Some Kinda Fun

A trip through the Granite State Wayback Machine

Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

When I was a kid, a family friend from Cyprus came to stay with us. There was so much to show him in New Hampshire! We admired the boulders at the Flume, sunbathed on Hampton Beach, and rode the Cog. He probably thought we did these things all the time. Rocks, water, and hair-raising rides up the side of a mountain. Typical.

But the truth is, you can’t just hit the highs all summer. Parents work and kids have to entertain themselves. But how? Let us cast our thoughts back to those hazy days before the internet, when instead of social media-ing or watching mindless videos, we hale and hearty children used to:

Visit the Moon: When my parents had the septic fixed, there was a mountain of dirt in the backyard. My friends and I crawled around in this dirt, pretending we were exploring the moon. Moon-creature me, wearing a colorful poncho, peeped from a depression. My astronaut friend Susan, in raincoat and pith helmet, planted a homemade sign that said “MOON.” That’s it. That was the whole activity. No internet required, kids!

See the Mystery Tree: When my mom was a kid, folks told of a strange tree that had two different kinds of leaves. They called it the Mystery Tree. Sound incredible? Well, it was true. They could take a ride, park beside the road, walk through a field, and gaze upon a tree with two different kinds of leaves. And they did.

Find the Bats: At least three generations of my family have found the bats. How, you ask? Crawl into the barn loft very quietly during the day and look up. There they are — the bats.

Adventure in the Jungle: My father and his cousins acted out “Tarzan” stories in the woods. My father made a pretend spear by sharpening a long, straight stick, which is actually the same as a real spear. His cousin was Tarzan, leaping through the air like a stag. My father enthusiastically launched the spear and skewered his cousin in the leg. “It was amazing!” my dad recalls. “It stuck right in! He went down like a rock!” Oh, I’m getting misty-eyed. Sing with me: Memmmmoriesss …

Eat the Roads: According to my grandfather, one of the most exciting parts of summer was when the blacktop would get redone. That fragrant, squishy tar would sizzle in the sun, and the boys of Canterbury would run out and pinch morsels of it to chew. And you thought bubble tea was exciting!

Meet the Peanut: My grandmother was from Danbury. “We used to meet the Peanut,” she told me. The Peanut was a train that came up from Boston. They used to walk across Lewie Littlefield’s field to meet it and see who got on and off. You may scoff, but one time Bette Davis got off and my grandmother saw her.

Visit the Dump: I tell my mom I’m writing about summer kid fun in New Hampshire. What can she add? “Did you mention the Mystery Tree?” she asks. Yes, I did. “OK. Well, I also used to ride my bike to the dump and back.”

Look at Pigs: I ask my husband what he did for fun as a kid. “Didn’t you have pigs?” Pigs sound interesting to me. We had goats, chickens, ducks and an attack rooster named Gobble Gobble, but never pigs.

“My uncle had pigs,” he says.

“That’s cool. What did you do with the pigs?”

“I looked at them.”

There you have it, friends. The wonders of a New Hampshire summer. Don’t take it for granted. But, you know, you should obviously not do some of these things. Especially eating tar, which would probably kill you, or impaling your cousins. Make up your own stuff. Now excuse me, I have some cat videos to watch.

Categories: Humor