COFFEE SHOP TALK – The Sweetest Days of Summer

The sun, the heat, The Beach Boys singing California Girls takes me back. Back to Bryan, Texas. Back to the summer between grade eight and nine. Every day Norma, Jackie and I sat on the concrete at Haswell pool in the sweltering sun, listening to The Beach Boys on someone’s transistor radio. It was all about surfers those days: surfer shirts and shoes, Bermuda shorts, going kooky over boys with surfer haircuts and wishing we lived in California. Every once in a while, we jumped off the diving board to cool off. But mostly we stayed on our towels.

It was also the summer of Wayne, Robert and Tommy – the boys we loved from afar. We talked about them for hours. Norma had more of a chance with Wayne than Jackie had with Robert, a snobby football player. I liked Tommy, who worked the night shift during the summer at the factory. The closest I got to him was to ask, “Milkshake with your chilli dog and fries?” when he showed up at The Buccaneer, where I worked part time. 

The following year, I graduated from Lamar Junior High. I also graduated from Haswell Pool to Cain Pool at Texas A&M University with Betty and Gloria. That summer, it wasn’t about grade nine boys. Betty and Gloria had their eyes on college guys. After all, in September we would be grade ten sophomores in Stephen F. Austin High School. But Betty and Gloria didn’t swoon over The Beach Boys or Robert, Wayne and Tommy. Nor did they go into the pool, didn’t want to get their bikinis and perfect hair wet – I had a two-piece swimsuit that my aunt helped me make. While they posed, I climbed to the high diving board and jumped off. They never invited me again. So, I returned to Haswell Pool with Norma and Jackie. Much more fun listening to the transistor radio, talking about soon-to-be high school boys, and dreaming about The Beach Boys and California. Those were the best days. The perfect days. The sweetest days of summer. 

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Sheila Horne graduated from George Brown’s Creative Writing Program and is the author of three novels: Sunshine Girls, Paper Sun, and Place in the Sun. She is also the co-author of Temple of Light, a book of poems inspired by the Sharon Temple. Her poems and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. To read more, visit, author or

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