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Frank Gray

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Another summer gone; start dreaming of the next one

When I was a kid, whenever I’d go somewhere with my dad he’d turn the radio to a station where the announcer would introduce tunes in a deep, absurdly slow voice.

That station played old-time music, big band stuff. My dad liked it and I hated it, but he never turned it up very loud so if you saw anyone you knew they wouldn’t know that Guy Lombardo was playing inside the car.

Occasionally I’d get to put the radio on a rock station. Sometimes he’d laugh at how stupid some of the songs were, songs like “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy,” which even I had to admit was a pretty stupid song.

Back then, when summer came, songs by the Beach Boys became seasonal anthems, so even if you weren’t driving you could try to feel cool by cranking up those songs a little bit.

Eventually the station that played the big bands gave up on that format and my dad spent the last decades of his life watching C-SPAN with the volume cranked up higher than I’d ever played his radio.

But those old Beach Boys songs lingered on the radio, and they always sort of stood to me as symbols of the start of summer.

But you know what? They don’t play the Beach Boys on the radio any more, at least not on any of the stations I’ve been listening to. They’re from the ’60s and that’s nearly 50 years ago. They seem to have gone the way of Guy Lombardo, on the radio anyway.

So in a way the only way you know that summer has arrived is that it gets hot and you have to flip the page on the calendar to June and people start setting off fireworks a month before the Fourth of July.

As summers go, though, this wasn’t a good one. It was too hot, too many days above 100 degrees.

There were too many bad storms – only two but that’s two too many – and spending nearly a week in sweltering temperatures with the power out left me almost longing for the fall.

Well, yesterday was Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, and I suddenly realized I had not missed but frittered away another summer.

Oh, summer wasn’t completely wasted. I actually went fishing twice and caught a total of three fish. One was a catfish and the other two were mystery fish. I’m not very good at fishing and a catfish is the only type of fish I can positively identify.

I discovered only after landing them that it helps to have a pair of cotton gloves so when you go to remove the hook and throw them back the fins don’t cut you and your hands don’t stink like fish for a day and a half.

Now that the season is gone, perhaps the wisest thing to do would be to start planning for next summer. I’m not going to make one of those silly lists vowing to have a picnic and make s’mores over a campfire and that.

It will be more basic.

First, buy a pair of cotton gloves.

And second, grow up and cut the Beach Boys loose.

I’m ready for next summer already.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him at (@FrankGrayJG).