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Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22-23, 2013: Crowd-sourced Summer

[For me, summer has always meant swimming: in the pool across from my childhood home, at the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, with my boys. So in honor of the summer solstice, this week’s series has focused on meaningful swims in American culture and history. This crowd-sourced post is drawn from the responses and memories of fellow AmericanStudiers—add yours, he warmly requested!]
AnnMarie Donahue follows up Monday’s post, writing, “When I think pools, film nerd that I am, my mind goes straight to Sunset Boulevard. I've always thought that was a brave, emotional, evocative, provocative and brilliant opening shot for a film. A corpse, floating above the audience, as we sit in the bottom of the pool. Enjoying a well framed shot, but also being told (in no small words) that we are just as trapped, just as drowned and just as doomed as our narrator. We are beneath the surface, something that few audiences get to enjoy, and in recent film-making technique (Wes Anderson especially, although I do love him) something we are banished from entirely. Although you should probably go with Caddyshack's pool scene!”
Paul Beaudoin follows up Tuesday’s post, writing, “You just brought back my memories of Weissmuller's Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale.”
Asia Leeds follows up Thursday’s post, sharing the history of a segregated public pool in Costa Rica. As she puts it, “Costa Rica is somewhat unique in its explicit discourses of whiteness and white purity. The public pool I write about only served people of ‘good morals’ and ‘persons belonging to the white race.’ Blacks who lived in area certainly protested.”
Rebecca Onion shares a complementary piece of hers about photos that reflect the histories of segregation in the National Parks.
Other summertime connections:
Donna Moody highlights “Cape Cod by William Martin. Not exactly Pulitzer writing but just packed full of home.”
Donna Campbell mentions “Edith Wharton’s Summer, but then again, I always lean toward EW.”
Heather Cox Richardson highlights “Almost anything by E.B. White, who loved summer himself and it shows,” to which I would add in particular the great essay “Once More to the Lake.” Heather adds that White’s essay “might fit well with Wyeth, Homer, or Hopper. Or Herreshoff (who influenced White's famous boatbuilder son).”
Steve Edwards highlights a couple great poems about swimming pools and all that they bring with them.
Monica Jackson writes, "I've read a lot of short stories that have themes of summer, but no novels come to mind. However, this topic reminds me of one of my favorite movies by Spike Lee. Crooklyn (which came out in the 90's) told the story of a young girl's life in Brooklyn during the summer. It showed the contrast of the inner-city with southern suburbia, so you end up getting two viewpoints of summer. In New York: there are fights with siblings over the remote, side walk spinklers, and ice-cream heists from the nearby bodega. In South Carolina/North Carolina/Georgia (somewhere in one of those states) there are barbecues and roller skating. The first vision of summer in New York makes me dream of a hometown I never had, while the second in the South makes me realize that like most things, summer is really all about memories made with family and friends."
Jeff Renye highlights a very different summertime connection, to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” As he writes, “’Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon’—that snippet of the old belief, upon which the now-divorced-from-rite is based, suggests that the communal event is tied to the summer growing months and occurs directly before the Solstice.”
Finally and more happily, Amara writes that for her, summer means “Childhood memories of Canobie Lake Park with my family. I don't even care for amusement parks but we had such fun.”
Special book release series starts Monday,
Ben
PS. What do you think? What AmericanStudies summer memories or connections you share?

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