Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

August 1, 2013

ED VASICEK: Kids and summer joy

Include the joy of family in vacation plans

As I was perus-ing the Koko-mo Tribune, I noticed an article about the Indiana State Fair conflicting with the start of the ever-encroaching school year.

Educators have noticed that the longer summer vacations equate to less retention of what had been learned previously. Thus they have sought to displace some of the lazy, hazy days of summer with school breaks spread throughout the year.

Whatever the season, life is richer for kids when they enjoy a variety of activities — particularly if they are blessed with a positive family environment. Let me share some of my summer experiences growing up in Cicero, Ill., as a case in point.

Some summer events were staples. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood, played softball in the alleys, participated in park district activities and enjoyed summer festivals. The local Italian Club held a street festival, complete with a version of bingo called “tombola.”

The club sold tombola cards for $1 each, and whoever filled the entire card won the prize (it was several hundred dollars). The loudspeaker would broadcast the numbers for at least a couple of blocks in all directions, and winners (assisted by their families) would whoop and holler from their porches.

A live band played as folks danced on the streets. Italian beef, Italian sausage, meatball sandwiches and pizza were omnipresent.

The Slovaks had fun, too. Our family would make a trip with Grampa every year to East Troy, Wis. My grandfather was a member of the board of trustees for Sokol Camp, a Slovak gymnastic associations. Although we had no interest in gymnastics, we would make the annual trip so my grandfather could attend the annual board meeting. We would enjoy the lake and grounds and join the campers for their noon meal.

We trekked to the forest preserve twice a year for picnics. One was sponsored by the Majewski Boosters’ picnic. This was a strange club indeed. Apparently Majewski had been a politician decades earlier and organized a “booster” club. The reason for the club had long been forgotten: Its only activity was an annual party/picnic.

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