Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Book Series
Tune in to a special reading by the author Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Read along with these excerpts from “Wish you didn’t have to go. Summer, 2016.”
If you’re lucky, when you read this book, it’s summer, and
you’re listening to the score from Billy Wyler’s 1953 film
Our holidays may not have been as grand as Audrey
Hepburn’s, but the key points were the same.. to go far away,
to eat different foods, to accumulate a lifetime of picturesque
memories, to take goofy pictures of yourself and your
traveling companions, to wear clothes that would take abuse,
and most of all, to find love… perhaps even the love of your
Summer is not just a line on a calendar, it is a whole new way
of living. The goal is to jettison everything normal and prosaic.
You are a different person… a more adventurous person. A
person of boldness and audacity. You will talk to strangers
about intimate subjects, knowing you’ll never see them again.
You will shower outside under ice cold water, under a starry sky,
and not think it odd that you emerge smiling and singing some
You will visit campgrounds that are a gaggle of people from
everywhere, seeming to know everything about the nation and
You will meet the boy or girl who will excite your dreams for the
rest of your life, and will regret the fact you never said more
You will, for the first time in recent memory, play with your
siblings, for, after all, most of the time you forget you even have
Fathers will emerge more competent, mothers, less burdened.
She’ll smile the smile that snagged your dad. Even the family
pets can come, though they are safer staying at home, where
rattlesnakes will not bite, and giant fleas enjoy them. Yes, this
is summer, but only a part of summer, for summer gets better
and better, whenever you think about it.
And so I looked in the looking glass with the most intense
scrutiny. I thought of everywhere I’d been in summer season,
and everything that happened to me… how two bears entered
our campground in Yellowstone National Park and caused a
hell of a fracas. They might have been dangerous, but they
seemed uninterested in our utterly conventional camping
equipment and experience.
I remember the summer in South Dakota at my great uncle’s
huge ranch. I say “huge” not out of hubris, but because it
took a huge ranch to have even a meager living. I remember
my cousin Bernie… the handsomest boy in South Dakota he
was, decked out in silver and turquoise, a “howdy ma’am”
He got me on a mule one unbearable July in Blunt, South
Dakota. Damned critter took one look at me and fixed his
purpose, for he was mean spirited and onery, and defrocking
Eastern boys was his particular joy.
And so, in the desert of South Dakota, I found myself bucked
into the one remaining water hole, and, to the general hilarity of all,
emerged muddy, irritated, and vengeful. How that beast must
have laughed inside.
Because once you get started with these memories you have
to keep going with these memories, I have to tell you that my
severely irritated father picked me up by the scruff of my neck
and said, “Jeffrey Ladd, you are going to get back on that
mule and ride, because if you don’t get back on that mule now,
you never will!” Which did not seem so bad to me at all.
I remember that summer when I was fourteen or so, and filled
brown paper bags full of maple seeds that fell off the tree like
so many helicopters. Kevin and I packed up thousands of these
babies, and had a grand purpose in mind… to throw them over
the side of the Grand Canyon and watch them fall hundreds of
It was a great idea. We certainly had enough seeds in the back
of the car. However, when we looked for a vantage point to pour
our treasures over the side, we discovered the Grand Canyon is
not a sheer drop, but a series of inclines that trapped our seeds
and sapped the drama.
Thus, like Thomas Alva Edison, we scratched our heads and
worked for an alternative, and as we worked, our supply
diminished, ’til there was but a handful left, and, with
abandonment, we tossed them as far as we could. ‘Til this day
I swear that down, down, deep down in that profound decline,
there is a maple tree which proudly proclaims to the winds,
“This is the magnificent maple that Kevin and Jeffrey planted.”
It’s right there now if you look closely.
And what about that sylvan glade in Yosemite Park? One of my
Carter cousins discovered it… it was dappled with sunshine, a
real life swimmin’ hole, which, in a moment, had its full
compliment of cousins.
Then they did the thing that scandalized my Puritan soul to the
core. For in an instance, they were out of their tight-fitting bathing
suits, and flaunting their adolescent beauty which God Himself
had bestowed. It was a scene of Currier and Ives innocence and
eroticism, perfect and unique, for this never happened to me
The list of summer adventures goes on and on… the summer
we panned for gold in Colorado… the summer some drunken
Indians invaded our camp in New Mexico looking for booze,
and found nothing stronger than chocolate milk. The most
horrifying aspect of affairs was not what might have happened,
but that there was blood on at least one of the knives. What was
its story, I never knew.
There were of course excursions closer to home, including
the day my father taught me to fish. It was in the Potawatomi
River in Illinois. There my father, with limited patience, showed
me how to put a worm on a hook. I empathized with that worm,
and thought the 25 cents we had just spent for a canful might
better have gone to some creamsicles, for they were at the
top of my summer eating list, and worms were not.
Our family rule was that if you caught a fish, you had to gut
the fish to be able to eat the fish. That problem, too, was easily
solved… make sure you catch nothing. You are absolved from
responsibility, but not from scorn.
My plan was foiled by a gigantic catfish, a particularly
grotesque thing, that determined to give up the ghost, ridicule
of me being thereby assured. I’m glad the damned thing died,
and want you to know I never did my share of the scraping, nor
of the eating.
I remember too the summer in the day camp, when, during
archery practice, I had an epiphany, namely, that I hated
archery practice in general, and in every particular. Never
being a man merely to complain, I took decisive action by
escaping, only to discover I had to walk through four towns
on a hot asphalt road to get away. It was worth it.
There were aspects of summer that were, of course, not as
attractive. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t memorable. There
was the summer my grandfather got the only seated mower in
the town. He loved gadgets, and anything to improve the look
of his property was encouraged.
Then there were the love affairs, blossoming as easily as
dandelions. It didn’t seem to matter who was loved, just that
there was love. Notes were written, then sent by unusual ways
to the beloved who would be waiting breathlessly for your
effusion, their own to follow, as quickly as nimble fingers could
These notes, the entire experience, was redolent of Edgar
Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and the latest horror movie.
Threats were made… secrets breathed… relationships heated
up at the midnight hour, only to be cooled by morning. It was all
delicious, and I remember every adolescent stratagem, tactic,
trick, trap, and lie with enthusiasm.
I remember the summer I stayed with my grandparents in
Downers Grove. It was the summer after we moved to Los
Angeles, and I didn’t know anyone there, while I knew
everyone here. I conceived a way of beating the heat and
demonstrating my bold audacity. And so, I turned on the
sprinkler, and, when the clock struck twelve, doffed my
clothes and ran through the cool, clear water with abandon,
emerging breathless and excited at the end. Life was good,
and my life among the best.
That is why I wrote these two volumes, for this is a very special
offer of two books for the price of one. I wanted you to
remember, as I have remembered, the precise details of the
summers of your life. Don’t stint… summer was probably your
favorite time of the year, save for Christmas.
And therefore, if you close your eyes and stretch out, you’ll
be rewarded with one summer adventure after another. Make
sure you get your share.
For the music to accompany these two volumes, I have selected
the lush theme from Billy Wyler’s 1953 film “Roman Holiday”.
The music is exhilarating, joyful, innocent, and just plain fun, which
is just the way all summers should be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYAJT5OLx2Q
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