such lovely passages which whisk you back to 1942, especially when you know that Maureen's book was quite autobiographical.

In fact, I used to almost cry when she'd describe going to Pete's in the evenings, an old diner on the lake, where there was even a beach for swimming. I wanted a Pete's so badly. And well, now I have a Pete's, though it's a hamburger place on a river and there is no swimming. But it's quaint and oh-so-cool and time travels me back to the 1950's every time. I'll take it.

As I said, I hope you've read Seventeenth Summer. There's a reason it's had a bazillion re-printings since its young author first blew people away 65 years ago.


~Jennifer said...

I had never heard of Seventeenth Summer. I'll have to check it out. It's taking me forever to read books lately, though, so no telling when I'll actually get to read it. :-)

elizabeth said...

You too? I was also talked into the microwave by my hubby. Now our daughter has lots of health issues...not sure that is why, but one wonders. Sometimes old fashioned ways are still best. And I agree with you...life is best when we listen to the small voice...but with age, sometimes comes wisdom huh?

Your book sounds lovely. Makes me think of our last abode...in a SMALL town in Washington state. It was like going back to the 1960's and even though I wanted to move out east to be closer to our family, still I cried to leave that place. Some have asked if I will go back...perhaps someday. It is wonderful to live in peaceful places where you find others who value people over other things.

Valerie - Still Riding said...

I crave the books I loved as a child, too. Anne of Green Gables, and the Flicka books dot my days.

I left you a thought today on the blog. Stop in if you find the time.

Saija said...

i had forgotten about the seventeenth summer ... thank you for awakening that memory! i wonder if our library has it? hmmmmm ...

violet said...

I HAVE read this book - and it was a great favorite. I didn't know who wrote it - now I do, thanks to you. I will track it down to read again. Great nudge!

Laurie said...


Yes, yes, YES! I've read Seventeenth Summer....3 times so far and my daughter is officially hooked too! She's read it 3 times as well! We share the same old red 1945 copy just like yours.

I don't know what the allure is - but the book just captures the innocence of youth and the wonder of summer all at once.

Glad I'm not the only Maureen Daly junkie out there!

Dapoppins said...

I haven't read Seventeenth Summer...but wow. What a lovely way with words. I think I may have misssed soemthing.

Linda said...

I just found your blog and love it. I wanted to comment on the Seventeenth Summer book. I read it as a teenager, and I was just thinking about this book the other day. I also want to re-read Paint Box Summer.

Debra said...

Jennifer and Elizabeth--oh, I hope you'll both read Seventeenth Summer before the summer ends. There's nothing quite like it... I think you'd both enjoy it! (Let me know if you read it, ok?)
Valerie--I'll pop in soon to your blog... I didn't discover Anne of Green Gables until I was 32, but I'm so glad I did. That was around the time the movies came out with Megan Follows and I still watch those sometimes because they're so lovely.
Saija and Violet--I hope you both will be able to reread Seventeenth Summer soon! Thanks for letting me know you'd read it before.
Laurie--I emailed you. :)
Dapoppins--I know your library will have this... I hope you can read it soon, for I think you'd like it!
Linda--welcome! You sound like a kindred spirit... I love Paint Box Summer and have my own old copy. It, too, is another perfect summer book. Every once in awhile at yard sales or thrift shops I'll see art on fabrics or wood which remind me of that artist's work and I always recall this book.
Thanks, Everyone! Blessings, Debra