Summer is my favorite season – always has been. And for most of my youth, my parents put great effort into trying to ruin my summers.... every year they always sent me to Summer School.
I recall when I was growing up people often telling me I was “smart”. That was nice to hear but I was never sure what they were talking about? School was difficult for me; math in particular was always problematic. English was strange as well; I couldn’t figure out why we needed to spend so much time “diagramming sentences”. Who cares what the difference is between an adjective and an adverb is if you can use them correctly. [Those of you among my followers, who are professional writers, please cut me some slack here.]
In either case, I was a mediocre student during most of my school career, grade school and middle school in particular. As a result of my poor grades, my parents figure the best remedy for my poor grades was that I simply I needed MORE school. So each year I was forced to attend Summer School.
I viewed Summer School as punishment by my parents for not doing well in regular school. Summer School was horrible. For one thing NONE of my friends ever had to go to Summer School. So while they were out having fun, I was stuck in “school”. Summer School only ran half-day, so we were out of there by noon. But by the time I got home my friends were long gone who-knows-where! I spent many of my afternoons alone.
My parents were easily swayed by the propaganda about how much “fun” Summer School was going to be. Pictures on the brochure showed kids at the swimming pool, kids jumping on the trampoline. Bulls#*t -- The trampoline was only brought out ONCE; by the time the my turn in line came around the period was over and it was time to head back to math class. I never did get my 2-minutes of trampoline time. Oh and the pool – it was drained every summer for maintenance.
But finally Summer School term would end and I would luxuriate in the brief period before the regular term started up again. Finally I could ride bikes and hang with my buddies. But soon the “Back to School” ads would air on TV reminding me of the impending return to regular school.
By the time I was in High School my parents had stopped sending me to Summer School – probably because it didn’t exist for high schoolers. Most of my friends by then had summer jobs, I had one as well; picking prunes in Northern California. We worked in the mornings, spent the heat of the day swimming in the Russian River, and then we worked again in the cool of the evening. I loved it.
My grades in high school were all over the chart. I got “A’s in Architecture and Physical Education. My PE grade was an enigma to me as I was always the smallest guy in class and sucked at performing any sport except track. I think they gave me “A's” either for my effort... or more likely everyone got an A. I flunked Algebra three times in a row. But I did great in the sciences, Biology in particular.
It was expected in my family that I would go to college. But my GPA was pretty weak. At that time the Vietnam War was ramping up and lots of young guys my age were going into the military. On my 18th birthday I was obligated to visit the US Post Office to register for the Selective Service. It became very clear that if I didn’t get into college, and pronto, I would likely be invited by Uncle Sam to take an all-expenses-paid visit to exotic Southeast Asia.
College took on a new meaning for me – it served as my primarily deferment from being drafted into the Army. My grades were still mediocre but good enough to keep me in school and out of the Army. During those college summers I worked a clerical job for Greyhound Bus Lines. As I would sit at a desk surrounded by inane clerical people for 8 hours a day, I would reminisce about how much I missed getting out at noon back when I was going to Summer School.
I was never drafted.