Summer 1987. Warm comfortable nights, hot days. Riding horses when my parents, sister and grandparents visited; having contests with Clark on how many rib bones we could toss into the waste can using the serving tongs…and doing so in front of the customers; getting autographs from everybody on a souvenir-and purloined-apron; playing practical jokes on Marvin; acting stupid in front of a pretty girl just to show Clark I wasn’t a dork.
July third and fourth were the two busiest days of the summer. I worked from ten o’clock each morning and didn’t stop moving until about nine that evening. We went through so many burgers and chicken it was ridiculous. I was thoroughly exhausted after those two days.
Of course, I worked during the Sturgis bike rally. For endless days, there were no cars on Keystone’s streets. I had to work nine days straight, eleven to thirteen hours per day, because I was the only one of age to be around for beer to be sold at our stand.
Where the hell Marvin was, I don’t recall, but after the bikers left, I told him I was taking two days off the following week and I dictated the specific days.
My love life went through a second short-lived experience. I don’t remember how I met the particular girl, but she lived in Sturgis. One day, I drove over to her house one day-wasting a couple of hours fixing a flat tire on the interstate (I couldn’t figure out how to jack up the car)-and going with her family to the grocery store. I think I gave her flowers, but nothing ever developed. I don’t even recall her name.
I also don’t remember the name of the girl who lived next door to the camp office where I stayed for my tenure up there. Which is really a sad thing, because, apparently I greatly impressed her. We were friends even though I don’t recall ever hanging out with her too much. On the morning I left to return home to Iowa, she had put a huge banner on my windshield saying she’d miss me. I thought that was pretty neat and I regret not remembering her name or keeping in touch.
The fourth man in our cabin stayed but a short time. Clark and Jennifer departed middle August and Paul stayed a few days longer after I left. By summer’s end, I had a month’s beard growth irritating my face (a week after the semester started I shaved the face clean. I just couldn’t stand all that hair). My father hugged me so tightly when I pulled into the driveway; I so glad to be home.
I loved that summer, mainly because I can remember so much of it. Give me a random year and I couldn’t tell you much about it, but 1987 was special. It wasn’t even my first visit to the Black Hills; we’d taken a family vacation years before. But it was a time of discovery, of laughter, tears, rock ‘n roll, together time, and alone time. I saw stupid people, beautiful people, and lost people trying to find themselves. I made friends I wish had stayed in touch.
To Paul, Jennifer, Clark, Warren, Amy, Sheila and all the rest whose names have slipped my mind (if I dig out that old apron I’d remember you better) – thanks. I wish we could all have a reunion and laugh about that wonderful summer. I’ll remember you and that summer each time I hear Steve Winwood or Lionel Ritchie.
That glorious, wonderful, exciting, summer of 1987.