Sunday, June 6, 2021

Around the Kitchen Table: What Are Your Favorite Childhood Summer Memories? + #Giveaway

CLEO COYLE: The start of summer always revives wonderful sensory memories for me and my husband: the smell of fresh-cut grass, the crunch of corn on the cob, the splash of pool water, and swoosh and awe of fireworks. One of my favorite memories from childhood happened every year in early June.

Photos from our younger years!
Click here to learn more about us
and the books we write together
as Cleo Coyle.

After spending nine months cooped up in classrooms, we kids were rewarded with a special “school picnic” day at Kennywood, a charming, century-old amusement park south of Pittsburgh. As a budding foodie, I looked forward to noshing on the park's carnival food as much as riding its landmark wooden coasters. Corn dogs, candy apples, double-dipped ice cream cones, fresh-cut fries, and cotton candy (yes, all in one day of indulgence)! I loved it so much as a child, I even took a summer job there between high school and college. I was a “rides” girl and worked on crews that ran everything from the Ferris Wheel and Bob Sleds to the Pirate Ship, and even this locally famous old coaster: The Jack Rabbit...

Take a ride with us now in the front seat of this wonderful, landmark wooden roller coaster. To start the video, hit the white arrow in the center of the window below and don't forget to throw your arms up on the way down!

👇   👇   👇

This video is a real blast from my past and my husband's, who also grew in the Western Pennsylvania area. If you don’t see a window (above), click here to ride the coaster with us on YouTube.

Now it's your turn! 

Do you have favorite summer memories from childhood? 


MADDIE: I was a big reader as a child. I lived in an inland suburb of Los Angeles, the Pasadena area, so it was not only hot, it was smoggy. One of my favorite afternoon treats was whirring up chocolate ice cream and milk in the old two-speed blender. I would pour it into one of the metal mugs we had and take my shake and my book outside to sit under a tree to read.

My parents had planted apricot, yellow and white peach, lemon, and fig trees when they bought the house when I was four. We never had an in-ground pool, but most summers saw a big kiddie pool with the inflated sides. I loved to pick a big ripe peach and dunk it in the pool to "wash" it (as adult I wonder how many kids had peed in that pool...). I would sit on a swing eating it, then jump in the pool to wash off the juice.

Now I find myself slightly allergic to raw peaches, which distresses me. But not to cooked! When the peaches are ripe at my local farm stand here in Massachusetts, I make Peach Pie.


 LUCY BURDETTE: We spent a lot of our summer time at the beach with my mother's sisters, especially Aunt Barbara and her family. Sometimes we rented a cottage at the Jersey Shore, and sometimes a house in Hatteras, North Carolina. Our pets always came with us--dogs, cats, and guinea pigs. We spent hours and hours in the ocean, and when not in the water we played endless card games and kick the can. The adults played right along with the kids--such fun memories! We didn't have the extra money to eat out a lot (plus, four kids!), so those meals were special. My favorite was probably the fish fry at the Hatteras Fire Station. There'd be fried fish (caught that morning), delicious potato salad and cole slaw, and the biggest treat of all--hushpuppies!

PEG/MARGARET:  At least once during the summer, my parents would bundle us into the car after dinner and head to Asbury Park and the boardwalk.  We would begin to get excited when we crossed over the Driscoll Bridge and once we could smell salt in the air, we’d know we were almost there!  The  whirling teacups was the first ride we’d see when we entered the boardwalk and we’d wait impatiently as our father bought tickets so we could ride them.  Then we’d stroll up and down the boardwalk, which was all lit up and in stark contrast to the dark, mysterious ocean barely visible in the distance.  Oh, the noise!  Bells ringing at the booths with games of chance, people screaming as the roller coaster made its descent.  The smells!  Popcorn popping, hot dogs grilling and the ever-present tang in the air from the ocean.  We were allowed one treat and we usually chose cotton candy.  I can still feel the grittiness of the sugar against my teeth!  And then it would be back to the car where we’d inevitably fall asleep on the way home!


LESLIE KARST: I spent my formative years in Columbus, Ohio, and although my folks—both native Californians—detested the bitter winters and hot, humid, summers of the midwest, we kids adored the snow and fireflies that arrived with the change of seasons.

To flee the summertime humidity, our parents would drive us all up to Acadia National Park in Maine for a few weeks each August, and my most vivid memory of these camping trips is, not surprisingly, food-related. Each day, we’d head off to pick buckets of blueberries, which my mom would mix into pancake batter for a glorious breakfast the following day. I still can taste those plump, juicy, tangy-sweet berries. The flavor of summer. Heaven. (Here’s a shot of me with my younger sister, off for a blueberry-hunting foray.)


MOLLY MACRAE: So many wonderful memories of summer! In sifting through them, though, I realized the common ingredient to most is being outside. My brothers and friends and I seemed to spend most of our days and evenings outside. Nights, too, under the stars - no tents - rolled up in our dad's old wool army blankets. We led charmed lives exploring, hiking, riding bikes, swimming, climbing trees. And picnicking! We ate at least one meal a day outside, sometimes more (scorched bacon, eggs, and toast over a fire, anyone? The best!). The weather didn't always cooperate, so there were also Monopoly games that lasted for days, each of us clutching fistfuls of sweaty Monopoly cash and arguing over what rules to follow. Here's a picture my husband took of us carrying on the tradition of outdoor eating with our boys and my dear old dad one long ago June in perfect (ha!) picnic weather. Makes me smile every time I think of it. 


MAYA CORRIGAN: When I was 12, my parents drove across the country from the East to the West Coast, returning by a different route. The three of us in the backseat squabbled a lot on the way, but that trip was the beginning of a hankering for travel that my brother, sister, and I shared. Until then, our only outings had been the occasional weekend in the Poconos.

The place I remember best because we stayed the longest was Rocky Mountain National Park. I fell in love, not just with the mountains, but also with the local trout, my first experience with delicious fresh fish. Until then, fish meant my mother's perennial Friday meal of tasteless baked-to-death flounder. We drove on from Colorado, through Utah (Dinosaur Museum), to Las Vegas (where I illegally got the better of a one-armed bandit), across Death Valley (without air-conditioning in the car), to Hollywood, then on to Anaheim for Disneyland. The return trip highlights were the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert.

That trip also inspired my first novel, which I pecked out on a manual typewriter, finishing it when I was 13. The book featured a group of older teens on a cross-country hosteling trip with adventures at each location. I added a few places to their itinerary that hadn't been part of our family trip--a stop at a dude ranch and in San Francisco's Chinatown, where the girls solved the mystery of a missing jade statue. I look back on that summer as the beginning of my writing life.


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Loving all these great memories! My father was a fly fisherman before fly fishing was cool -- I never knew the story of how he took it up, but he always kept a fly rod and gear in his car during the summers and fished during the evening when his route as a traveling salesman took him near one of Montana's famed fly streams. And on weekends, we often packed a picnic in a big old split ash hamper -- my collector self sure wishes we still had it -- and drove to the East Rosebud or Stillwater rivers in south central Montana to "wet a line." I fished and swam, and read by the campfire -- mysteries, of course, starting with the Happy Hollisters, the Bobbsey Twins, and later Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and eventually, Agatha Christie. No photos of me reading by the river, so I'll share this one, on the sidewalk in front of our house, selling KoolAid from the Funny Face Drink Stand I won in a coloring contest! 


 TINA KASHIAN: For eight summers, I went to an overnight summer camp in Boston for two weeks. Camp Haiastan is a cultural camp--a camp for Armenian-American children, and I loved it. We did all the fun activities that summer campers experience, boating in a large lake, swimming, all types of sports, and arts and crafts. There was also an hour each day dedicated to language and culture. I met friends from all over the U.S. and even Canada (kids came from there, too), and I still keep in touch with many of them. When we drop our two girls off at the same camp each summer in Massachusetts, I see parents of campers I had camped with as well. As for the food, it was typical camp food and not very good. But that never mattered to me as a kid, and I looked forward to those two fun weeks every year. 





I loved seeing these photos and reading everyone’s happy summer memories.  I grew up on Cape Breton Island and my summer memories have to do with water views. 

Every year we would drive around the Cabot Trail, a stunningly beautiful trip over Cape Smokey with its twisty roads and steep, terrifying drops straight into the Atlantic. As kids, our job was to scream our heads off during the scariest parts.  My mother (nervous at the best of times) would cover her eyes and my dad would do his best to keep the car on the rough roads. 

When we made it alive, we would spend a week in a rustic cabin in Cape Breton Highlands National Park with day trips to dash across the rocky beach and splash briefly in the icy Atlantic before settling for the afternoon at the calm, warm lake further inland with its sandy beach. Culinary highlights included my mother’s very delish chicken sandwiches, chocolate milkshakes and ice cream sundaes at the local restaurant, and, in the evenings, nicely scorched marshmallows over a fire. Here’s to happy summers, my friends, past and to come!



To be entered in this week's drawing,
join us in the comments: 

What are your favorite summer 
memories from childhood?

Include your email address,
so we can contact the winner!

Comments Open through
Saturday, June 12.



> SCAM CHOWDER by Maya Corrigan

> DEATH ON THE MENU by Lucy Burdette



Comments Open through
Saturday, June 12

Don't forget to include
an email address!





  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Every summer we would go on a vacation. Some visits to relatives along with new places for us to see each year. My favorites were the years we went to the Frio River and went tubing. They had cabins along the banks that we stayed in. We had so much fun there. 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Almost every summer my family and I would go up to Montana. We go camping, horse back riding, white water rafting, and driving through Yellowstone.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

  3. That roller coaster looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing your stories. My friend's family had a pop up tent, and we would go camping. It was so much fun. Thank you for this chance. areewekidding(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Hi, Robyn - Thank you for stopping by! Many of the old wooden roller coasters are protected now with landmark status. The Jack Rabbit is one of them. These days, new parks are building super-high, super-fast steel coasters, but I still love these more gentle wooden coasters and the rickety click-clacking sound of their tracks. For me, nostalgia wins. xoxo

  4. We almost always went somewhere that I could go horseback riding. Although a couple of years we went to the Jersey shore which was fun.
    sgiden at verizon dot net

  5. As an old Army brat, our summers were first about Dad's 30 day vacation where we came back south to visit relatives from my Mom's parents and siblings living in Arkansas, by Dad's father and siblings in Oklahoma and and an Aunt, Uncle and cousins in Texas. Along the way there were fun things that made for special memories like going to Six Flags Over Texas or seeing the Carlsbad Caverns and the bat flight right at dark. There was fun times with cousins as we tried to do crazy things and not kill ourselves in the process and times along at my grandparent's farm where we learned to keep ourselves occupied without a TV by using our imagination.

    After vacation and back on base, we had summer school. It wasn't until my Dad retired and we moved back south that I realized to most summer school was a punishment for having failed a class during regular school months. While growing up, summer school was fun. It was where you got to go to school to take classes like art or join in a reading group to explore wonderful stories through the pages of books. Yes they had classes like math, and since I loved math, I took some of those too. The teachers made it fun to learn. Since you were there because you wanted to, there wasn't any pressure. The only pressure was if you were a constant goof off you knew you would be sent home and not allowed to return. Personally, I think it taught us early on that it was your own responsibility to learn, creating your future with how much you put into it and that learning can be fun.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win some awesome books! Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay - I laughed at your memory of trying to do "crazy things and not kill ourselves in the process," so true. My husband and I have some choice memories like that and can relate! Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your memories. xoxo ~ Cleo

  6. Every summer my family would take a vacation road trip. Sometimes out of state (usually in the Southeast). Sometimes we would camp with my grandparents and other miscellaneous aunts, uncles, and cousins at one of our favorite lakes. Some of my favorite trips were when we stayed in Texas and went to San Antonio, the Hill Country, or Austin. Once while touring the Texas Capitol Building, we rounded a corner and my sister ran into John Connolly, who was the Texas Governor at the time. My parents loved to travel and passed that love on to me. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

  7. Summer memories include my time at a sleep away girl's camp, yearly trips with our family to a resort area, and enjoying the great foods of summer. I loved my father's BBQ chicken, grilled aluminum foil wrapped whole onions with a pat of butter on top, corn on the cob, and red, juicy summer watermelon.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  8. As a child I too looked forward to summer vacation. A few days before school let out we would take our class field trip to a local amusement park. We loaded up everyone on the school bus and had a great time. We always packed a lunch from home because the prices of food there were out of our budget.I remember I would pack a lunch with treats from home in a shoe box until I could not fit anymore. Lots of sugary stuff , cake , cookies etc. Sadly the amusement park is no longer there so my kids missed out on all the fun.But good memories for me . 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com .

  9. Swimming in Sebago Lake Maine every summer till I was 16. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

  10. We were packed up with an 18 ft fishing boat behind the car. My grandparents had a cabin way way up North Wisconsin on a Lake. Generations of the family loved fishing. Pictures of me at 2in sweatshirt with the hood on my head, lifejacket on fishing pole in my small hand, tiny sunglasses on & the original pedal pusher pants. On a boat seat by myself like a Pro or some thing. Not fishing tiny bluegill but muskie. That's all you know when you grow up like there. Dad, granpa, and your Uncle fishing on the boat. Gran back at the house. Beautiful forest all around, wildlife, nothing build up back then. No stores. Sandwiches & thermos.

    1. Congratulations, Kathy! By now you know that you have won our giveaway (by random selection). Thank you so much for taking the time to share your summer childhood memory. We all enjoyed reading about your wonderful experience fishing with your family. You put us right back there on the beautiful North Wisconsin Lake. Take care and have a lovely summer!


  11. I, too, remember summer as the fragrance of newly mown grass, fresh tomatoes from the garden and honeysuckle. Mid-summer the Strawberry Festival was held on the town square. Carnival rides, booths, food, etc. It was the place to go and see your friends plus wear your new Bobbie Brooks short set and Aigner sandals!!! Oh the fun we had!!!!

  12. Swimming and reading--loved those open days to do whatever we wanted.

  13. I liked to go fishing with my mom & sister & the neighbors.

  14. We would go to Tennessee to visit family most summers but for a short trip, we would go to Atlantic City for a day or two. That was always fun.