I guess with this blasted heat, I’m feeling a little nostalgia, trying to remember if it ever was this hot.  We didn’t have a/c in my house, my parents home, till 2007.  How did we survive the summers growing up?  We have horrendous humidity in southwestern PA and I just remember the 1977 flood.  That July seemed to really bother us, well those months after the flood and have to deal with the muck and the stench, the humidity.  I laugh now but we left to check out colleges, universities in the south for my brother and got flooded out of a hotel room outside Orlando.  At least we had a good laugh. You can’t do too much here in the middle of no where.  I’m not into baking from the outside in and inside out.  So, its inside with the fan on my legs and the a/c cranking away.  What did we ever do without a/c?  Today, I’m recalling stories my parents told me about their childhood.  They don’t remember the heat being this bad either.  Perhaps our minds were diverted to other more important past times.

Gene Kelly in his studio in Johnstown, PA (5)
Gene Kelly in his studio in Johnstown, PA
Mom doing her Dorothy imitation
Mom in her pig tails

My mother’s summer was filled with dancing and other pursuits. She learned to dance at the Gene Kelly dance studio in Johnstown. I asked her one day about one of her favorite stories from that time. We were trying to keep each other awake on a long drive back from NYC. I had been in the “Big Apple” for a job interview and she had tagged along to keep me company and help me navigate. She had a ball, getting up early and heading out to the Today Show, wanting to meet Anne Curry (which she did).

Mom in her dance costume (3)
Mom in her dance costume

Mom was a pretty good dancer and would travel to Pittsburgh for recitals. There was no “dance moms” in those days. My grandfather or grandmother would pack her a little suitcase, take her down to the train station and put her on the train. The cool thing though about this is that Mom got to stay in the Kelly household during those times. Now Mrs Kelly, God love her, was as I understand from Mom a “good Irish Catholic”. She looked out for Mom’s spiritual needs. The crux of the matter is that Mom was raised in a Presbyterian household. That didn’t stop Mrs. Kelly. Before my mother would arrive, she would march on down to the Presbyterian Church, confer with the Pastor and gain the Sunday School lessons and sermon. Come Sunday, Mom would head off to church and return for lunch before Mrs. Kelly would take her back to the train station and put her on the train home to Johnstown. Now, during lunch, Mom would be grilled with questions concerning the Sunday lesson and sermon. If she failed the test, Grandma and Pap, her mother and father, would get a phone call. Mom never wanted her parents to get the dreaded phone call. Good on you Mrs. Kelly!

Dad, Uncle John, Uncle Al
Dad and his brothers

Now Dad was an exceptional athlete his whole life. He lettered in three sports, baseball, basketball and football. But I think he was definitely a rebel, creating havoc around the neighborhood. I love his story about blowing up coffee cans, swimming in the creek in an old wash tub (which he almost drowned if not for his big brother John that saved him), and playing marbles with the other local boys. Dad had a mean shooter and was considered the champion of the his time. I can just see him down on the pavement, one eye shut, the other narrowed, taking a line of sight. He was a good sport though and would make sure that the others had marbles to play with. I think the only person to beat him was a girl but I have to confirm that.

Dad and Aunt Alma (?)
Dad in his Letterman’s sweater

The other summer past times that occupied my father’s time was those sports. Football and baseball were his passions. He was good enough to play in the AAABA tourney in Johnstown and was even scouted by the Red Sox. But he was drafted into the Army and sent to Japan during the Korean War. He played baseball over in Japan and fondly tells me about being thrown out of a game by the umpire because he vehemently argued a call. My Dad is a very quiet person and I have never really seen him mad or at least I can’t remember a time when he was mad. I retract that. I remember the summer my brother was denied to play in the same AAABA tourney by the coaches because they chose their son over my brother.  My brother was clearly, statistically the better player than this other kid. Dad called the coach on playing favoritism and I remember the late night phone calls.  Not once did my Dad raise his voice against the coach but presented a logical argument against his choice. My Dad has always been about fair play and that is why I respect him.

Stokowski (1992, Social Networks and Tourist Behavior) illiterates that “relationships are connections” and that these relationships could be identified by their enduring capacity. We all have connections to people and to landscapes. Tourism allows us to experience a wide variety of relationships and make new connections. Social networking allows us to bring to life stories that would otherwise be lost with time, loss of generations and their abundance of connections. I though would disagree that relationships can be predictive, especially in the changing times we live in now. Lifestyle is radically different. Perhaps it is not about predictability but about the action, what evolves from the interaction. Those moments of truths that will leave a lasting memory. We definitely live in a dynamic, complex social world made closer by technology. But more so now, than perhaps in the past is the ability to convey a story and make innate linkages as well external connections. Those six degrees of separation are closer than we think.

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