At the end of every summer the entire town got together for a weekend of carnival fun and the fishing derby.
Most years Mr. Pulaski won the fishing derby and Mrs. Kennedy won the pie contest for Blue Ribbon Blueberry pie.
She made the exact same pie every year and Roger (who always had the good fortune to be chosen as judge) always gave her and her pie The Blue Ribbon
Mr. Kennedy was never anywhere around.
Hercules the Lesser counted the days in August just waiting for Labor Day.
Labor Day meant school was just around the corner and everything was going to go back to normal. This year might be slightly less normal due to the fact that he had friends and were entering the eighth grade. This would be their last year at General John G. Pershing Elementary School.
Hercules the Lesser was also concerned about where Janice Coraopolis would be attending high school.
Booger Wilson loved to spend his summer days near the old creek behind Wally’s Fill ‘em Up Station out on Highway 101.
Sometimes he caught frogs and brought them home where he created a small safe place for them to live. By morning most of the frogs had hopped back to the creek.
Booger Wilson was happiest when he was around the gentle woodland creatures that lived by the old creek.
The Fourth of July meant barbecues and Blue Ribbon pie and watermelon juice on ice.
Hercules the Lesser spent the morning fretting over to things; his cowlick and his feelings for Janice Coraopolis.
Hercules the Greater was more excited. Tonight, would be his solo guitar debut in front of an audience at the gazebo in an afternoon concert.
Roger and Louise would be right up front with floppy hats on matching lawn chairs.
Booger Wilson was in charge of setting things up and breaking them down.
Miss Kravitz was going to accompany the fireworks with Coltrane at sunset. Everyone would be sitting in the grass facing up in the night sky.
Mr. and Mrs. Pulaski loved the summer because the days are longer allowing them to sit on the deck and drink ginger beer and play board games. Mr. Pulaski won most of the time because Mrs. Pulaski let him. She didn’t always yell “UNO!” when she should have yelled “UNO!” She was not averse to throwing the game.
She did it because you loved to watch him smile. He smiled when he won. He seemed to know she was letting him win which made him smile even more.
He never thought he bested her. He thought they bested each other and that seemed to be what summer was for.
Summer for Louise and Roger meant seeing a lot of the country in their midsize Silver Moon camper hitched to the back of Roger’s old Ford truck. They always packed a box of books and – after securing the Eileen Pulaski as a house sitter – they’d take off on the open road.
Mostly there was no plan. They crisscrossed the country like a mad tailor on a runaway sewing machine.
Mr. Kennedy loved summer because he could do all the things he enjoyed.
He could go to the casino and play poker. He was possibly the worst poker player on the planet. He was a competitive man, but he was a terrible player.
Bad gambling was not the worst thing Mr. Kennedy did.
The worst thing is he mostly did everything alone – not because the family wasn’t around, but because he didn’t want to be around them. Mr. Kennedy spent most of his time alone.
Sometimes in the morning Hercules the Greater’s mother would bring him to Grounds for Appeal the trendy little coffee shop run by a lovely woman named Wendy who may or may not have been married to a famous football player when she was a young girl. Many of the kids hung out there and strummed their guitars because Wendy let them. She didn’t allow rap music or Toby Keith, but she was always there with a good hot cuppa Joe.
Without the extra baseball practices – Hercules the Greater suddenly found himself with more free time he was used to. This led him into all types of mischief like hanging out in coffee shops playing all manner of folk music with his guitar and his new high school age friends.
He was captivated by caffeine – not nicotine and he was more into Cat Stevens than Catfish Hunter.
She used the money she saved from babysitting and from answering phones at Curley’s Pizza Parlor to pay the only two college admission fees she was interested in. She was applying to University of Southern California and the University of Chicago.
She never even gave any other schools a second thought.
She wanted to dedicate her life to the study of biology – in particular the relationship between people and the world they were leaving to their children.
She knew she would have to narrow your focus, but she had the year to do it. She would figure out the details once she knew which of the schools had chosen her.