By the 60's, the grandparents had installed an AC window unit in their dining room. After running around barefoot all day, fishing, crabbing and scouting for returnable bottles by the side of the road, the grandkids would crowd in front of the unit, pushing and shoving for the privilege of getting a full Arctic-like blast on our heat-flushed cheeks.
My mother and her siblings did not have this luxury during the summers of their childhood. Keeping cool then meant lying down for an afternoon nap in a darkened room. And getting the dreaded "pineapple haircut."
As soon as the pleasant temps of early spring warmed around Easter time, my nona marched her daughters to the neighborhood barber shop for identical short bobs. No amount of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth (and reportedly there was plenty) could get them out of this seasonal ritual. It was as inevitable as their hand-me-down Easter dresses. When a little Soljan girl grew hair long enough to cover her ear lobes, she was old enough for the pineapple haircut.
I'm not sure how this 'do came by its name. In the front, the cut was the classic ear-length precision bob topped off with a fringe of short bangs, not unlike the style sported by Prince Valiant and Buster Brown. The back was shingled, like a roof. Or perhaps like a pineapple top?
The inaugural cut of the season was entrusted to the skills of a professional barber. My nona administered the touch-up trims herself. If the girls were lucky, she turned the job over to her sister Frances who could cut in a straight line.
During the summer, when it was too hot to turn on the oven, salad platters, using leftovers, were frequently served for dinner. Here are a few of Nona's favorites. These are also included on page 22 of the Slavonian Ladies Auxiliary cookbook.
I. Cooked snap beans and boiled, sliced potatoes.
II. Boiled, peeled shrimp, sliced celery, sliced sweet pickles and raw onion rings.
III. Boiled meat (usually a piece of chuck roast left over from soup), sliced potatoes, sweet or dill pickles and raw onion rings. (My favorite)
Sprinkle platters with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The bean and shrimp platters are best served a little warm. The beef platter is best at room temperature.
Photo caption: The Soljan girls circa 1935. Clockwise from top left: Marie, Selema, Antonia and Dolores.