Sounds of Summer

This column by author and artist Gerry Niskern appeared in the Scottsdale Republic on Thursday.

From kids’ cries of joy to falling rain, summer sounds delight

Do the sounds of summer take you back to memories of childhood? Sometimes the charisma of summer is all in the sounds. Try to re­call the sound of the water drops hitting the dust as the field was watered before the first pitch of a Little League game. And after the first pitch came the crack of the bat. You can hear it now, can’t you?

After the game, nothing was better than hearing the ice tinkling in the ice-cold lemonade, unless it’s your first crunchy gulp after a hot game. Or how about the merry sound of the ice-cream man’s chimes and you knew soon that cool ice cream would be sliding down your parched throat.

When I was growing up near the state Capitol, there used to be a family on West Jefferson Street, around 11th Avenue, that sold the best watermelons in the whole Valley. They kept them cold in a large soda-pop cooler.

Mom’s thumbs beat deep thuds as she tapped the melons. Later, at home when she slid her big knife in the dark green skin, her choice melon split apart with a loud ripping sound. It was heav­en.

Inside the house, the whir of the evaporative cooler motor meant a wel­come breeze. Of course, if the cooler wasn’t doing too well, in high humidity, that meant we were in for one of our monsoon storms. The shattering snap of lightning and deep growl of thunder, even today, reminds me of the neigh­bors who slept in their backyards on hot nights. They had to run for cover many a summer night after hearing the drumbeat of rain come marching across the yards.

Sunday afternoon meant family picnic time at Riverside Park down on south Central Avenue. We headed for the sounds of water splashing and the shrieks of kids as they became airborne off the huge slide and landed with a scream in the pool.

After a cool swim, the sputtering and popping of roasting hot dogs mingled with the sounds of a snap and hiss as Dad opened bottles of Barq’s Root Beer, Orange or Strawberry pop.

The summer week was complete.

Gerry Niskern is the author of Don’t Throw the Bread, a memoir, available in the ScottsdaleTrails Amazon Store. She grew up in Phoenix and is a monthly contributor to the Arizona Republic. You can see Niskern’s watercolors at She can be reached at

You may also like

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *