The Summer Place — A Reprise

Written By: Roseann  LaManna

Looking forward to these months at  the Summer house keeps me  going all Winter.

The physical   conditions there are ideal. The peaceful bay across the road features  sunsets in bright pinks, lavenders and blues .

The  house is a  lovely new, sun-filled, air  cooled contemporary. The inside is all white –  white walls, rugs, sofas, tables .

From  the abundant windows a , deer can be seen feeding in the lush woods.  Just a few miles away is  the ocean .


A soul grown mean during  the school year from too much driving, too many phone  calls, too much wash, too many deadlines  could be restored in  this light, bright white land.


My family of six  includes a 19 (F), a 16(M), a 12 1/2 (M),a 7 (F),   and a 50(M) , my husband who makes it all possible.   He was at the Summer place as his work allowed.  Of  the four children, one  or another  was absent  for  short periods to  go abroad, to remain in the City studying the Dance, to go to camp. By mid-July, all were here , eager to capitalize on the job opportunities as well as the. fun and romance of the Summer .


12 1/2 has an entrepreneurial bent. To encourage such  constructive instincts, we decided to set up a stand to sell clams.  I dug clams  at low tide for three days  to amass an inventory.

Firm believer in advertising, I scrounged wood  to paint  signs.  “FRESH CLAMS”  proclaimed the two signs – one facing East  ,  one facing West. Holding one sign to which he had nailed a long stick and facing the East bound traffic, 12 1/2  called out “FRESH CLAMS”….. No one stopped….Well one man slowed  down; another  slowed down slower and  asked  “Chowders”? “Littlenecks” answered 12 1/2.  The next door lady  did come to a full stop. She  said  that she loved fresh  clams and  would  buy a dozen. Kicking 12 1/2 inconspicuously, I insisted that the dozen choice clams I selected for her were a gift from us .  when she left, I paid 12 1/2  the  $2.00 we were to charge.

After  that business dropped off.  The problem was our poor choice of day on which to open a clam stand.  Clams  sell well on the weekends,  We set up shop on Monday… We ate  the clams.


The needs od a 7 are simple.7s don’t date, shower, work odd shifts,  or have a learner’s permit.  Usually  they sit on the beach  making sand castles and collecting  shells.  But  a 7 with double digit siblings has learned there is more to life.  Early on,  7 learned  the word “bored”. To her it means  the absence of play mates. We spent a lot of time  locating other female 7s who we would pick up nd bring to our house. Frolicking  happily together , in and out of  the white house with  their sandy feet and  dripping  suits,   the two of  them would soon appear at the door  and  chorus  “we’re bored ” !  There was a weeks respite from ennui when  7 went to  Bible  School. She  did arts and  crafts, leaned  songs, and explained  the conditions for  Salvation to me.  The Library had a Summer reading program; 7  was  among  the four  children who read over 20 books.   Mainly,  7 logged mileage along side me as we drove the  others to and from  their jobs.


My 19 is a lovely girl –  slim  and beautiful with rich  chestnut hair flowing down to her waist.  She has a gentle refined demeanor.  A student of  the Dance and  World  Religions, she found  employment as a waitress in a diner .  Devoted to her art and fearful of losing her stretch, she  was at first, reluctant to leave her classes in  the City.  But  a  loving mother’s logic can be persuasive.  When I didn’t send her any money, she arrived. It  was touching to see the pink return to her sun-starved cheeks.  The diner’s  steaming kitchen seemed  to agree with her.

Tips earned in a diner are not the highest on record- even on those vein-popping days.  Accordingly,  the girls will work in more  than one eatery.  With a computer calculating  the permutations of the various shifts in the many establishments,  one  could conceivably  have four  jobs. This is especially true mid-August, when the college students who have been slaving since May, depart.  Panicked by the prospect of  being help-less by Labor Day, restaurant owners will hire anyone  who can fog a mirror.


Intelligence on the best tipping places spreads rapidly. There is a movement among the girls to the better places. My 19, heard of one such place and hastened to get hired there. She  was able to work the  11AM to 4Pm shift,  while keeping her  5PM to mid night dinner job also.  I should  mention that dressing for these jobs is difficult.  Each place has its own ‘look’.  One  might need  black skirt/white blouse  for one, brown skirt /tan shirt  for another, white uniform/red apron, still another..  harem pants, toga  – the combinations are endless,  At the end of the season,  the Thrift Shop shelves have been picked clean.


A typical day would find me in a parking lot, waiting for 19 to finish her early job,  the costume required for  the next shift hanging in the car .  Splotched with garlic butter, she would appear, too tired even for  the driving practice  she needed to pass  her third road  test.  I would drive to the next job. “Be  here at midnight” she’d say as she replaced her shoes on the beautifully arched  dancer’s feet she’d been massaging. I’d watch as  she ran to the powder room to change  costumes. Was this anyway to raise a lady, I wondered. ??


16 arrived at the Summer place after a month’s visit with family friends in Germany. His concept of preparing for a broadening foreign did  not include brushing-up on his German, nor  studying points of interest he was  to visit, nor reviewing the socio-political structure of the country.  Rather, 16  spent days prior to his departure transferring his Rock music collection onto a recorder which he religiously carried with him all over  Germany. A naturally taciturn fellow, his case of jet-lag irritability upon his return was  characterized  by an even greater annoyance  at the question everyone asked of him  “How was Germany ?? ”


But  he soon got into the swing of things and found himself a job in the kitchen of another restaurant. A person who works as hard as 16  is the employee of resort employer’s dreams. Driving  him to work at 7AM, he would animatedly describe his plan of attack  for the day  “I’l have the floors mopped and  dining room in order first.  Then I’ll clean up any left over pots and dishes.  When the manager and cook come in , I can start  the vegetable prep ”  It  sounded like  hard work to me, but 16 really liked the job. He did his work so “no one bossed him around or bothered ” him.  16 could listen to his music so long as it couldn’t be heard in the dining room..(They must have a sound proof  kitchen).

Along with the casual atmosphere, 16 could have anything on the menu to eat. The chef made him four-egg omelets . In  the course of any day, he’d consume innumerable  burgers with bacon,  slabs of cheese cakes, quarts of orange juice .  In truth, my food bill dropped.

Disheveled and bedraggled from his labors, 16 would shower and stretch out for a few winks before he made some calls to  locate  the evening’s beach parties. Sometimes he even woke up to attend one.


The ragweed is blooming and pre-season football is already among us. My husband, mostly deprived of  the fresh air and sun, looks curiously fit  and relaxed- (much better  than I) as he joins us  for Summer’s terminal days.   12 1/2  is negotiating with a local farmer for  the purchase of a quantity of pumpkins  he will sell at a stand  on a corner  at the other house.  7 lies on the sofa with a wet towel on her 102 degree forehead.  16 has gone to football camp with his high school team . 19 is working round the clock at  the now  help less restaurants. In her  free moments, she packs into rolls, her  quarters, nickels and dimes.

I have shucked and frozen the last of the clams, removed the finger and footprints from the white walls and floors, waved  good-by to the final house guests.

I’m tired from my vacation,  but  the prospect  of 19, 16, 12 1/2 and 7  returning to school brightens me.  I miss the other house ;  its old and  dark,  but  familiar.

In a place like  that, one  could restore a soul grown mean from……