When my mother was growing up, she got to go to sleep away camp. It was on the Cape and she adored it. She would be on the Cape for the entire summer. Labels on her clothes, parental visiting days, campfire sing-a-longs, the whole nine yards. When she got older, she worked there as the head of the archery range since she had never learned to sail. When she was in college and dating my father, he would hitchhike to the Cape and work at the inn that was near the camp so that he could stay there for free and visit her. This camp has been around for ages and several generations of family attend. They send out newsletters and have reunions. It’s a very big deal.
Naturally, when I was young, I attended the same camp, right? Nope. I did not go to camp, really. I’d do a week or two here and there of different kinds of day camps- computer camp (thanks, Grandpa), cross-country camp (thanks, coach) and even space camp (thanks again, Grandpa!)- but I never really did any kind of long term sleep-away camp. Partly because it was too expensive, partly because I was a shy, sort of timid young girl who didn’t really want to be away from home. But mostly because I had Camp Grandma.
When I was in the 4th grade, my grandparents installed an in-ground pool in their backyard. It was awesome. It was like having my very own resort. Since my mother and I lived close by, I was able to swim every day. And, even better, I didn’t have to pass some sort of lifeguard’s test in order to do so (I had tried for years to pass the “deep end” test at a community pool we attended. I never succeeded and kind of want to go back today and try again. I won’t, as that would just be pathetic -because what if I couldn’t pass?!?!). I could just swim to my heart’s content.
An added benefit of the pool was that my extended family would plan summer visits. My two cousins who were within a year of my age would come and we would spend days out in the backyard, swimming, laughing and eating. inevitably, their visits would come to a close and we’d all be begging the various parents to spend, “just one more day” at Grandma’s. Eventually all sets of parents got smart and began sending all three of us to “Camp Grandma” for several weeks of the summer.
This was heavenly. The three of us would sleep in the same room. We’d get up in the morning and have breakfast (cheese toast), put on our swimsuits and swim in the pool. We’d play in the sun and when we got tired, we’d come into the house and watch tv. Grandma would make us sandwiches for lunch (peanut better and fluff, mmmmmm) and then we’d swim some more. Sometimes we’d go to the park a few doors down from Grandma’s house and play there. We’d all eat dinner together- often, my mother would join us since she was the parent who lived one town over (the other parents were entire states away!)- and then we’d go swimming again, in the moonlight. When we were tired, we’d go back inside, into our shared bedroom and giggle and laugh until we all fell asleep, only to wake up the next day and do it all over again. My grandfather was famous for staring at us across the dinning room table, as we were dissolving into gales of laughter, tears streaming from our eyes, unable to breathe and saying to my grandmother, “What’s the matter with these girls, Grandma?” Which would promptly send us off again into hysterical giggling. Even now, writing about it? I’m smiling.
It was perfection.
So, I’m not leaving you with a real recipe right now. There are many from that era since my grandmother made dinner every night. There will be some of those posted here in the somewhat near future. Tonight, I’m leaving you with some guidelines for the two foods already mentioned above. They will always be the food of summer for me.
1 slice bread (whole wheat, challah or pumpernickel were our favorites)
1-2 slices of cheese (mozzarella or munster)
Place cheese on bread and place on sheet pan for toaster oven or on cookie sheet, if using real oven
Toast in toaster over for one to two cycles or broil under broiler until cheese is melty. Let cool before you eat it- molten cheese does a number on the roof of your mouth!
2 slices bread (white, c’mon, nothing healthy here!)
Peanut Butter (smooth, of course. We’re not animals.)
Spread peanut butter and fluff on bread to taste. Cover with second slice of bread, smoosh together and eat. Savor the fact that you’re basically having candy for lunch/dinner/snack. Perhaps make another. Revel in the way it makes you feel like a young child.
Full disclosure? These photos are not mine- they are the result of a google search, since I haven’t made either of these two delicacies yet this summer. Having a baby will do that to you- I have far less time in the morning and when I do get the chance to eat, I’m all about shoving it in rather than photographing it. I do far better when photographing at night or when other people are around for baby wrangling. However, these photos really do look like what I make. So, thanks google!