By Craig Hastings
When I was a young boy I couldn’t wait for school to let out for the summer. It wasn’t so much that I was tired of school as much as it was I loved the heat the summer brought with it. Of course when I was younger it was all about getting up everyday to sunshine and the great outdoors. Living in a new and ever developing neighborhood, the kids already living here in Hillcrest spent many a day and night exploring the new constructions. First it was the trenches of the foundations that we were able to be used as our battlefield trenches playing army. When the interior walls went up the site turned into our headquarters. Of course there were always at least two new houses being built at the same time so each side was able to have their own headquarters subject to an invasion by the warring opposition. It was the 1960’s and a great time to be alive as a little kid.
Into my teens and now driving, my summers that I looked forward to changed in how they were important to me. Can anyone argue that the car cruising scene of the sixties and seventies was the pinnacle of the craze? The hot rodders of the fifties might weigh in with an argument but that argument certainly wouldn’t be that the cars of their era were by any means faster and better looking than those that were built after them. To this day the design and graphics applied to those cars of the late sixties and seventies have not been surpassed. Everything looks like everything else today. Warm summer nights of those years in my life were as grand as any that have ever followed. Our children have been cheated of so much. Socializing has been replaced by video games, cell phones, and television.
Entering my mid twenties and throughout my thirties my life really hit the fast track. I was doing something most nights of every summer and fall nights. I wanted it warm even then. Why? I didn’t want to be cold when getting in and out of my car several times a night when arriving here and leaving there. Doug didn’t seem to mind the cold much but I complained any time the temperature dropped below sixty-five. Yep, in Illinois summers were certainly something to be anxious for their arrival. I turned forty and it was time I decided to grow up or I was never going too. Time was running out. Along came Payton and Lukas. All of their summer stories have been told right here. They’re both driving teenagers that live with me but have their own lives now.
Never could have I imagined that maybe, just maybe last summer was the milestone, the last of my best summers because of what is happening to us now. COVID-19 is the biggest, loudest, wakeup call we could have ever imagined of my generation. You’ve read me tell you how selfishly I looked forward to summer because it was going to mean I was going to get to be out and about having the time of my life. Even with my wild and free years behind me, sons grown up not relying on me for their summer fun anymore, I still look forward to just being in my own yard enjoying the outdoors and especially warm summer nights. I never one time ever thought this might end because of some pandemic that the world can’t get it’s science around and stomp it out. I’m certainly not looking forward to worrying about my friends and family coming down with this virus and that’s what’s going to be happening this summer. For sixty-three years I guess I assumed summers were reserved for nothing but good things. Then along came COVID-19.
Someone with more control than you or me has slapped this world right up along the sides of our faces and has told us enough is enough. If there was one and only one catastrophic event that could befall this planet that it’s intention was to rally the populations together in one fight, one for and all for one, a pandemic is that event. Isn’t it time to stop pointing fingers to blame and join forces to figure out how to save this planet?