Summer of ‘65’

The God who blessed our childhood continues to care for us through all these years.

In the summer of 1965 Jack and I were both happy-go-lucky nine-year-olds, living life between grades three and four. We grew up about 15 miles apart. Although we never met, I wonder if maybe we ever stood in the same lineup for ice cream at the Stoney Creek Dairy. That was one of the best places to be on a hot summer day.

Gasoline cost 30 cents per gallon. No one cared about fuel conservation. The only electric cars were the ones on a toy race track.

A kid with a bicycle was fancy free. If you told your parents where you were going and showed up on time for meals, you could spend hours away from home. We biked all around town and often to the nearest public swimming pool. Jack lived close enough to ride to Lake Ontario. He spent happy days constructing forts from scrap wood and cardboard, or zooming down the Niagara Escarpment with his buddies. Kids in our neighbourhood gathered together to play tag or hide and seek in the evenings. Everyone went home when the streetlights came on.

A nickel bought a Popsicle big enough to share with a friend. The Five and Dime Store offered a treasure trove of cool stuff easily affordable on a 15 cent weekly allowance. On rainy days we might watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island or Green Acres. Sometimes I borrowed my brother’s transistor radio and we sang along with four young Brits known as The Beatles. My father called their haircuts ridiculous and frequently suggested that they should do time in the military.

Mini-skirts rocked the fashion world. My friend’s mother, observing some teenager in a short skirt would often comment, “That young lady should have a party at her knees and invite her skirt down.”

Jack turned nine in June. My birthday that year was Friday, August 13th. Big words fascinated me, like triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13). Some folks believed Friday the thirteenth to be particularly unlucky. I thought it was neat to have it as my birthday.

This year we have another summer of “65,” as we both reach that golden age that entitles us to full Canada Pension and seniors’ discounts pretty much everywhere.

When I turned 30, I was fond of telling people, “I’m 30 and my husband is 30 too.” I repeated the joke every ten years. Until we hit 60. Somehow it didn’t seem so amusing anymore. Now we’re reaching the midpoint of this decade and I wonder how that’s even possible. Somewhere in my heart that carefree nine-year-old still lives. (I know it’s true for Jack as well, since I see the young boy emerge now and then.) Living on a farm, summer days are at least as much about work as play. We’re not exactly “happy-go-lucky” anymore, but life is still very good.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” says Psalm 139. The God who blessed our childhood continues to care for us through all these years. As we watch our grandchildren racing around the yard with youthful enthusiasm and boundless energy, we’re keenly aware of how swiftly time passes. While it’s fun to reminisce, there’s no need for undue nostalgia. Every stage of life brings its own unique joy. God is good through all the seasons and faithful for all eternity. That truth grows more precious with each passing day.

And guess what? My birthday this year is on Friday the thirteenth again! Is that cool, or what?

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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