Do you remember your first summer love?

Do you remember your first summer love?

Boy, I bet that shook loose a few cobwebs.

Hadn't thought about that person in years, had ya?

Can't remember what you had for dinner Monday night. Not sure about today's date, and you gotta call out all your kids' names, and the dog's, until you come up with the one you really want. But after several decades, you can still say the name of that first summer love as if you heard it just seconds before.

It was a puppy love that began in July with an awkward stare and ended near Labor Day with an innocent kiss that only took you two months to get up the courage to deliver.

Before leaving, you exchanged addresses and phone numbers and took a solemn pledge to keep in touch the minute you got home. Ah, young love.

"You'll write?"

"Every day."

"You'll call?"

"Every night. Twice."

"You won't date anyone else?"

"Why would I?"

The reality was that you'd never see or hear from that person again.

That's what a summer love is really all about. A vow to be together for all eternity — until the end of time arrives with the sound of the first school bell.

That'll snap you back to your senses.

My summer romances were of that puppy-love variety, spread among the various hotels and bungalow colonies where we stayed in Sullivan. There was a pattern to them. I'd have a crush on a girl and before long, she'd crush my crush. But I persevered.

I'd share small talk with my fellow counselor-in-training as we taught campers the intricacies behind the lanyard box stitch. There were group dates to the arcade on Broadway in Monticello, weekly trips to the Aladdin Hotel's Ali Baba Room for camp dances and moonlight walks while on night patrol.

When the relationship actually advanced, a bunch of us would gather by the ball field for a hot game of spin the bottle. Our biggest fear was not so much getting caught by our parents, but getting our braces caught while honing our kissing skills.

I think the real secret to a summer romance is that they're as unpredictable as the eating habits of those summer hotel guests. Just when you think they're done — a sweet thing catches their eye and they're ready for more.

My last summer romance was in 1977. I was not only trying to figure out how to carry 16 mains from the Shady Nook kitchen, but how I could in all good conscience accept the advances of a pretty local girl with long, blond hair and small, green eyes.

She had been Lou Schwartz's steady. When that summer began, Lou was my best friend and fellow working stiff in the dining room.

To this day, I'll never understand, nor will I ever question, why Lou's girl wanted to go out with his gawky friend who wore as much borscht as he served. In the annals of summer love, this was a doozy.

Lou was my friend. You don't do that to friends.

Then again, we hadn't been friends for very long.

I might have been sniffing too much sour cream, but not enough to dull the senses. I dumped Lou and went with the girl.

We caught a Winnie the Pooh flick at the old Rivoli in South Fallsburg and the stock car races at the Orange County Fair Speedway. I tried to impress her by blowing two hundred bucks of tip money to win her a life-sized stuffed animal and pay extra for seats closer to the racetrack. That night we ate dust, went deaf and went home without the life-sized stuffed animal.

It had all the trappings of a summer romance — including the pledge that we'd be together forever.

I haven't seen Lou since we parted on Labor Day.

Five years later, the pretty blonde with green eyes married the gawky friend — minus the borscht stains.

Happy 25th anniversary.

Barry Lewis is the Sullivan County editor for the Times Herald-Record. He can be reached at 794-3712 or at