A Summer Day in 1960s Pensacola


Our summer weather has me remembering summer life as a kid in Pensacola.  We’d ride our bikes, build forts from pine straw, play kick ball in the street, and run to the shelter of  a friend’s front porch or carport when the afternoon thunderstorms struck.  

If  it was hot before the storm then we endured even more sweltering heat after the rain. Steam rose from the pavement. The moisture was thick and the air thin.  If we weren’t soaked from the rain we were soaked in sweat.    We were kids without a care in the world except waiting for the distant bell sounding from the tri-wheeled snow cone truck.  It was the only cure for the miserable heat.  If we weren’t  packing a dime, we’d run home to beg our moms for one.  

I remember the day I played the game, “Find the Tossed Dime.”  I lost the game to a single opponent, me.  I didn’t find the dime and my mother scolded me for being foolish.  “Why would you throw your snow cone money in the grass?”  “To see if I could find it,” I replied with a shrug and tears. My friend gave me a “bite” of her snow cone and I vowed never to experiment with money again.

In the evenings we played hide and seek between our  yards.  As we  found ourselves giving into the need for rest, our little band of friends  gathered under a mimosa tree for ghost stories.  The older kids would dare us and we would try, not once, but nearly every evening of the week, to find Bloody Mary.   They told us if we repeated a certain mantra as we looked into a hand mirror,  in the dark utility room off the carports, we would  see Bloody Mary in the mirror.  We had no idea who she was or why she would appear but before we could say, “I can see you Bloody Mary,” five times while looking at the mirror, we’d run out of the utility room screaming for our lives!  We were great entertainment for the older kids who laughed at our gullible selves. If only we’d been wise enough to have ketchup on the ready and come out of the utility room covered in it!

By the time the street lights began to buzz and come on, we scurried home to meet our parents’ imposed playtime deadline.  We’d take a bath and fall on bed sheets  our moms had washed and let dry on the clothesline.  They felt crisp and smelled so good.  We dreamed of the next morning  — a new day of riding bikes, playing kick ball, being scared, and remembering to not toss the dime in the grass before spending it on a cherry flavored snow cone.