Saturday, June 18, 2016

Open Forum: Your Favorite Summer

Redartz:  Hello, everyone! As summer is arriving ( here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), our thoughts may return to some of those warmly remembered summers of years past. As that mellow haze of nostalgia enfolds us, please indulge me as I take us back...back...to:

My favorite summer ; 1975. I had just finished 8th. grade, and high school awaited in the fall (which was a source of great anticipation). The next summer I would be working, but at the time, I still enjoyed that youthful freedom. And I made the most of that freedom, bicycling all over town, back and forth to my best friend's (and fellow comic book fan) house. Pedaling over to Gene's Root Beer stand (best root beer in Indiana, imho). And, of course, once a week riding to the local newsdealer to check out the new comics.

 
 Speaking of which, some of the greats that summer included Steve Gerber's Defenders meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy. Giant Size X-Men was still on the stands, introducing the new team. Howard the Duck had a back up story in Giant-Size Man-Thing (and at the time I didn't catch the humor in that title...).  Indeed, those Giant-Size books were a real treat, and sadly they would shortly fade into four-color history (to be replaced the following year by the returning Annuals, however). Loved those, and of course the Treasury Editions; which probably made for an amusing sight- this scrawny teen,riding the public bus back from downtown with a huge Spiderman book filling my lap (yes, in those days we rode the bus, and without parental accompaniment). 


 That summer often found me spending an afternoon reading, either comics or paperbacks (perhaps Ray Bradbury, or Harlan Ellison). Listening to Joni Mitchell's "Hissing of Summer Lawns" in the background, or maybe Wings' "Venus and Mars" ( which featured , of course, "Magneto and Titanium Man"- I really wore out the grooves on that cut). 

 Other highlights of that summer: going through my first crush (on a girl down the street, who would come down and play "Hide and Seek" in our neighborhood some evenings). Helping my buddy's Mom run her frequent garage sales all summer. Mowing some neighborhood lawns to get some money, some of which went to my first comic convention that July. And as I've mentioned before, at that con, my friend and I spent the weekend indulging our fandom in freewheeling fashion, just the two of us, unleashed upon Indianapolis Comicdom!

Whew;  please forgive me; I'm getting all sentimental here...

I suppose, to sum it all up: the summer of '75 represented that last rush of childhood, the lack of responsibility, and the great luxury of time to simply enjoy being 15. Looking back, I realize how very fortunate I was. So how about you; was there a special summer for you? What touchstones bring that time back to you? Tell us about your 'certain summer'...

21 comments:

Colin Jones said...

The summer of 1976 is near legendary for British people who experienced it because it was the summer of THE DROUGHT when it didn't rain for three months and we had record high temperatures. The spring of '76 and much of 1975 had also been unusually dry so when the summer '76 hot weather began we soon had dried up rivers and reservoirs with extremely low levels of water resulting in nationwide water rationing. At the time it was almost a national crisis but now everybody remembers the summer of 1976 with great fondness, especially those of us who were kids (I was 10). Also, in July 1976 I was on a school day-trip to the zoo and I happened to go into a shop that sold American Marvel comics - I was already a huge Marvel fan because of Marvel UK's black & white reprint weeklies but I'd never seen actual U.S. Marvel comics before. I'll never forget the weird experience of discovering comics that were both cosily familiar yet totally alien at the same time. They cost 10 pence each so I bought ten - the only two I can definitely remember are Conan The Barbarian #62 and Daredevil with Uri Geller as a guest star. And of course, summer 1976 was the bicentennial which was big news in the UK too - I've always regretted not buying "Captain America's Bicentennial Battles" when it was on sale.

RobAnderson said...

I think 75 for me, too! 76 was great comic-wise, but my family had moved by then and that was rough in other ways. But 75 was giant-size marvels, treasury editions, pretty much all the stuff you mentioned, Doug! I think I was still picking up Marvel slurpee cups too maybe? Great summer!

Anonymous said...

Redartz, we could be twin sons of different mothers.

I too finished 8th grade in '75 and have many similar memories of the last summer of total freedom. On the comic book front, in addition to the ones you mentioned, there was the original Spidey clone saga (young me loved it), the conclusion of Panther's Rage (fantastic but dragged on forever), some great Master of Kung Fu stories, exciting new titles like Champions, Invaders and Iron Fist and of course more TREASURY EDITIONS! A few clunkers like Falcon turning out to be a plant of the Red Skull (I just pretend that never happened. Kinda like Kirby did.)

Tom

RobAnderson said...

Sorry, I meant Redartz when I said Doug above! :-/

Redartz said...

Colin- that drought sounds like quite an ordeal; interesting that so many remember it fondly. As for your felings upon seeing American comics: I sort of had the flip side to you. I'd heard of, and seen cover repro's of some British Marvel editions. Thought they seemed exotic, featuring multiple stories per issue and with unfamiliar covers...

Rob- great recollection of the Slurpee cups! Forgot about those...

Tom- yes, the Clone saga was big- ran the whole summer. There was the nice touch of involving that storyline in Giant-Size Spider-Man 5; most of Spidey's Giants seemed to be isolated from the events in the monthly books.

Humanbelly said...

So Redartz, Tom-- we're of an age, then? Class of '79, correct? Mathematically, Summer of '75 has to be the summer after 8th grade for me as well. But-- the summers I experienced in my little town, with my particular circle of friends, were all so surprisingly similar from, say, 6th grade through 9th, that I don't have a strong sense of "THIS was great about '73" or "'75 was the best because of THAT", y'know? Naturally, interests and taste in humor and level of "pretend" and awareness of peer pressure all went through a shift as we proceeded from doofy old-child adolescence into doofy young-teenager teenhood-- but it was so incremental that I don't think it registered to me at the time at all. Well, and I did tend to be a shade behind the curve in that realm. . .

And while comics were part of the ensemble of beloved diversions throughout ("diversion" from what, I wonder?? In the summer every one of these things was a "diversion" that we threw ourselves at as if they were a primary life-goal unto themselves--!), they were never the over-riding priority. They were one lovely piece of glass in the stained-glass window of what-we-did-in-the-summer(s).

Absurd amounts of "riding around" on our bikes. Multi-yard croquet marathons. Swimming for successive days on end, for hours at a time, at Diamond Lake, huge board-game/card game gatherings at the (in retrospect) extremely odd young man/"old kid"-s house a couple of blocks over, basketball, touch football, a zillion run-around-the-yard games and driveway games, a lot of cartoon watching, frenzied periods of drawing our own comics and cartoons, lots of clandestine candy & pop & ice-cream purchases. We really did have a grand time, in general. The happy aspect of it is that, contrary to what stories like "Kick the Can" seem to imply, we (or at least I) were fully aware of the good times we were having, and gleefully made the most of it. I think we "got" that this is what those summers were for-- and even as we were aging out of them, the Peter Pan gloss was beginning to wear thin. The brain changes. Enjoyment comes from other activities. Things that once delivered an unbridled sense of fun simply lose their capacity to continue doing so-- even if the activities haven't changed a bit. I think. . . I think part of being able to embrace the child that lives within you starts with being able to embrace the adult that surrounds it, y'know?

If. . . I'm gettin' too heavy, here. A bit stream-of-consciousness, that.

HB

Doug said...

I've been giving this some serious thought most of the day, and have actually done a little research to make certain my memories are lined up correctly.

I could go with 1975, as those before me have. In fact, I'd have no problem at all in declaring it a favorite summer. I went to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and checked the books on sale in June, July, and August. As a 9-year old, 1975 was not the first summer I bought or enjoyed comics, but it would have been the first summer I could say that I began the runs of several titles that would form the backbone of my comics collection. That, and the abundance of Megos and my introduction to the Slurpee cups mentioned above. However...

Inspecting film releases for the summers of the mid- to late 1970s pushes me toward 1977, when I turned 11. All the comics runs I'd noticed from my research into '75 were still there, but there were some new titles I'd added. It's the films that put '77 at the front for me. Let's start with Star Wars. It was released in the States on May 25, but you may remember that movie releases were much different when we were kids. Movies stayed at the theater for months, and I recall seeing Star Wars in late July/early August for the first time. That just wouldn't happen today. I also saw, most likely with my mom and sister, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, For the Love of Benji, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and Race for Your Life Charlie Brown.

We had HBO back then, so I had access to several other movies released that summer (admittedly seeing some of them in the fall): Smokey and the Bandit, A Bridge Too Far, The Rescuers, The Spy Who Loved Me, and The Bad News Bear in Breaking Training. Many fond memories of those movies, which of course I could have seen multiple times.

Like many above, bike riding, neighborhood games, etc. also populate my memories. O, to be a kid again! That's what great about this space -- we come here, and we are.

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Ooo--that STAR WARS summer was a good one too, Doug!
I believe that may've been the summer I made the big trip to the Chicago Comicon, too, and filled in my Incredible Hulk run. Good summer, yes.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm more in HB's camp on this one: a lot of those great summers of my youth kind of blend in my memory and I really can't say one was oh-so-much better than another. Tied to specific memories of doing a lot of reading (comics, sci-fi/fantasy books) and occasionally catching movies with friends, I'd say some really good summers ran from 1979 through about 1982 (when I started HS). The summer of 1979 sticks out in particular because it was around the beginning of that year that I really started to get into comics in a big way, regularly following specific titles from month to month, having discovered the X-men (Claremont/Byrne/Austin), Iron Man (Michelinie/Layton) Daredevil (with this new artist named Miller), among other things, and there was a great crop of annuals that came out in the summer of '79 - as discussed here a few days ago. The summer of, I think, '80 was also a good one for comics-reading as well, because that year my future brother-in-law loaned me his huge box of comics from the earlier '70s, which contained a bunch of mainly Marvel titles like Avengers (the entire Celestial Madonna saga), most of Gerber's run on Defenders, and the earliest issues of the new X-men (including GS #1). Man, I think I read all of those comics in that box three times over that summer.

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually, a correction: I just recalled that the summer I got all those comics from the future in-law was probably '81 (or maybe even '82). However, it was around the summer of 1980 that I a) discovered the comic shop in Salem, OR and b) sent out for one of those back-issue catalogs, and I began spending what little money I could scrounge up on cheap back issues - I had stacks of Marvels and DCs from the early to mid-'70s to read...

Redartz said...

HB- love your metaphor of the "stained glass window" of summer! Quite right, all those fragments blend together to create a memory of that time. Say, if you ever write a book, put me on the list for a copy...oh, and I wonder if we may have unwittingly crossed paths at that Chicago Con...

Doug- you make a good case for 1977. I completely spaced it on the movies, or I'd have mentioned "Jaws"; made me glad I lived far from the shore.
Also, you are right about the great feeling of "kid again" here. I find checking in here is like our "Sandlot" experience. Or like Steven King bringing back youthful companionship in "It" ( but without terrifying clowns, of course).

Colin Jones said...

Redartz, I think it was the many weeks of hot weather that people fondly remember rather than the drought - hot summers aren't very common here (in fact, today is the first day it hasn't rained for over a week, sigh). The mention of films reminded me that I saw "Jaws" in May 1976 - films took a lot longer to cross the Atlantic in those days. And another memory from 1976 - in August I rode a horse for the first (and only) time. After a couple of hours in the saddle I felt so sore I could barely walk !

Martinex1 said...

Great memories. '75, '76, and '77 run together a bit for me. I was playing little league baseball or riding my red Schwinn Stingray with the banana seat everywhere. I recall watching the Disney movies The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Strongest Man in the World matinee double feature. And if we got good grades, we got discounted tickets to the White Sox games. I think '77 was the year the Sox wore shorts as part of their uniforms. It was the 70s indeed. And of course '76 was the Bicentennial and my town painted all of the fire hydrants to look like American Patriots; red white and blue fire plugs with tiny faces and colonial garb. A new park was built in my neighborhood and it was very industrial, made out of concrete and metal pipes - I cannot even imagine such a thing today. There was a huge slide that was a triangle of reflective metal. That slide would heat up so much from the sun that you could fry an egg on it; my buddies and I would challenge each other to see who could stay on the longest. The public pool was open and countless hours were spent trying to dive off the high dive, but that typically ended in a cannonball or a belly flop. 4th of July festivities were always a big thing with water ballon tosses, Uncle Sam on stilts, and fireworks. Cherry picking in my aunt's backyard, eating watermelon, and drinking Fresca. My sister played with her Lemon Twist toy in the driveway. And my dad got a CB radio. We built go carts and box hockey sets. The Boys Are Back In Town was playing constantly... And everything was right in the world. Not yet ten years old and not a care.

Redartz said...

Thanks all, for the great memories shared today! Really enjoy hearing your tales of youthful adventure. And Martinex1, nice descriptions. Fresca was (is?) quite refreshing. Just one question, though- what was a Lemon Twist?

Graham said...

'76 was my best summer, too. I actually had Venus & Mars and, like you, played it to death....at least until it made that awful squealing sound that cassettes would eventually make when you played them. I discovered a lot of great music that summer for the first time in my 13 years.....Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, etc.... Also read a lot of great comics. I was doing yard work, making a little coin, and it was burning a hole in my pocket, so I really expanded my reading. I was pretty die hard DC and began moving toward Marvel.....reading all those reprints and then catching up with the current editions. Oh, yeah......my brother was also born in 1976....on my birthday. :)

Martinex1 said...

Lemon Twist was a plastic lemon attached to a rope that cuffed to one ankle. Coordinated children could get the lemon spinning while skipping over it with your other foot. It was kind of a solo jump rope; not sure why they went with the lemon motif though. I'm sure you can see a YouTube video of it somewhere. It was very popular mid 70s...at least on my block.

Redartz said...

Graham- that's remarkable, and very cool, that you and your brother share a birthday! Certainly makes it easy to remember. I can recall my siblings' birthdays, but once you start on nieces and nephews, it gets challenging.

Martinex1- thanks for the explanation. That Lemon Twist sounded like something to accompany that Fresca. No wonder I didn't get the reference, if it required coordination...

Humanbelly said...

Hey, BTW, Happy Fathers Day out there today, teammates!

HB

Anonymous said...

1976. I was seven, it was all about swimming at the lake, goofing off, reading comics, and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
"Blinded by the light..."
M.P.

(Also, the summer of '90. I finished my tour in the military. Free man! Yippee!)

Anonymous said...

What's summertime? Heh in T & T it's summer all year round baby! Well, my favourite, ahem, summer memory was just before I started high school when my mom and I stayed by my sister's house. To pass the time, my brother dropped off some comics. Not just any comics, I'm talking reprints of the Lee/Kirby/Sinnott FF run, Ditko era Spidey, and the all new uncanny X-men! Now that was a summer to remember!


- Mike 'I prefer winter' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

M.P., re: Manfred Mann's "Blinded by the Light." I totally remember when that song was getting extensive airplay - all the kids at my school used to love singing the apparently nonsensical (to us) lyrics.

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