The Last Word

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Events - With Melinda Gas­s­away

Sud­denly it’s sum­mer and rec­ol­lec­tions of those sea­sons past come rush­ing back — re­minders of how so many of us cre­ated our own fun and en­ter­tain­ment long be­fore Hot Springs of­fered such a full menu of things to see and do.

“School’s out — give a shout,” could have been the mantra in those less hec­tic days when time was ours to spend as we wished and the best ad­ven­tures were not planned down to the last de­tail and months in ad­vance.

For in­stance, our sports ac­tiv­i­ties were not al­ways so or­ga­nized. A tele­phone chat or a chance meet­ing with high school class­mates could quickly turn into an af­ter­noon ten­nis game on the courts near the old Boys Club. Heat and hu­mid­ity never de­terred us from giv­ing our all in a com­pet­i­tive match. And when the op­por­tu­nity arose, we gath­ered for an im­promptu soft­ball game in the lower yard of Carol Wright’s home on Cir­cle Drive. I was never a great bat­ter — de­spite fa­ther-daugh­ter prac­tice ses­sions at my Prospect Av­enue res­i­dence — but just “get­ting in the game” and hav­ing fun were what mat­tered most.

Af­ter my best gal pal, Mol­lie Mul­doon, nee Lol­lis, and her par­ents, moved to their Pecan Street home, we found it very easy to while away the hours with­out in­con­ve­nienc­ing our par­ents or be­com­ing bored with hav­ing noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar to oc­cupy our ac­tive minds. On oc­ca­sion, Mol­lie and I would take a leisurely walk down to Hob­son Av­enue to a shop that sold old juke­box records for bar­gain prices. She and I would go through the lat­est se­lec­tions and then “ooh and aah” when we lucked on a real keeper that fea­tured a par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar song and artist.

When need be, I found ways to amuse my­self by read­ing books or my mother’s mag­a­zines within the com­fort­able con­fines of our screened-in front porch. And then there was al­ways the at­tic with its trea­sure trove of old photo al­bums and keep­sakes that prompted me to ask a myr­iad of ques­tions such as “Who was this?” “When did this hap­pen?” “Is that your first love?” Per­haps those sim­plis­tic but di­rect queries fos­tered my in­nate cu­rios­ity about people, places and things and the in­evitabil­ity of a jour­nal­ism ca­reer.

As the only grand­daugh­ter in our small

“The heat and hu­mid­ity never de­terred us from giv­ing our all in a com­pet­i­tive match. And when the op­por­tu­nity arose, we gath­ered for an im­promptu soft­ball game in the lower yard of Carol Wright’s home on Cir­cle Drive. I was never a great bat­ter — de­spite fa­ther-daugh­ter prac­tice ses­sions at my Prospect Av­enue res­i­dence — but just “get­ting in the game” and hav­ing fun were what mat­tered most.”

clan, I was treated to a few road trips out of town, one of the most mem­o­rable be­ing the time I was in­tro­duced to some rel­a­tives in Louisiana and af­ter­wards dis­cov­ered the won­drous white sands and Gulf Coast wa­ters of Biloxi, Miss. Imag­ine my wide-eyed re­ac­tion to stay­ing a few nights at the grand Edge­wa­ter Gulf Ho­tel, which, to my child­ish de­light, fea­tured a movie the­ater. Iron­i­cally — and sadly — that his­toric ho­tel with its glo­ri­ous am­bi­ence was later im­ploded and be­came the site for a shop­ping mall.

But, life moves on, and my later respites from rou­tine in­cluded learn­ing to drive, bridge classes at the old YWCA, a copy­edit­ing course at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri. I sup­pose sum­mers have al­ways been about what we make them. In any case, they’re gone in the blink of an eye and only fond mem­o­ries re­main.

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