Most of my summers growing up were spent doing exactly that. I would ride my bike around town, hang out with friends and family and not worry too much about what I would be doing the next day. I would take each day as it came.
Other than occasional trips with my parents or summer camps, I visited the public library or hung out at the swimming pool at the country club. In Winona, there wasn’t a lot to do.
During my teen years, I would still take it easy but also help my dad at his funeral home, cutting grass, washing hearses and cleaning up the parlors for a little extra cash.
I was involved in some school-related summer trips to places including Orlando, Fla., Wichita, Kans., and Baton Rouge, La., with an industrial arts organization I was part of during the school year.
Things started to change a little during my summer between junior and senior years. I acquired and held down a full time job with an employer other than my dad. I worked as a car hop at the local Sonic. It was an interesting experience getting a little more of a taste of the real world, reporting to work and meeting expectations of an employer.
The next summer, after high school graduation, I took summer courses through a junior college to get a good head start on my next phase of education. After that, I spent most of my summers either in summer school at Ole Miss or working an internship at a newspaper.
I reported to my first job out of college on August 7, 1995, as a reporter at The Winona Times. The idea of complete summer vacations was over. I was in the “real world” for sure.
Summers in the newspaper business are kind of a strange animal. In some ways they’re relaxed a little but still hectic in other ways.
With school being out, you don’t have the same hustle and bustle such as with various school-related functions, especially sports. Also, government-related issues tend to slow down a little. There just isn’t as much going on right now.
However, on the other hand, there are challenges. Because things slow down a little, finding stories can sometimes be a little more challenging. I have to work harder at planning.
Many times, I like to use summers to try to get things done that I can’t seem to get done other times of the year, both at work and at home.
This month of June was a little better in that regard. I am kind of bad about not taking my allowed days off during the bulk of the fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30, so I started this month with several days left to use or lose. I made more of an effort to utilize those days when possible.
History has its funny way of repeating itself too. Here I am, about 30 years later, doing what my dad was doing back then — working — while Emily is off from school and symphony performances, just as my mom was off from teaching. Aaron has been attending his daycare but will be off in the month of July.
I find myself wondering how, in only a few years that will soon fly by, he will spend his summers. I look forward to finding out and sharing them.
Chris Allen Baker is a native of Winona and serves as managing editor of The Scott County Times in Forest. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.