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It caught me unprepared for the tears as I wrote in my journal “August 1, 2013”. It’s strange the way unexpected things trigger the memories.
I suppose August is an important month for every child of my generation. In those days, before the schools were air conditioned, summer vacation lasted from around the first of June until the first of September. August 1st was the sign that the summer we had looked forward to was 2/3 over and we would soon be headed back to school and whatever adventure awaited us for the new year.
In my family it was even more important as there were many deadlines during this month. If there was to be a family vacation at all it was during August when my father always thought the summer emergencies in the air-conditioning and refrigeration business would have been taken care of and those autumn routines had yet to begin. My mother, being tired of the summer heat, was ready to head to the mountains of North Georgia or Carolina, thinking it would be cooler.
Then there was the shopping, both for our school supplies and fall clothes and shoes and also summer clothes, which were on sale in August and would be taken on our trip. Of course these had to be purchased a bit too large so we could wear them the following summer also. I was jealous of my sisters as they got my hand-me-downs and also new ones of their own. Sometimes I got an extra outfit when I complained about this obvious unfairness.
But the biggest things were the birthday celebrations. Beginning with my grandmother’s birthday on August 19 there was a steady stream. My younger sister’s was on August 20, my Aunt Louise’s (Mother’s sister) was on the 24th and Mother’s birthday was on the 29th. My father said we supported the neighborhood bakery, because the kitchen was entirely too hot to bake even one cake, certainly not four of them.
We were encouraged to make a card for our Grandmother and Aunt. Mother would get them each a gift and put all our names on it or sometimes several smaller gifts so we could have our own. For my sister, I either gave her something of mine or made something for her. After I learned to sew I made new dresses for her favorite doll. But my favorite was when my father would take my sister and myself shopping for a gift for Mother. Other than going to church, we rarely did anything with Daddy and on this day, usually the day before her birthday, we would go shopping in Decatur and have an ice cream treat at Miss Georgia Ice Cream. It seemed a special time. It also meant my mother had a day to herself, which was probably a part of the birthday treat.
It’s been a lot of years since I’ve had the need for back-to-school clothes and supplies. And, once I was on my own, September or October became the time for my vacations. But this is only the second year when there has been no need for even a birthday card for the “August Bunch” as we used to call them and I really miss that.