A big thank you to Open Age member Cornelia J. Glynn for sharing her wonderful piece of writing in which she recalls fond memories of her childhood play during summertime. Just what we need to warm us up on this chilly winter day!
It was a cold December day. The sky was grey and heavy with snow, with flakes waiting to fall and cover everything in a white shimmering blanket. Outside, people were tightening the collars of their coats and holding on to them with one hand, while keeping the other in their pocket as they were hastening along the street. Inside our apartment it was cosy and warm and the drops of condensation on the window panes were slowly tricking down the glass onto the glossy white wooden frames and then onto the wide polished marbled ledge.
My parents had gone to the shops, leaving the door wide open so that my Godmother, who lived opposite and whose door was also left wide open, could look in on my sister and me (she was five and I was 3). Alternatively, we were able to just wander in, usually carrying a selection of toys which we would scatter all over her floor where we would crouch and play for a while and listen to a never ending flow of fairy tales my Godmother would tell us. I adored my godmother. A woman, whom I sadly never got to know that well, her green eyes twinkled and she was kind and calm, and also frequently delighted us with chocolate flavoured boiled sweets. Where she managed to find them is still a mystery to me. It was in the early Fifties and living in Russian occupied East Germany luxury foods such as sweets were not commonly for sale in the shops.
Anyway, on that particular day unbeknown to her, we obviously got bored with our dolls and teddy bears and having a vivid imagination as children do, we designed a game of our own. We did that sometimes and would rummage in our parents’ wardrobes, trying on our mother’s clothes and shoes or our father’s jackets and ties. To complete our attire, we would apply some of my mother’s lipstick onto our cheeks and lips before we stuck an unlit cigarette in our mouths to look like “proper” adults. Then we would pose in front of the mirror and act as if we were grown-ups. However, that’s not what we did on that day, no. The game we played was quite different and when my parents returned home, they were surprised to find a group of spectators gathered outside the house we lived in, looking up at the building, some amused and smiling, others dismayed and disapprovingly.
My parents were curious as to what everyone was looking at and as they cast their eyes up, they stopped at our bay window in disbelief at what they saw: two little girls covered in brown shoe polish and wearing nothing but sun glasses, prancing about happily on the inside ledge, laughing and waving and blowing kisses at the people below. Suffice it to say, that the two little girls were my sister and me.
My parents quickly left the scene, rushed into the house and up the stairs. My father came in first, followed by my mother and godmother, whose cheeks were somewhat flushed presumably because my mother had had words with her for leaving us unsupervised for too long. Consequently she hadn’t had a clue what we had got up to. Still giggling as we were having so much fun on our make-belief beach with our pretend suntans and enjoying the public attention, we greeted them happily. They didn’t exactly share our sentiment. “What are you doing up on the window ledge and why are you naked? And why have you smeared shoe polish all over yourselves?” my father asked us with a stern look on his face and firmly ordered us to come down at once. My sister and I beamed at him and then at our mother and godmother, who both seemed to have been lost for words. “We were playing summer!” we answered in unison, before we climbed down onto the chair we had put in front of the window ledge. The three of them couldn’t but burst out laughing. Then my mother ushered us to the bathroom, trying to wash the shoe polish off our bodies. She didn’t quite manage it and the pale brown stains were a reminder of our “Playing Summer” game on a miserable winter’s day and amused us all for weeks to come.
© Cornelia J. Glynn