Reminiscing on summer memories

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 17, 2015

Art is… by Bev Jackson-Cotter

Summer’s comin’, the tulips and dandelions are blooming, the grass is growing, the ducks are mating and artists are out finding summer subjects for display at the next Albert Lea Art Center show.

Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter

I’ve always thought that Albert Lea is a lovely city — the lakes, the historic downtown, the well cared for neighborhoods, the good Minnesota folk who live here and the especially lively summer months. The art center’s exhibition committee decided to take advantage of this wonderful subject.

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Do stop anytime and peruse On a Summer Day running from May 31 to July 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, at the Art Center. The open house will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 31.

Growing up in Albert Lea has given me a decided advantage over newcomers. I have such great memories.

When I was in junior high school, I worked at the A&W root beer stand on Highway 65 just south of the Seventh Street intersection. You could buy a root beer for 5 cents, and children 5 years old and under got one free. Granted, we were really lucky to get a nickel tip for our efforts, but we had a lot of fun. Mr. Schuller, the owner and manager, could really whistle, and a 5 cent frozen Snickers candy bar would liven our day.

Afternoons we walked to City Beach. When we weren’t in the water, we spent our time lying in the sun working on our tans. It never occurred to us that someday there would be a big concern about skin cancer. In fact, it never occurred to us to worry about someday.

Then there were the 35-cent timbers at the North Side Drug Store, seven scoops of ice cream (each a different flavor) covered with flavored syrups, nuts, whipping cream and a cherry on top. I remember the shocked look on our church’s youth director’s face when a bunch of us each put a nickel in the kitty and surprised him with a timber. The rest of us were satisfied with 15-cent sundaes.

Albert Lea’s baseball team was another great attraction. Covered with 6-12 mosquito repellent, we walked from one side of town to the other to watch the Packers play at Hayek Field. The pitcher Carmen Ferello was my favorite player and my hero. He was so handsome, and to a girl in junior high, that was really all that mattered.

One of my best friends had lots of slumber parties. She lived about a block from one of the city parks, and all of us girls (in our pajamas) would walk over to the park in the middle of the night. We’d sit on the teeter-totters and talk and talk and talk, about who knows what. While I would never recommend that for kids today, those nights bring back such great memories.

We rode our bikes on trips out of town, and found that the grassy area near the Jugland’s Dam was a fun picnic spot. Apparently the gravel road out there was not a problem, at least I don’t remember it making the trip difficult.

I loved sitting in our back yard under the walnut tree and reading. The public library offered a never-ending supply of books for teenagers, and the patient librarians were more than willing to trade one week’s stack of books for another.

It seems that summer activities were endless and freedom was the name of the game.

In the new Art Center display, it will be interesting to see how area artists choose to portray their summer days. I’m guessing that fishing, canoeing, soccer and sunsets over the lake will play an important part.

Do stop in, check out the new art show, and relive some of your own wonderful summertime memories.


Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center which offers classes, displays, community involvement for all ages.