1955, the Longest Day of the Year

“What are those?”
“Mannequins, honey. Come on. We need to get you some summer pjs.”
“What kind?”
“Baby dolls. How about that? Would you like that?”
“What are they?”
“Like these.” She pointed to a child mannequin. “Like those.”
I liked them! They had little red roses, lots of lace and a ribbon at the neck.
“They’re pretty!”
“All right then. How about these?” She held up the same but with yellow roses.

It was a rare occurrence for us to be at a store. I don’t think they had much money — dad was working at Denver Research Institute and mom was a stay at home mom. Stores then were not open at night, either, but for some reason – a special longest day of the year sale? – this evening stores were open. While I can see the stores in my mind’s eye, I don’t know where they were exactly. There were no malls back then, but this was not “downtown” Englewood, Colorado, either. Unless it was and I was just too small to know, to have a context. That could be. This is one of my earliest memories.

“It’s the longest day of the year, kids,” said my dad from the front seat. “You know what that means? That means the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer. It’s closer to us today than any other time in the year.”
“Longest day of the year?”
“Yep. The sun won’t go down until after 8 o’clock tonight. You’ll be in bed before the sun goes down!”
My brother and I were at the 7 o’clock bedtime. I was three.

“Go wash your face and brush your teeth and I’ll bring you your new pajamas,” said my mom. I ran into the bathroom and did as I had been told. My mom showed up at the bathroom door when I still had foam in my mouth. “Here you go, baby. When you get them on, come out and show me how they fit.”

I liked them so much. I came out and showed my mom and dad my new PJs. My brother had new pajamas, too. “OK, kids, let me tuck you in.” My dad picked up my brother and took my hand. My brother was still in a crib. Dad pulled down the shades so it would at least be a little dark. “You’ll be sound asleep before the sun goes down,” he said.

It was the longest day of the year! I was too excited to go to sleep right way. I watched the daylight in the lines around the sides of the window shades. It went from the bright white of Colorado day, to the golden slant of sunset, to the soft blue of dusk before I finally closed my eyes.

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