Summer Of ’69

I was thinking about you again, about those times when we walked with our shoes off in the deep cool sand at night, where we would run in the dunes hiding behind the towering sea oats which kept us hidden from others walking on the opposite side in the light of the moon. A place where we seemed to be all alone yet in the middle of the universe, a place that was safe and secure, silent from the world yet screaming in passion.

Then there were the days, we were young living in the sun, gulls swooping atop the schools of menhaden that swam in huge dark patches against an aqua sea. Canvas blue and yellow striped floats, umbrellas, beach chairs and the aroma of sea ‘n ski suntan lotion.

The boardwalk where snow cones were a dime and I won that stuffed bear for you playing skee ball. Where we’d walk down the boulevard around Sloppy Joe’s bumping into a tourist, steeping in dropped cotton candy and where the scent of popcorn, corn dogs, pizza and stale beer rose from the street still hot from the sun beating down upon it for the past 12 hours.

Excitement filled the air as children were running down the sidewalk laughing, screams of joy could be heard coming from the amusement park and cars were lined up bumper to bumper, blowing their horns, burning tires and revving their engines in testosterone envy.

A time in our lives where the old world tasted sweet, the brush of your hand against mine thrilled my heart and we’d talk for hours as I walked you back to the place where you were staying with your family who expected you home by eleven or else. Truth is we never knew what or else meant and because you were only in my world for a few months, it didn’t even concern me.

Then as we sat around the pool where you stayed, your parents on the balcony above us with your younger brother, making sure their little girl was ok, we held hands, flirting and talking about what we wanted to do in life and how we were going to stay in touch once you returned home.

Then as the night was drawing to a close, you were in my arms asleep on the deck chair as your father came out to the railing above, called your name, and shouted, “it’s time”. We looked at each other, you sighed, and we kissed.

Yes, as I said before, you were in my thoughts today, so many, many years in the past now, when young love captured our hearts on that summer night, and left me with memories of how beautiful you were, how beautiful those moments were, in a world that was so different and so very, very long ago.

A place where had I thought you wouldn’t be with me forever, I don’t believe I could have understood. A place where our beginning became a life and where we as children discovered that one’s heart isn’t just a heart alone but a lifetime of moments like that moment so many years ago!

Johnny Johnston
An artist/writer as well as graduate of the University of South Carolina with degrees in journalism/20th Century American Literature, and retired senior executive of several international hotel/resort corporations, Johnny is the product of the south having been raised in the ever-changing transient lifestyle of a Carolina coastal resort. A point where he discovered, within his 300-year-old heritage and the world's dramatic social/cultural shifts during the late '60s to early 80’s an ambitious hunger and overwhelming curiosity to touch, see and become a participant in the virtually unlimited possibilities offered to those who wish for and seek life experiences. A journey which when hearing its details initially makes one a bit skeptical, questioning its validity as it is hard to imagine that incidents such as these may have crossed one man’s lifetime. This is the fodder required to step into zones exposing one's personal inner self, which many of his paintings and the words he writes do, openly. An ability to see and hear the tragic, beautiful, accomplished, exciting journey in a life free of inhibitions allowing others the opportunity to live vicariously and become, through his works, a part of its future. His larger works which have been featured in several Colorado and Fredericksburg Texas galleries and resorts have produced a number of collectors and fans. However, over the years, his paintings are mostly viewed by friends, enthusiastic new artist encountered on the streets or a small number of acquaintances he meets when dining in local cafés with his wife.
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Larry Tyler

I love the imagery in this I walked down that boardwalk and I could smell the salt air. Beautifully written thank you for such a great story.

Len Bernat

Johnny – I really enjoyed this – it stirred my own memories. Thanks for the journey.

Nancy Temple Floyd
Nancy Temple Floyd

Delightful, you bring images of the least complicated days of our lives. That was the last full summer of my father’s life. So safe and lighthearted…and the cool sand in the evening that, we forget it’s whiteness did not hold the warmth by night. Thank you, Johnny…you did it again!

Joel Elveson

Johnny, this is truly a magnificent story you wrote. So much imagery above and beyond what you show. In short I loved reading this story as I do all of your stories not to mention your poetry. Would you happen to know where the picture was taken?



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