The Present Moment Does Not Linger

Summertime, and the living is easy.

Unless you live and work at the beach. Then it’s a busy and sometimes stressful time. Work, sleep, eat, repeat.

If you’re a farmer, you might say, “Make hay while the sun shines.”

If you’re a baseball player, you might say, “It’s a long season, and you’ve got to trust it.”

I suppose we all might say, along with ‘Crash’ Davis, the perennial minor league slugger in “Bull Durham:”

“Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it  rains.”

Or, as the part-owner of a boardwalk 5-and-10-cent store told me more than 30 years ago: “You can make money in Ocean City, if you know what you’re doing.” Not that I paid much attention to making money, then or now.

These photos of a lifeguard stand on the beach catch the sunlight fading into dusk, along with the cloud shapes in the sky, which never remain the same for more than a minute. Let the record show that the photos were shot four days after the Solstice, in the Sixth Month of the Twelfth Year in the First Century of the Third Millennium, AD. Not that it matters.

In June of 2012, I began my 65th year, following many generations which eventually led to the Haydens and the Bouffards, and me. At 60, you can tell yourself you’re simply on the cusp of the 60s. Not much different than the 40s and 50s, right? It’s a long decade. But turning 64 has concentrated my attention. My age has lost all plausible deniability. I’ve entered the MID-SIXTIES! What to do?

This summer of 2012 is flying by, I have to tell you. 

My Grandmother Bouffard used to say:

“It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken.”

And:

“A change is as good as a rest.”

My Great-Grandmother Hayden used to say:

“Some day people will be on the television without any clothes.”

How could she possibly have known that, as an elderly woman in the 1950s?

More to the point, Great-Grandmother Hayden, matriarch of a rapidly expanding clan, gave us these words:

“No matter how long you live, it goes by fast.”

These wise old women deserve to have their words written down somewhere, don’t you think?

Then there was my Great-Uncle Edward Hayden. He was a bachelor, and my godfather. He was in his late 80s and I somewhere in my 40s, the last time I saw him at the annual family crab feast in Bay Ridge. He confided:

“I hope you don’t live as long as I did.”

About the saddest words I’ve ever heard. So far, at least.

Family lore

I can report that Uncle Eddie didn’t linger or suffer at the end of his long life. One day he drove his sister to the grocery store, and drove back home. It was a big house, the home he was able to build for his parents because he made good money as an undertaker. (The building lot, by the way, was purchased by my grandfather and grandmother, Bernard and Anna Marie Hayden. They planned to build their own house on the lot. But Grandmother Hayden died in the hospital in 1920, a few days after giving birth to my father. Sometime after his wife passed, my grandfather deeded the lot to my great-grandparents, who took care of my father.)  Not to put too fine a point on the obvious, life doesn’t go according to plan.

On the last day of his long life, Uncle Eddie drove his car home, walked up the steps into his house, set the bag of groceries on the table, and collapsed. I’m pretty sure he was in heaven before he hit the floor.

The antique ice cream truck pictured above is identical to the one that drove up Faroe Place every summer of my childhood. The same ice cream man drove the truck every summer. I wonder what he did in the winter?

The ice cream man wore a chrome change machine on his belt. One cylinder each for quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Everything he sold cost 5 cents or 10 cents. Paper dollars were unlikely. Did any child ever pay for a Popcycle with a $5 bill?

The supervising attendant at the Esso station wore the same kind of change machine. Coins must have been quite valuable. It’s been years — decades — since I saw a Good Humor truck or a change machine used in a business transaction. And years since I saw a gas station attendant or elevator operator. Everything changes. Not much stays the same, except the passing of the seasons.

This summer of 2012 is one more in a long line of summers. Maybe it’s hotter than most of the summers before.

Summer is flying, I tell you. Life goes by fast. Eat the ice cream before it melts.

— John Hayden

(For more pictures of summertime, and other seasons, you might check out my other blog.)

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4 thoughts on “The Present Moment Does Not Linger

  1. Yes, multitudes were gainfully employed in the primitive gas stations of yesteryear, pumping gas and patching leaky inner tubes. Cars needed an oil change every 30 days, and a lube job almost as often. Probably time to adjust the brakes, too. They had to add water to the batteries!

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  2. You can’t pump your own gas still in New Jersey where my sister, Peggy, lives. And the other day I saw a Skybar and Necco wafers in the store. That took me back to the old days. Can you still buy those “caps” we used to bang with a rock in the driveway (the kind that were really for use with a cap gun)?

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