Not counting winter, which was its own world, three seasons mattered in Fairfield:

Spring, when we got ready for summer. Nearly everyone had a garden and if you didnít have one, you lived next to somebody who did. We managed two of them, and we never really saw it as work. Picking strawberries was an eveningís project. Picking beans Ö by the bucketful. (Oh, we have to snap them now? Bummer!!) We grew everything from kale to okra, sweet potatoes to turnips, and we canned a lot of it. To this day, I will NOT eat stewed tomatoes. Canít make me, donít try. Our gardens were big enough to plow, rather than till. A small tractor could do it in an hour.

Hereís little Bobby Bowers finding fishiní worms in our main garden. I canít be sure whoís on the tractor. It may be his dad. Sometimes, Dimmitt Butcher plowed our garden. You could always find somebody. Gardens were important.

Summer, when the neighbors were friendly and we wore shorts, played ball and did all the things people do when the weatherís hot and nobody had air conditioning. We were blessed to have friendly neighbors, for the most part. Oh, a few folks around town feuded but there were plenty of reasons to forgive in those days. Among our most cherished neighbors were the Stelles, who lived across the street. Nelson, whose dad Herb and mother Doris lived next door, was a big promoter of kids. Men like him kept a lot of boys out of trouble. His son Mark was a few years younger than Joel and I but we spent lots of afternoons in his side yard, playing Wiffle Ball. (The trees in the background were the right field fence into Loree Banning's garden.) I saw Mark at the '06 reunion and his sister Brenda at the '08 event.

Fall, when it was almost always poltical season. My parents were more active politically than I ever saw as necessary but it went with the territory. Starting in the late 1950s, my step-father A.J. Banning Jr., supported the candidacy of Vance Hartke for senator, and a couple of years later campaigned for Birch Bayh (father of Evan) in the other U.S. Senate race. By the early 1960s, Lee Hamilton was on the agenda. Hamilton became the congressman for the 9th District and stayed there Ö you may have seen him lately as a vice-chairman of the 9/11 commission that probed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I wonít comment on the politics of any of these men other than they all left office with their integrity intact. This Pontiac Catalina, by the way, was so easy to drive. I wish they made cars like that now. Of course, I was 17!