Summer was always a special time on Mazeau Street, especially for a six-year-old kid. The summer meant no school, playing all day, and going to bed later.
Summer to me was the best season, and the strongest of all the seasons, because it was daylight almost all day, so it had to be the strongest. I could start my day as early or as late as I wanted. No more being wakened by my mother saying, “Come on, get up! Let’s go!” over and over again until I dragged myself out of bed, and out of that perfect warm spot that just doesn’t want you to leave. If I didn’t get up, she wouldn’t stop, she’d get louder and louder. Then the covers would come off, which was the last thing to happen before my father would be dragged into it, and that was never good.
The summer meant those days were gone forever. It seemed like forever to me, and I think for my mom as well. Because she would sleep late, there was no way that me yelling, “Come on, get up! Let’s go!” was gonna work, so if I wanted breakfast, it would fall on my father’s watch. Since he worked nights at the post office, he arrived home just at the right time.
After having anything I wanted for breakfast – even leftover pizza – because dad was easy that way, I would go outside and feel the early morning sun. The choices were endless: ride my bike, catch grasshoppers or play in the garage where there was a sand pile as tall as I was, because my grandfather was a mason. He would let my friends come in and play, as long as we picked out all the toy soldiers that messed up his concrete.
Mazeau had lots of trees halfway down the block. That gave lots of shade, but it wasn’t as much fun to play there. The best playing area was from Grand Avenue to the driveway leading back to the biggest lot in the world. Well, that was what I thought, and that area was right smack in front of my house where everyone played. If there weren’t many kids out front, my mom would bring out her famous lemonade, and man, that was the best. The first sip would grab ya in the back of your throat, but after that it was lemon heaven.
The day went on and on ‘til dinner time when all went home, and Mazeau was quiet. But after dinner, slowly one at a time, we were back on Mazeau in force. The sun took its toll on us. Some took naps, but most of us toughed it out and returned to our posts. Some jumped rope, some chalked up the black pavement with scribble and hopscotch, while diehards were back in the lots playing baseball or catching grasshoppers. It seemed like the grasshoppers were unlimited.
Everything went on as usual until we heard the dinging of bells. This was a magical moment where heads rose while leaning toward the sound, and it seemed like for a split-second time stood still, and there was total silence, and as fast as that, everything went into a frenzy. We dropped everything we were doing and ran home yelling, “Ice cream! ice cream! the ice cream man is coming!” That white truck with a brown shingled roof turned down Mazeau and stopped right in front of my house. The ice cream man would ring the bells over and over ’til we lined up with money in hand, knowing exactly what we wanted. Some parents, too, but mostly us kids.
After all purchases were made, some sat on the curb, while others joined their families on their stoops, enjoying the treats that ended our day while cooling us off and giving Mazeau its long-deserved rest.
Paul DeFalco is a Maspeth native.