Schools closed. Water pipes burst. Historically low temperatures were recorded. Here in Pittsburgh, the temperature dropped to a record low of minus 9 degrees! Have you seen the panorama of the frozen city?
Frozen Allegheny River on January 7th. Source: Justin Merriman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
For those of us who aren’t fond of winter storms and cold snaps, there is some hope! With the winter solstice behind us, there is a bit more sunlight each day. And the first day of spring will be here soon too.
Before I got a drivers license, I spent my summers cruising around town on a bike. It was a gray 10-speed splattered with pink and turquoise paint and I thought it was the coolest. I loved to speed down the hill next to my house, feet off the pedals, until the day I wiped out on a patch of cinders. The cinders were dropped by snowplows during winter storms and the street cleaner never seemed able to sweep them all away. After that, I always kept my feet on the pedals and looked for cinders. I pedaled to the town pool, the local library, and my friends’ houses. My friends and I built bonfires in their fields, crafted massive s’mores and ate logs of cookie dough, and stayed up until the stars began to fade. We’d wake up in dew-covered tents with the smoky scent of campfire still clinging to our hair.
When I moved to Pittsburgh s’mores and bike rides became a thing of the past, as I was nervous about riding on the city’s busy, pockmarked streets and starting a campfire seemed like an easy way to burn down the entire neighborhood.
It’s August in Pittsburgh. It’s hot and its hazy and that can only mean one thing! ITS KENNYWOOD SEASON.
When I was a kid in Michigan we didn’t have anything so cool as an amusement park right in our own town. And Kennywood isn’t just awesome for the Black Widow, Thunderbolt or Potato Patch Fries, its also cool for its amazing history.
Before 1898 the spot where Kennywood now stands was a sleepy wooded area on Anthony Kenny’s farm. Even before that, the area was the site of an important battle of the French and Indian War. Around 1898 the Monongahela Street Railways Company owned by CMU donor, banker and Great Depression lightning rod Andrew Mellon took the area from a quiet grove to an amusement attraction with a casino, carousel and dance pavillion. Mellon figured if he made a fun destination folks would flock to it, oh and they’d use his streetcar to get there. Since then fun has been the name of the game at Kennywood.
For over a hundred years Kennywood has showing Pittsburgher’s a good time. Just about everyone has a made a great memory there, whether you had a secret kiss on the Old Mill, won a great prize, or took a school trip with all your friends. Kennywood’s so famous its one of only two amusement parts that have historical landmark status.
If you can’t make it to Kennywood this weekend the library has tons of stuff to get you in the mood to make a trip soon!
August is just around the corner, and I love August! It’s often a bittersweet month—it’s still the middle of summer, fresh produce is exploding, there’s still time for swimming, bug bites, and fun in the sun. But it’s often the month before or when school starts, the days are getting shorter, and some day soon, fall will feel just around the corner.
picture is my own
Enough of that sentimentality. It’s still only the end of July and we all have more than enough time for another great summer adventure. I recently completed the bike trip from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trail. Let me just say, it was an incredible trip. If this is your speed, I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a different sort of adventure, check out one of these books! All about adventure of one kind or another—from world traveling, to road tripping, to learning about yourself.
There is no debating about which song ruled the airwaves of summer 2012. I think we’re all still trying to recover from that one. But have we collectively decided what this summer’s omnipresent jam is yet? I have a solid guess myself, but it seems like the summer has just gotten underway and the title is still anyone’s for the taking.
Thinking about what the unofficial song of the summer of 2013 will be has got me waxing nostalgic. I started reminiscing about the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and the band, hit song, and album that completely took over my life. On the night of the last day of school, my friends and I went to an to see a fairly well known band from England. But it was that night’s opening band playing to a near empty room that stole my heart. I just had to meet them. My friends and I wormed our way backstage and buddied up to our new favorite band. We even ended up in their van at the end of the night driving to their hotel room to hang out until dawn. I recognize that this sounds very, very stupid and WAY worse than it actually was. But honestly, it was all very innocent. We spent the rest of the summer and fall writing letters back and forth with band members (this was before the internet and email was totally ubiquitous) and sneaking into clubs meeting up with them whenever they came touring our way, which was actually fairly often. But soon, the band got big- like REALLY BIG – and our little friendship couldn’t survive their new-found, massive fame. Even though I quickly outgrew their music, when I hear those first singles from their first album it takes me right back to a time I remember fondly. I really felt like I was on the verge of adulthood and my life was shaping up to be very exciting. I will never tell you which band it was because it really is just way too embarrassing to share, but you guys are all welcome to speculate!
I asked my fellow Teen Specialists to share their favorite (or most memorable) summer jams and below are the results:
Annica from West End: Listen to this song and you’ll know how my 16th summer went. Memories come flooding back and give me chills every time I hear it.
Micheal from Hazelwood: In the summer of ’99 there was one song that was impossible to escape! I give you, Len’s one hit wonder “Steal My Sunshine”!
Lauren from Woods Run: It was the summer of 1996 and I was working at Kennywood Park. My food stand was close to the Musik Express and “1979” was in such heavy rotation that I swear it played every 15 minutes. Just like the staff in “Adventureland”, we got very sick of that song by the end of the summer! When I hear it now, I think back to all the fun I had working at an amusement park.
Molly from The Labs: When of Montreal’s The Sunlandic Twins came out in the spring of my junior year, it changed my (music) life. Although I still listen to the album year-round, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)” has always felt particularly summery to me, with its heartbeat-like intro (reminding me what it’s like to be able to run outside again), whimsical lyrics about escaping through imagination, and a fast, danceable tempo. It’s definitely on my list of songs to put on while driving in the sunshine with the windows down.
Tessa from East Liberty: “It Must Be Summer” by Fountains of Wayne is perfect for driving to the mall with your windows open, or driving to Sheetz so you can buy food and hang out in the parking lot of the Sheraton (these were summer activities in my hometown). Fountains of Wayne are the masters of the happy but yearning pop song.
Another from Tessa from East Liberty: And if you’re just sitting on your porch wishing you had air conditioning I recommend “How Many Cans” by Soul Coughing- it has a slow, fat bass line that is probably just the right groove for the sweat you hate to feel dripping down your back.
So, what do yinz think will be the song of summer 2013?
Want to play this summer’s hit songs on the ukulele? Join us on Tuesday, July 23 from 2 pm to 3:30 pm in the CLP – Main Teen Meeting Room for Ukulele Mayhem. We’ll be learn a few simple chords and pop songs and record our epic, ukulele jam session for all of posterity! Bring your own ukulele or play one of ours. All skill levels are welcome. Participation in this program is limited to teens.
Even though the minutes of summer are ticking away, there are still a million things to enjoy before heading back to school. And if you count the summer solstice as the start of summer – we have really just gotten started!
Summer makes a perfect backdrop for all kinds of stories. The months from June to September seem to stretch out in an arc of possibilities, waiting to be filled with epic adventures, romances, and mysteries, while long days and warm nights conjure memories of summers past. Maybe this sense of promise and nostalgia explains the summertime settings for so many coming-of-age stories – the tales that chronicle a character’s shift from innocence to experience, marking the end of childhood and the beginning of something new. In honor of the longest day of the year, check out some classic movies featuring summer-themed stories of friendships, crushes, quests, and plenty of teenage angst.
“Everybody gets one chance to do something great. Most people never take the chance, either because they’re too scared, or they don’t recognize it when it spits on their shoes.”
– The Sandlot (1993)
The Sandlot is the story of a group of kids who spend the sweltering summer of 1962 playing ball in a dusty field, hunting down lost (& possibly priceless) baseballs, getting life advice from the ghost of Babe Ruth, and avoiding run-ins with the dreaded man-eating monster dog chained up in the yard next door. The Sandlot was an instant classic when it premiered 20 years ago– perfect inspiration for neighborhood adventures with friends.
“I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959– a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years.”
– Stand By Me (1986)
Based on a novella by Stephen King, Stand By Me follows a group of friends as they set out to become heroes by finding the body of a local boy who has gone missing. They pack their bags, fill their canteens, and embark on their journey through the woods outside of town, dodging trains and wading through leech-infested creeks along the way. In addition to its compelling storyline, Stand By Me also features an all-star 80’s cast and an awesome oldies soundtrack– a must-see summer flick.
“Things will happen in your life that you can’t stop. But that’s no reason to shut out the world. There’s a purpose for the good and the bad.”
– Now and Then (1995)
Now and Then is another nostalgia-driven story about four friends who spend the summer of 1970 saving money for a tree house, navigating love-hate relationships with the neighborhood boys, and solving the mystery of a local murder that happened before any of them were born. A 90’s classic that will make you want to ride your bike and research cold cases by combing through old newspapers in the basement of your local public library.
Check out more summer-themed cinema available at CLP: