As I get older, I am finding it much more difficult to understand just exactly what it was about summer that I looked forward to each year as a child. Today, even with air-conditioning, the heat is oppressive making it very difficult to enjoy even the least amount of outdoor activity.

As I get older, I am finding it much more difficult to understand just exactly what it was about summer that I looked forward to each year as a child. Today, even with air-conditioning, the heat is oppressive making it very difficult to enjoy even the least amount of outdoor activity.

For the past several days there has been a heat advisory in effect for most of the state. While the temperature has yet to reach triple digits the heat index has neared the 110-degree mark on several occasions. It is very difficult to find much solace in the fact that the day’s high was only 97 or 98 degrees.

Frankly, I don’t recall it being this hot when I was growing up. However, I must remember that then I wasn’t spoiled to the comforts of a cool, air-conditioned indoors. We had a window fan that went full blast during the daytime hours. Mom would dress down to her slip to iron in the overbearing heat.

Me, I begged to go outside and play baseball. I do recall there were a few occasions that Mom told me it was too hot to play outside in the middle of the day; so, I patiently had to wait for the cool of the evening. Sometimes, we would get an early start and begin play while the dew was still on the grass.

Our backyard wasn’t terribly large except when I was assigned to mow it. However, it was big enough to play a version of baseball we called “whiffle ball.”  It consisted of a plastic ball and bat. It took a pretty good lick to clear the fence that might have been 200-feet from home plate.

We never had enough players to field a regulation 18-man baseball game. More often than not we played a variation of “homerun derby.”  The rules were simple – everything was an out that didn’t land on the other side of the fence in the neighbors’ yards. They were usually low-scoring affairs and could be played with as few as two people – a pitcher and a batter.

Then, there was the matter of the hedges that were lined up in foul territory on both sides of “the field.”  I can’t count the number of times that I got stung by a wasp while attempting to retrieve a foul ball from its grasp.

On one occasion my friend and I engaged in an 18-inning battle that finally ended with a “walk-off” left-handed homerun. I was representing the old Milwaukee Braves that day and he was the Los Angeles Dodgers. If I recall, it was “Eddie Matthews” that landed the homer that sealed the 1-0 victory. We both thought that game would never end.

During the course of the contest we probably consumed a gallon of Kool-Aid served to us between innings by Mom in those old metal glasses.

At one point, Dad rigged an outdoor light so my brother, Mike and some of his friends could play “whiffle ball” after dark. While it was much cooler after the sun went down, there was the problem of those pesky mosquitoes.

There were some days we would go to the community pool to cool off and enjoy a nice swim. Sometimes, the water was so warm that it wasn’t a very pleasant experience but there were times it was so cold and refreshing that you didn’t want to climb out of the pool. It was a lot of fun playing “Sea Hunt” with goggles, swim fins and a snorkel in an area where you had lots of room to move around semi-underwater.

Oftentimes in the evening my family and our neighbors would gather around their picnic table for some cold watermelon. My next-door Mom would frequently produce some homemade ice cream.

I guess there was enough friendship and family togetherness to make us forget about the wretched heat.

Oh such were the good ole dog days of summer.