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Queens Chronicle

Summertime, when the livin’ was easy

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Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2009 12:00 am

Is there any season more spectacular than summer?

The writer Ada Louise Huxtable once said: “Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.”

Whether you spend your time at the beach, on a family vacation, barbequing in the yard, or just sitting outside enjoying some watermelon, there is something about this time of year that creates lasting memories.

Here some Queens seniors at the Ridgewood Center for Older Adults and Astria Assisted Living in Kew Gardens share their favorite summertime moments:

Paula Glogau, 79, Briarwood

In 1992, my friend said, ‘Would you and your husband like to see a show because I’m going to get tickets?’ and we said ‘We’d love to.’ The name of the show was “Grand Hotel” with Cyd Charisse. They had cameramen and photographers and everyone all around and nosy me I went over to the cameraman. We went into the show and we loved it. The show was doing not so well and they wanted to keep it alive. They needed someone to do a commercial to keep it going and guess who they asked? I get a phone call the next day from the studio saying that I had been selected to be in the commercial for “Grand Hotel.” I was paid $1,000.

Mary Durniak, 80, Flushing

In the summer, I used to sit on my porch and embroider and there were a lot of birds to watch —robins, blue jays, and cardinals. I made pillow cases and aprons that I gave away. It was always pre-printed cross-stitch so I didn’t have to think. I could look around. I miss my garden because I had flower boxes and when my children were little, my husband and I planted some carrots and parsley because I found out that the butterflies like that. We got some butterflies and they laid their eggs inside that box that had screening all around. The caterpillars came out and they hatched. My children were watching the whole thing. They were very curious. I used my house as a classroom. My husband taught them the mechanical ends and I taught them the other things, so they’re all good cooks.

Georgia Jones, 83, Sunnyside

There was this big room and they used to call it the Irish Circle. It was on 103rd Street. They had musicians there every Saturday night from all over all Rockaway. We used to go there and dance. We used to rent a bungalow and we would play paddle ball and ride our bicycles. They were wonderful summers and wonderful memories.

Irene Zarkoff, 79, Glendale

I was a teacher and when school was out on June 30th, I would get on a plane and go to the Austrian Alps. After 10 months of teaching the local children in high school, it was just a marvelous experience to sit in the Austrian Alps, go swimming, and spend the entire summer relaxing. Some of the mountains were snow capped. The weather was gorgeous. There would be bands that would play by the waterfront, mostly American music, of course. I brushed up on my language because I was a German teacher. I used to buy Wiener Schnitzel, pommes frites and a salad for one dollar and I would eat it right by the lake.

Rosemary Blanche, 74, Maspeth

When I was young my brother and I used to go to Coney Island to Steeplechase Park, and they had horses and all different kinds of rides. It was always a lot of fun and then we would top it off with a trip to Nathan’s. I always took one of my girlfriends with me and my dad would say, ‘Get whatever you want,’ and we used to stuff ourselves with hot dogs. I used to love going on the Cyclone.

Rosie Frink, 77, Glendale

My husband and I used to go to Glen Falls House near Cairo, New York and we had oodles and oodles of fun. They would have music at night and our friends would come up and we would get together and we had a very good time. We would go in the pool. We used to play cards and all different kinds of games like bingo. I really enjoyed that. I used to look forward to it every summer.

Mathias Kleinhans, 73, Woodhaven

Last summer, my wife and I spent two weeks in Egypt and Israel. We liked seeing the Holy Land and all the places Jesus lived. We saw the Dead Sea, old churches, the pyramids — it was beautiful, but the weather was very hot and dry. The Dead Sea was 130 degrees. In Cairo, it was 110, 115 degrees. We drank a lot of water and we had an air conditioned bus. But you couldn’t drink regular water, only bottled water and you couldn’t eat fresh things, only cooked meals. We would like to go back to Israel to see the holy places again.

Cathy Branda, 60, Glendale

There was a place called Central House. It was in upstate New York somewhere, but I can’t remember where. It wasn’t like a big resort. It was family owned. We used to take the kids every summer. It was very old fashioned. They used to ring a bell in the morning for you to get up. Every night we would go square dancing and we had such a good time. They had sack races. There were no video games or television. It was just all kinds of good old fashioned fun.

Bill Marrone, 70, Glendale

I went to Ridgewood Pentecostal Church Christian Camp and my wife told me ‘you can’t bring cigarettes.’ These people would not allow you to smoke. I was listening to the sermon about giving your life to the Lord and since then I stopped smoking. I crushed my two packs of cigarettes and threw then in garbage. Even my attitude has changed. I don’t get into stupid conversations. My mind is focused on how I can please the Lord.

Claudette Chambers, 70, Ridgewood

I got married on June 3, 1951, that’s about my favorite and best summer memory. I was very excited to be marrying my husband. It started off a little chaotic. They brought the bridesmaids to my husband’s house and the groomsmen came to my house by accident. My maid of honor was late for taking the pictures. She was pregnant and her gown tore on the side. It rained and the flowers that they delivered to me, lilies of the valley, were brown. They weren’t fresh. But no matter what went wrong and a lot of things went wrong, it didn’t really faze me, because my focus was on marrying the man I loved.

Bess Fyman, 88, Astoria

It was during World War II. My husband was in the service and it wasn’t very long before war was declared and he discovered he wouldn’t be coming home so soon. I went down to San Antonio to be with him because he was in the Air Corps medics there. I was never very happy in hot weather. It was 1941 and they didn’t have air conditioning and it was hot. We stayed there for six and a half years — not very happy years. Most of the time there was high anxiety because we kept waiting to see if he was going to get shipped out. At one point we kept track of the weather and for over 30 days the temperature went over 100 degrees. It’s a beautiful town. It’s an Army town. There are a lot people there. They finally got air conditioning, but now I’m here.

Giza Shectman 63, Forest Hills

I spent one summer going cross country in a converted school bus that was turned into a camper, with my children and a friend. We went from New York to Vermont. Went across Canada — Montreal to Ontario. Went down to Washington, Oregon, California — the whole west coast and back to New York again. It took three months. It was just wonderful. The kids still remember it.

Victoria Reimer, 90, Richmond Hill

I lived on 111th Street in Richmond Hill and my neighbor was an aunt of the four Marx Brothers and they visited us quite a few summers. We got to play with one of their daughters named Maxine. I remember meeting Groucho and Chico. I was about eight years old at the time.

Welcome to the discussion.