Wednesday, August 12, 2015

18,250 DAYS AGO

50 years ago or 600 moons as the Native Americans would say, I had just finished my freshman year at the University of Mass. in Amherst. It was the Summer of 1965! A half century ago. Yikes! I had a tough time adapting to freshman year. Big classes-300 students. Trying to figure out the best way to study! I got C's and D's and a few F's. I barely made it to sophomore year. And back then if you flunked out of college, you stood a good chance of getting drafted and going to Vietnam.

The previous few summers I had worked at Wequasset Inn in East Harwich, right on Pleasant Bay. I took care of the grounds along with a couple of other guys. It was a great job. We were outdoors all day and had views of the water no matter where we were. I mowed the lawns, landscaped, trimmed, smoothed the clay tennis court with the roller each day, raked around the new pool daily. On one side of me was Round Cove and on the other Pleasant Bay.

But I think I got tired of the long drive there every day so I got a job at the Harwich Laundry in Harwichport, right at the corner of Route 28 and Road, right across from Handler's Junk Yard. It probably paid more and was a much shorter ride I manned the large, commercial dryers. Boy, was that hot. The drivers would bring back the dirty laundry from the hotels and motels and all the napkins and tablecloths from the restaurants, they would go through the washers, and then were wheeled over to me. I put them in the dryers and when they were done, I wheeled them over to the large, commercial iron, where  they would get pressed flat, then wrapped and then get delivered.  One day it was so hot I drank 12 sodas and didn't have to go to the men's room once. I just sweated it all out. There were a lot of summer kids there and it was a lot of fun working there. The Cashen family ran the laundry and they were wonderful people.

When I wasn't working it sure was the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I played a lot of tennis with my friends Joe, Jackie and Johnny. We played on the courts at Brooks Park and over at the Dennis-Yarmouth high school. We played pick up basketball games next to the old high school under the lights that we installed. And we went swimming at Bank St beach, the same beach my parents, grandparents and great grandparents swam.

After we played tennis, we used to go to the A&W in West Harwich and I would get a quart of root beer in those containers shaped like a megaphone. And sometimes a small clam order to hold me over! The Wednesday night dances at the Congregational Church in Harwichport was the place to go. Hundreds of kids there listening to the DJ. We were always hoping to meet one of those "summer girls'  and have a summer romance but it never happened to me. I don't think they were too excited to see "locals".

When I wasn't going out nights, I listened to a lot of Rolling Stones records in my room on my hi fi set. No stereo then and a lot of the records were Mono. I also read the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. It was over 1000 pages so it took me most of the summer. I also played tabletop baseball games.

On the national scene, the Viet Nam war was escalating, there were a lot of Civil Rights activities in the South, the Voting Rights Act and Medicare were passed. But we didn't play too much attention to that. We were too busy working and having fun and being 18 years old and having our entire futures ahead of us, 18,250 days ago.