Building Forts   Tomboys   Sun Tanning   Stingray Bikes  

60's summer memories

Building Forts

on a daily or weekly basis, my friends and I would often build forts out of whatever we could find. Bent nails, flimsy plywood, pallet sections and two-by-fours made up the main frames of our secret sanctuaries. The "no girls allowed" rule was strictly enforced. kid's fortStill, none of us could resist their charms as they pretended to be in awe of our structures long enough to stick their heads in for a peek. After having inspected our magnificent creations, they usually exited with an "aw, that's dumb."

kid's fort
Inside we'd make our secret plans; We'd discuss life and the world, what was on television the night before, what was going to be on that evening, and anything else that seemed important enough to care about under the shaded canopy of plywood. Usually these forts got torn down a few days after they were built, but we derived a great amount of pleasure in building the next one, and the one after that...



Girls were indeed an interesting phenomenon; they were creatures of mystery that baffled, bewildered, and confounded us guys to no end. Girls had their own culture, and with the exception of "Tomboys", they were really pretty much unacceptable in our manly circles. Tomboys were a lot of fun; they knew how to do the same things we did, and often did them better.

Sometimes they were even tougher, and could beat us guys up! As pretty, and saintly, and winsome as they appeared, some girls could whop you in the chops with relative force then return to jump rope as if nothing at all had occurred. Needless to say, they earned our respect. Interestingly, these girls weren't aggressive; they just defended themselves, their honor, territory, pony tails, younger siblings, or whatever else needed defending. In short, I shamefully submit that the girls who could beat us up were trouble that us guys had to intentionally go looking for.

Tanning on the Patio

tanning on the patio

During those hot summer days if I felt like tanning on the patio, I had to hose it down first before I could lay on it. That dry, dusty smell of hot concrete when greeted by water was a familiar summer scent. I could lay on the warm patio listening to the radio, and waiting patiently for my favorite songs. Sitting up, I'd be plastered with tiny bits of gravel and patio dirt glued to me by body sweat. Moms served Kool-Aid in those tall narrow patio tumbler cups. Maybe the flavor was grape, or cherry, or raspberry. Once the Kool-Aid was gone, I ran back inside for more; just a pull on that forward handle of the fridge, and I was greeted by a cool suck of air. It felt great. The screen door slammed shut behind me, and all around the neighborhood was activity. A basketball might hit the cyclone fencing, sending a rattling chime as the mesh shook from the force, or girls might be playing hopscotch on the sidewalk. It was summer, and anything was possible.

Stingray Bikes

stingray bikes

One of the first memories I have of summer is Schwinn "Stingray" bikes. Most of us kids in the neighborhood had grown up with the standard bike, be it Schwinn, Huffy, or whatever, and had never seen anything like these before. These were the coolest street machines ever! Designed to resemble motorcycles, every kid on the block dreamed of, and drooled over these marvels of modern bike design.

Mine was a purple job, modified like the one in the picture. Real men didn't use fenders or reflectors; I'd only left the chain guard on because it had the cool "Sting-Ray" logo on it. Eventually, the chain guard went also. Mine had the "Nobbie" tires on the back-supposedly for extra tread-but in reality, because they looked tough. At one point, I also had a "super slick" wide, slick tire in back. working on a bikeA lot of us guys would swap out bike parts because they weren't that expensive to buy, and it was great fun to trick out your ride.

It was also fun to work on our Stingrays whether they needed it or not. I think it was our equivalent to "popping the hood." As for accessories, A few of the kids on my block had the Tiger handlebar grips. Mirrors were also cool; parents loved them for the safety, and we loved them just for the coolness. Mirrors let you keep an eye out as to what was going on behind you.