I lost it!

North Dakota winters are notoriously, often dangerously, cold. My father told me that during winter, he and his brothers would string rope between the house and the barn so that, during blizzards, they could safely make their way to and from the barn in order to care for the cows and horses that were an essential part of the family’s livelihood.

What is less known is that summer heat in the plains states can be as brutal as the region’s most extreme winter weather. Summer heat, and its effects, is the subject of my contribution for this month’s Storytelling Sunday.

It was the late 1950s. Our family was living in a rented house pending completion of our parents’ first purchased home. There were five of us at the time—Mom and Dad, my older brother, younger sister, and me. In those days you made friends with (and, more often than not, fought with) the next door and across-the-street neighbors because there weren’t any other options. We were a one-car family (Mom didn’t drive anyway), playgrounds were few and far away, and play dates and organized children’s activities were still decades in the future. So, we made do with what we had. Running through (heat-relieving) sprinklers, endless games of tag and hide-and-go-seek, and jump rope were our go-to activities.

The day I’m thinking of was late summer when I was five or six years old. The weather was hot, Hot, HOT, with little relief on offer except that we had been invited to a birthday party for  a neighborhood child. It turned out to be a non-traditional celebration—instead of the usual cake and ice cream, refreshments consisted of Oreo cookies and watermelon. I don’t know why, but, well…I lost it…

I will leave the rest of this to your imagination except to say that, to this day, I don’t eat watermelon and the only way I will consider an Oreo is if I can scrape off the super-sweet frosting between the two chocolate layers.

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Posted for Sian’s Storytelling Sunday, a first-Sunday-of-the-month meme. This year’s optional theme is Pick Your Precious. Feel free to join in with your own story—about a souvenir, a family heirloom, a memory, or something completely different.

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15 thoughts on “I lost it!

  1. Wanda, having known you for a few years, I would love to watch you lose it, I can’t remember a time you even got close. Yes you were 5 or 6 at the time you lost it, so maybe that is why I have never seen it. I remember those days well, especially the sprinkler. While I don’t believe that oreo’s and watermelon make a good combination, I know I could have grazed thru them, especially the watermelon. Take care, Bill

  2. It seems to me that you had a perfectly good reason to loose it – what child would prefer watermelon over ice-cream!

  3. A funny story well written x I totally felt your disappointment as I would have done faced with watermelon & Oreos!!

  4. Your story certainly reflects how strong an impression that day made on you. Personally, I could never give up watermelon, but I’d pass up an Oreo for a Hydrox every time. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh the disappointment you must have felt when they offered watermelon in place of ice cream! I’m wondering just how badly you ‘lost it’!

  6. Fascinating to read of how the weather shaped your childhood experiences and how life was for you then. I am trying to work out whether you ate loads and can’t face the two items now, or whether you threw a tantrum because the usual fare was not available! Whichever way, it is a great piece of story-telling :).

  7. Having grown up in Las Vegas without air conditioning, I can relate to that heat! But Oreos and watermelon? That does seem a strange substitute for cake and ice cream. It must have been really traumatic for it to have put you off them forever, and for you to remember the incident so vividly. It was probably the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” I would imagine.

  8. Isn’t that funny how a bad childhood eating experience can scar us for life? 🙂 I’m sorry you had to give up watermelon – for me, that brings back such great summertime memories. As always, your story had me smiling – you have a real talent for storytelling.

  9. I live on the east coast where we have cold and hot but not to the extremes you have. However, I can relate to the birthday party mentioned. My imagination is running away thinking of how your lost it…

  10. I can relate to those HOT HOT HOT days (but here in Texas instead) and can’t imagine not occassionally enjoying an iced-down watermelon under the blazing sun. Of course, all my memories revolve around good time! Great story!

  11. What a beautifully conjured up story – North Dakota makes me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder and this childhood tale is a worthy successor to any of her stories

  12. Weather extremes in the US fascinate me – we have similar conditions when it comes to summer heat but our winters are generally much milder and we only have snow in a small area of the country. I can certainly relate to running through sprinklers!

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