Summers with Fresh Air kids

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(Host) Commentator Edith Hunter recalls summers with Fresh Air kids.

(Hunter) In a recent email to daughter Elizabeth I told her that April, Will and Sammy had entertained a Fresh Air guest this summer. Elizabeth closed her next email with these words: “Pass, Mrs. Hunter! Pass!”

During the 13 years that we lived in Milford, New Hampshire our children, three boys and a girl, ranged from13 down to 1, and we welcomed one or two Fresh Air guests every summer. We met the children in Keene and then drove back to Milford. On one memorable drive I was explaining to our two guests the significance of the markings on the highway. I explained that when Elizabeth was a little girl she had thought that the double yellow line down the middle of the road was where the motorcycles were supposed to travel. We all had a good laugh and thought of the high mortality rate that would have resulted.

Then I explained that, of course, the two solid yellow lines really meant that I should not pass, but that when there was a solid yellow line with a broken yellow line on my side of the road, it was all right for me to pass. From then on, if the broken yellow line appeared on our side, one of the boys would shout, “Pass, Mrs. Hunter! Pass!” I had to explain that even though the line on our side was broken, if another car were coming toward us, I had to wait to pass.

Another memorable comment came from a first time visitor as we traveled the open country between Keene and Milford. After going through mile after mile of woods and fields, Ricky asked: “Is this all park?” A picture of his world flashed before us – any woods or open spaces indicated parks.

By the time we moved to Weathersfield in 1969 our boys had developed a magic show featuring Oriental magicians – I Foo You (Will), See Ling (Charles), and, when available, Too Fat (Graham). The magic show, part of a Variety Show given up at the Center Meeting House, was a well-attended benefit for the Fresh Air Fund. We drew on Aunt Mary’s collection of lovely kimonos for costumes. In addition, See Ling wore a volcano from his Science Fair project for a hat. In 1971, the last year that we entertained a Fresh Air guest, the magicians became international and were joined by “Valdo the Magnificent,” Evaldo Lopez. Along with one of Aunt Margaret’s kimonos (she was short and Evaldo was small), Evaldo wore Grandmother’s snug black velvet turban with a diamond stick-pin in front.

Recently I was delighted to receive a note from Evaldo, with word that he and his wife, Maritza, and little son Nicholas, had just bought their own home in Florida. Whenever I go in my closet, the little hat (with stickpin) high on a shelf above four silk kimonos brings back memories of magic shows, our Fresh Air guests, and that cry, “Pass, Mrs. Hunter! Pass!”

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center, Vermont.

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