In our small coal mine town in Pennsylvania, we ten and eleven teenage boys, eagerly awaited the first week of June, - for it was then our beginning of a summer school vacation. Like horses chopping upon the "bit", ears alert, to hear the sound of the final school bell! What a race to rush out of the door, and feel the freedom from studies, and the joys of three playful months ahead.

Most of our town parents allowed us the liberty of going barefoot in the summertime; reason: to save on shoe leather; each Sunday we wore shoes to attend church services. It was typical for an elder family member to shear off the hair on our heads (bald Head). What the Heck (Ya-Tah-Hax)! We didn't mind as we all looked alike. The hand clippers made me say "ouch" many times before the end came to the haircut.

Summer games were played with a lot of imagination, toys were non-existent. We loved baseball - but no ball to play with! So we would take a torn and discarded "baseball cover" and stuff in a ball of twine and then stitch it together. We used broom sticks for bats. In the neighborhood was the Mine Company's mule barn, with a fenced in area. Plying ball here we visualized the fence as a ball park - to hit the ball against the fence as a distance, it was accomplished rarely. During the course of one summer game, my boyhood friend and neighbor Chester Novack, unbeknownst to us, said he had sewn a new ball. He did not mention that he stuffed a golf ball on the inside of the baseball cover. Well, the ball was put in play with Chester at bat - One swing - contact made with the bat - and I never seen a ball fly so high and far - it sailed a long-distance over the fence and crashed through Mr. Zalewski's kitchen window. It frightened this elderly woman, as she was holding a cup-of-coffee that fell to her kitchen floor. That brought and end to our game - all the boys ran away to our different hiding places, in barns and woodsheds. Needless to say we were grounded from playing in that area for a short time.

Another game played was called "Bell-Ringer". We attached length of 15 feet baling wire to a ho foot pole - at the end of the was a tine-can. A boy in the center would swivel the pole, as we formed a circle with broom sticks on the outer edge of the circle. We would swing at the "can" as it whirled in the air....if you missed and hit the wire, then you took the place of the boy at the swivel pole. This as called a Bell-ringer.

Happy, happy barefoot summer days!

1925 Memoir Index Telling time