I feel bad for most kids today. They are missing out on one of the most wonderful sensorial experiences in the world — the sounds of summer.
When I was a kid almost every home kept its doors and windows wide open 24 hours a day in the summer. The main reason was that very few households had air conditioning and the summer breezes blowing through the screened doors and windows were necessary to provide relief from the heat.
Additionally, there was little or no crime, and houses and lots were much smaller then, so most of us lived in tightly packed subdivisions or neighborhoods where everybody knew everybody, and everybody looked out for their neighbor and their neighborhood.
But, I digress. The result was that sounds from inside the homes could be heard from the outside, and sounds from outside the homes could be heard from the inside. It was a win-win for all involved.
Most kids today have never awakened to the sound of birds singing and chirping outside their window at the crack of dawn. Nor have they ever heard a noisy milk truck chugging down their street, stopping at every home to place milk, butter and ice cream into the two-way chutes that nearly all homes had back then. Few know what the slap of a morning newspaper landing on the front porch sounds like or the hydraulic whine of garbage trucks stopping at every home. Clocks ticked, bees hummed, toilets flushed and babies cried. It was a sunrise symphony repeated each summer morning that was as comforting and reassuring as a mother’s voice.
Evenings provided an even more entertaining cacophony. The Missouri twang of Ernie Harwell as he broadcast Detroit Tiger baseball games could be heard throughout the neighborhood. Crickets chirped and cicadas buzzed. Laughter emanated from windows dimly backlit by TVs. The riff of cards being shuffled at weekly euchre games. The inevitable bickering of children playing hide-and-seek or tag. This ritualistic and reassuring din would wane as the sun sank in the west, replaced by the pop and crack of the streetlights coming on in concert with the mournful, loon-like calls of distant train whistles.
Few kids today venture outside their homes in the evening, preferring to stay inside mindlessly clicking away on their electronic devices, watching inane television shows or listening to music wearing earbuds, oblivious to the sounds of life taking place outside.
Nowadays it is not uncommon for neighbors who have lived next door to each other for years to hardly know one another. Bigger yards and bigger homes are partially responsible for some of this anomaly, compounded by over-protective parents and a loss of the neighborhood comradeship that existed innately a mere two generations ago.
It’s a shame that so many kids are missing these magical summer sounds. For me, they epitomize the best of a wonderful childhood where we didn’t have much, but wanted for nothing.
The sounds of summer — they’re still out there, we just need to listen.
Opinions offered in If I Were King are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email the King at email@example.com. Some content adapted from the internet.