Today it is a particularly gray and dismal mid-winter day here in Minnesota. It’s a perfect day to remember the sandy, summer beaches of my teen years.
On hot, summer days, when we needed to cool off, my friends Patty, Vicky, Shannon and I would ride our bikes down Highland Parkway to Ford Parkway. Biking past Highland Shopping Center and Powers Department Store, we would cross the Mississippi River Bridge and emerge into Minneapolis. From there we would ride along Minnehaha Parkway finally arriving at Lake Hiawatha.
As a lake, Hiawatha was smaller than Lake Nokomis only a few blocks away. But because it was smaller fewer people went there and the beach was less crowded. By the time we arrived we were hot, sweating and tired from our bike ride. We would fling our bikes on the ground, run to the lake, stepping quickly across the hot sand and wade into the cold water – shorts, T-shirts and all. Instant relief!
Afterward as we lay on our beach towels, we listened to station KSTP on our transistor radios. Songs from The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Four Tops or The Temptations floated around us. We were shiny from Coppertone suntan oil and smelled like coconut lotion. Our sunglasses were full of oily fingerprints and our day-glo flipflops were full of sand. Our wet hair dripped in the breeze. True to our teenage years we would talk, talk, talk.
Finally as late afternoon arrived we would pack up our soggy towels and head home, stopping on our way at the nearby Dairy Queen for an ice cream sandwich. A perfect end to a perfect afternoon.