Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

Today is day 192 of the year, 10 days past the midway point on the Gregorian calendar; there are 173 days remaining in the year 2024. These days mark the season of the Sun, summer is upon us in all its scorching beauty and the activities of the season are in full bloom: the local plunge on Division Street is open with young and old alike taking to its cooling waters for lessons, exercise and recreation, out-of-school students are involved in sporting contests up and down the Valley, locals and visitors are flocking to Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento and, for those with legal access, the Arroyo Seco River is their place of choice to escape the madding crowds and the oppressive heat.

While traveling recently through some of our southern states, I saw signs alerting residents that it was the season of VBS; which initials stand for Vacation Bible School and is, or was, a regular part of many young lives across the land. I’m not sure what local churches institute this into their yearly calendar, but it is obviously still a popular standard in the Bible Belt.

As a youth in Greenfield in the late ’50s and early ’60s I attended the Methodist Church where we had MYF and CYF, Methodist Youth Fellowship and Christian Youth Fellowship, with MYF for the older kids and CYF for the younger. These groups included activities designed for appropriate ages, most were of a light-hearted nature with the idea of having some fun in church as opposed to just sitting and listening to what the pastor or Sunday School teacher had to offer. It was as a member of CYF that I went on my first, and last, Snipe Hunt. Standing knee deep, at night, in the Arroyo Seco River with a flashlight and a gunnysack while whistling to attract the elusive little creatures is one memory I suppose I’ll never forget, more’s the pity.

And there was one little activity, if it could be called such, that involved members of both MYF and CYF, which employed a 2-inch by 8-inch board, mounted on two standard sized bricks, that was both ingenious and humorously frightening; at least it was humorous to those watching if not to the person chosen as subject of the activity. The idea was one of us younger kids was blindfolded and made to stand on the board with our hands on the shoulders of a person standing on each side, this was to steady the victim (for that is what we were in reality), while two of the stronger MYF boys lifted the board off the bricks.

As soon as the board was maybe six or seven inches off the floor, the two people standing on either side would slowly, and as evenly as possible, begin to sink lower while the two boys holding the board would move it back and forth a couple of inches. With our hands gripping the shoulders of these two and the slight movement of the board, we got the sensation that we were rising, and when the two were crouched as near the floor as possible, we were sure we were precariously crouched some five feet above the floor, a mighty frightening situation. Then someone would push us off the board and for a split second there was pure panic in our minds, and then we would hit the floor after a “fall” of only a few inches; the only time girlish screams were heard in that building.

Another summertime activity, for some of us, was the Summer Reading Series. I don’t know if this was instituted by the public school system or the churches or federal government, but it was a list of suggested readings for out-of-school students. I was one of those who did not need prompting from any sources to read a book; I was always a reader no matter the season and still am some 60 years later. At 71 years of age, I cannot come close to citing the number of books I have read in my lifetime, but it is a bunch.

At the present time I just finished a book that included essays by 27 psychologists and psychiatrists who warn us about the danger of electing an obviously narcissistic self-centered human being to the biggest office in the land; an act that surely is a possibility come November. (It is a frightening look at a very unstable personality with a vast amount of support from many Americans who, if returned to the Oval Office, has promised to overhaul our government with a plan of legal actions outlined in what is known as Project 2025. If allowed to happen, the America known to the world for nearly 250 years will no longer exist and in its place will be an authoritarian tyrannical form of government with a reality television personality in charge. At least we all get to see major world history in the making. But I digress.)

The book prior to the one resting at my bedside was one I have been through a couple times, is in fact one of the first books I read as a lad. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is not nearly as widely read by boys as when I was young, and that is a pity as it is a wonderful recounting of 19th Century life along the Mississippi River through the eyes of a preteen boy. I finished with Tom and moved on to “Big Alma, San Francisco’s Alma Spreckles,” a biography by Bernice Scharlach, which was loaned to me by our local History Guy John and is an interesting story about an interesting lady whose family still has a street named for them here in King City. So, what books are on your Summer Reading Series list?

And please everyone, do your best to avoid the perils of heat; stay cool, be cool.

Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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