The bungalows were scrupulously repainted two-tone each and every year. In spring, when restocking for the coming summer, Charlie, the colony owner, purchased whichever exterior paint color was the least expensive–usually red or blue. This was mixed with white paint, the result a lighter pastel shade–pink or a variation of turquoise–somewhat like the cast of the small shanties and cottages in the Caribbean. Funny, but I remembered this the last time I was in the Bahamas and secretly wondered if the Bahamian women had a hot mah-jongg game underway. The pastel color extended from the ground halfway to the roof, then it turned to white. Every Memorial Day weekend, my brother and I would wager on what color the bungalows had been painted for the coming summer.
Pink mixed with red and orange, the sky ablaze, at evening’s vesper, as we strolled from bungalow to bungalow, the coals still glowing red in some bar-b-queues. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to stumble upon a friend’s mother replete with an unopened bag of Campfire marshmallows, and quickly, sharpened sticks in hand, we’d skewer the cottony white puffs and toast them golden over the dying embers.
Evening was aglow with the illumination of three dozen colored light bulbs, strung in sequence along the colony road-front. Red, yellow, blue, orange, violet, green–each like a small, wondrous planet set against the mat of the inky blue and star-studded Catskill night.
There was the slick, caramel brown of the bungalow’s knotty pine walls, and the milky white of the paint that was slathered halfway up every tree to discourage infestation of bugs and pests. I remember the contrasting orange and white of an ice-cold Creamsicle melting away on a warm July afternoon, and the basic black of every inflated inner tube we ever carted off to the swimming pool. The salmon-orange of salamanders scurrying on the blacktop after a rain, and the deep brown of a glass of Crowley’s chocolate milk poured creamy and cold from the fridge. There was the lush, vivid green of the high summer lawn, and the fading yellow-green of stains on your shorts and tee shirts from rolling around, or playing ball, or wrestling on the grass. There was the apple-lobster red of each and every painful sunburn, and the opposing white of gobs of awful smelling Noxema. The swimming pool, it’s bottom painted blue, shown like a pristine sea amidst the verdant stand of birch and pine. The light in August was warm and pure and cast all around us in the soft glow of candlelight on copper, fixing it forever in memory, a reservoir against the pull of time.
They say we dream in black and white. Not me. When I dream of the days when we were younger and innocent and all things were possible, it’s always of summer, and it’s always in Technicolor.