Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I believe that Fall has finally arrived; Summer has run away with a little freckled-faced boy, fishing poles bobbing over their shoulders, kicking up dusty red clouds as they head for the pond down by the library. It has been a long Summer; she smiled a sunny 90 degrees two days just last week, but today there was a brisk chill in the air and more than a breeze, almost a wind rustled the tree branches. The weather man says it will be a warm winter, but my friend Mrs. Beth West believes the Farmer’s Almanac which calls for a colder winter. Now, I tend to lean toward the truth of those wise farmers who get together every year to read the signs and determine what is best for next year’s planting and harvesting. Signs like bug droppings, leaf curls, water tables, and when butterflies and birds migrate, stuff that most of us do not spend any time worrying about. We have experts to do that. I love the Almanac.
My mother always gave Dad the venerable little orangey-yellow book for Christmas, not that he was going to plant potatoes or cotton, but Dad enjoyed reading The World Book Encyclopedia in his leisure time, so the Almanac was light reading for him. That and the newspaper are all I ever knew him to read.
I, too, grew up loving to stretch out on the floor after dinner and select a favorite volume, flip through the thin pages looking for color photos of Costumes or Clothes or History of Clothing, anything that fueled my desire to become a Designer. Oh yes, I dreamed of a career in fashion design long before it was even recognized as a “Career.” I used to draw a rather stylized version of a High Fashion Model, give her exaggerated bosoms and hips along with a wasp waist, long slender legs in high heels. Each had the same face, same hairstyle, same silhouette.
When I was describing this drawing from 1953 to my friend Sheridan the other day, (we were discussing the new PBS show “The Collection”), I realized that I had created the Barbie Doll!! Yep. I am the original designer of the wildly popular, generation-spanning, plastic icon which would spawn thousands of original costumes and accessories. You know, I may have saved some of those early drawings, if so, and I can find them, maybe I’m in for a Big Ole Cash Reward.
Well, my design career was short lived and gave way to my deep desire to become a brain surgeon. At 13, I read a book called “Not as a Stranger,” and I became enamored with the main character, a handsome rogue doctor and was much impressed with his female surgeon love interest. Long story short, I changed my mind about a career in medicine; I became a wife, mother and teacher, all of these roles I have loved. And all those years of studying the history of dress, of drawing and coloring clothing and models, plus reading everything I could learn about medicine, was excellent training for teaching my two daughters to color inside the lines and just how much iodine or mercurochrome was needed for a bad scrape on the knee or how to deal with putting a bandage on a stumped toe. (Ever try to bandage a toe?)
Speaking of “stumped toes,” I hardly ever see kids with skinned knees, elbows, chins, noses, thumbs smashed by hammer blows, or big purple toes which would suggest that they had been outside playing sidewalk games, riding bikes, jumping rope, building forts or tree houses, etc., etc., etc. Most of you are of an age to remember those summertime dangers which presented themselves almost every single day, and you surely remember the sting of iodine and band aids that did not have happy faces on them. Nothing happy about a band aid!
My point here is to question whether or not children have magically stopped getting injuries or have they just stopped playing outside? I have done my own surveys over the last 10 years or so, driving the hundreds of back residential cart paths in Peachtree City where anyone has a perfect view of hundreds of backyards. I’ve seen some of the most amazing “swing sets,” whole wooden playgrounds erected for just one family, thousands of dollars of wood and metal, and astonishingly, NO ONE IS PLAYING ON THEM?
I now live in a neighborhood in Senoia with sidewalks and quiet streets, big green yards and a few play sets in backyards, a tire swing or two. The only kids I ever see outside are little ones riding bikes with training wheels and helmets and with parents either walking or riding alongside the kiddies. Nothing wrong with that. Safety first. But where are the kids that used to run happily through our neighborhoods, who stomped through our flowerbeds without compunction, who did wheelies with their bikes, leaving skid marks on our driveways? Gone. And what happened to rollerblades, skateboards and Big Wheels? All provided multiple occasions for Band Aids.
I guess the change in season from Summer to Fall doesn’t make as much difference as it did when we were kids. No child ever welcomed Fall. It meant the end of all those wonderful, lazy, hot and humid days of summer. It meant School! No more running through the sprinkler, drinking icy KoolAid, eating banana popsicles, or lying quietly on a quilt under a big shade tree telling silly stories. Giggling sleepily, groggy from the sun.
Ah, Summer.