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Jul 10

From: ‘Remembering summers past, a series’. This installment remembers that ‘Summer romances rarely survived until September”. A summer series first published in The Examiner, an easter Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper

“What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose,”
- Henry Ward Beecher

Summer romances, a cultural phenomenon, were big in the 50s and 60s.forget_just_summer_romance_snow_1035825

I doubt if teens today truly understand what our summer romances were like– the giddiness, the misery, the sweetness, the inevitable parting.

Teen sweethearts do not part these days at summer’s end anyway. They simply text each other into infinity and blog unceasingly on Facebook.

We had one option and one only–write letters or hope they came. Usually we never saw or talked to our summer loves again.

For me, summer love meant Frank, and yes Pete, too.

I met Frank one summer at swim camp, and the next summer I met Pete while working out-of-state at a summer resort.

Both relationships lasted only for the summers in question. Letters were the way we stayed in touch at summer’s end as few people in those days had the technology to make long-distance phone calls. Traveling was out of the picture as well.

Eventually and predictably in the fall, the letters slowed and the romances faded.

When love went bad, girls and guys alike cried in our cherry phosphates while losing ourselves in movie and song.

It was a bittersweet, delicious time of life.

Once years later, just out of curiosity, I tried to find each of these dreamy guys.

I learned that Frank pursued a calling as a chaplain and likely died in Vietnam. Pete pursued a career as a hippy and might still be in Haight-Ashbury somewhere.

So life works out.

Yet, I still remember the songs about the heartbreak of summer when romances were sure to be fleeting and nearly always heartbreaking.

Remember the song “Summer Nights” from the blockbuster movie “Grease”. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang “Summer Nights” about their rockin’ summer romance of 1959.

The lyrics of “See you in September” by The Happenings sounds like it was directed at lonely kids away from home for the summer, “I’ll be away each and every night/While I’m away don’t forget to write.”

While at summer camp, these teens often met their true love only to realize too late that their storybook romance would be fleeting. Or, they would worry if the boyfriend or girlfriend back home would wait for them and vice versa.

Gary Lewis and The Playboys sang, “Save your heart for me.”

Chad and Jeremy’s ballad “A Summer Song” admonished summer lovers to live in the moment because autumn would surely come.

The Beach Boys sang the upbeat “All Summer Long” while Brian Hyland crooned “Sealed with a Kiss” as he wrote letters to his sweetheart lest she forget him.

Do kids today have any idea what a summer romance was really like in the summers of our youth? Romantic. Unrequited. Unconsummated. I am guessing no.

At least we had the comfort of knowing that summer romance could live on in our hearts forever.

Summer Nights