Summer Series: Sounds Of The Season All Things Considered introduces summer sounds — short essays about things we hear that evoke the season. Today, it's Mister Softee ice cream truck, beer bottles, skateboards and thunder.
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Summer Series: Sounds Of The Season

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Summer Series: Sounds Of The Season

Summer Series: Sounds Of The Season

Summer Series: Sounds Of The Season

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All Things Considered introduces summer sounds — short essays about things we hear that evoke the season. Today, it's Mister Softee ice cream truck, beer bottles, skateboards and thunder.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Get ready - we're about to jump into a new ALL THINGS CONSIDERED summer series.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

U: (Singing) It's summertime.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLES)

BLOCK: Today we introduce "Summer Sounds," short essays about things we hear that evoke the season. And we begin with four people and four sounds. First, here's writer Susan Jane Gilman.

BLOCK: But wafting over this was always a sign of incongruous delicacy, an unearthly music box, an overlay of calliope poetry.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: The Mister Softee ice cream truck.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: The truck seemed to hail not from some garage out in Queens but from the very heartland of America; from a place of wholesomeness, of creamy happiness and comfort. And it always it came to us heralded by music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: A gang of girls once beat me up in the playground over a swing. But the moment Mister Softee was heard deedily deeing down the block, everyone stopped. And on those late summer nights when the truck continued on after dusk, playing its creaky, wind-up jingle over the dirty rooftops, I'd lie in bed as the sky turned burnt orange, and listen to it like a lullaby.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: This is Elizabeth Tannen. I'm an MFA student in the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

BLOCK: In New Mexico, we don't have thunderstorms. We have wind and sun, and lots and lots of dirt. But occasionally, crossing some bald, dusty surface in summer, I hear it - the distinct, sudden whack of a thunderstrike.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

BLOCK: I'm surrounded by dozens of my fellow pre-teen campers, all of us tottering between terror and thrill, our sunburned faces pressed to the glass windows, counting the Mississippis between clap of lightning and boom of thunder.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

BLOCK: We pretend we're eager for the storm to stop and get back to our bunks. But really, we fantasize about spending the night trapped in the cafeteria, lined up like breakfast sausages next to buckets of whole-grain cereal.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

BLOCK: Mr. MARK ACITO (Author) I'm Mark Acito, author of the novels "How I Paid for College" and "Attack of the Theater People." And I grew up breaking laws in Westfield, New Jersey.

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BEER BOTTLES CLINKING)

BLOCK: We wrapped the case of Heineken or Molson in a shirt we'd brought for just that purpose, but the shirt wouldn't muffle the tell-tale clink of the bottles as they knocked against each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEER BOTTLES CLINKING)

BLOCK: We may have been young, but we already knew that beer from a bottle tastes livelier than beer from a can. And with each step, the sweaty bottles sang to us a song that promised the sweet oblivion of cold beer on a hot summer night.

BLOCK: This is Veronique LaCapra. I'm the science reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. And for me, summer is the sound of a skateboard.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKATEBOARD)

BLOCK: The noise of those wheels grinding over the hot pavement reminds me of the skateboard I had when I was a kid. It was big and clunky, orange and ugly, and I pretty much thought it was the coolest thing ever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKATEBOARD)

BLOCK: This would have been in the late '70s, I guess, so no helmets or kneepads between me and all that blacktop. And I loved that feeling of flying around my neighborhood - hoping like hell not to fall - with that sound underneath my feet.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKATEBOARD)

BLOCK: The thing is, I told my mother all this the other day, and she says I never had a skateboard. My dad says he never got me one. And my friends from back then say they don't remember me having a skateboard, either. So I don't know - maybe some of the best summer memories are the ones that never really happened.

BLOCK: Stories of summer sounds from Veronique LaCapra, Mark Acito, Elizabeth Tannen and Susan Jane Gilman. If you want to tell us a story about a particular summer sound and what it means to you, please go to npr.org, click on Contact Us, and please put summer sounds in your subject line.

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