Sometimes Rainy Days Were the Best Days In the Catskills

17 Sep

There is something special about a rainy day.

Perhaps it is my memories of summer time respites. On rainy days we were not expected to run around outside, we could stay in and read a book. I still love reading a book on a rainy day! It brings me such joy.

My friend and I were diehard Nancy Drew readers one summer. I remember wonderful rainy day afternoons lying on her bed near the window with our Nancy Drew books. We wanted to read every single one! I think we got close to accomplishing our goal.

Other days we worked on art projects. She wanted to be a dress designer and was always making paper doll dresses. Designing her own special dresses to fit the paper dolls we had. Hundreds of dresses were produced on the kitchen table during summer rains. And yes, she did study fashion design in college!

But for me the love was reading. I love murder mysteries and I am sure that this love started on those rainy summer days. I loved when our fathers came up on the weekends, especially if they brought along another yellowed-spine Nancy Drew book. However, I was not that picky, I read my brother’s Hardy Boy mystery books as well.

On those miserably cold rainy days that occurred in the 1960s in the Catskills, my grandfather would bake. That was a joy. The smell of fresh bread and cookies in the house was wonderful. He had an entire bakery shop set up in his basement, the remains of his bakery, which he had sold in the early 1960s. The giant mixer, the pans, the cooling shelves were all there. We would help him braid challah and shape cookies. Then we would run up and down the stairs with the pans for my Grandma and Mom to put into the oven. Sometimes we had three ovens going: in the house, in the bungalow and in the apartment where my friend stayed. It was a great rainy day event, especially since we knew we were going to have treats to eat!

My Mom did not always like rainy days, especially if there were clothes hanging on the line. We had no dryer then!   When the rain started we often ran as fast as we could to get the items off the line and hang them around the bungalow. This was especially important in summers when there was a lot of rain. We sometimes would run out of dry clothing.

One summer we actually did run out of clothes. I remember my Mom telling my brother to stay out of the lake! My brother was known for ‘falling’ in the lake. (Although one of my cousins admits helping my brother ‘fall in’ a few times.) Well you can imagine what happened. He was in the lake with his last dry pants. I do not really remember what happened. But I think he had to stay in the bungalow for a day or two in pajamas!

It was on rainy days that I learned to knit and crochet. I would sit with my Mom and Grandmas and all the other women knitting away in someone’s bungalow while having tea. While they knit sweaters, I and the other younger ‘girls’ had easier projects to work on. Those sweaters lasted forever. There are still some in the family.

Mahjong, gin rummy and canasta were important rainy day events for the Moms and Grandmas. While we played our board games, sitting on the floor; they played their games at the kitchen table. As soon as my sister and I were old enough, we were introduced to the importance of Mahjong.

It is true that on sunny days we were outside riding our bicycles, swimming, picking blueberries, running around, playing on the swings, and just having adventures. But sometimes a rainy day was really the best day in the Catskills. It gave us a chance to recharge and relax. Actually, I guess every day in the Catskills was truly the best day ever.

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