An amusing and poignant story from John Ratliff’s (JW) childhood. The movie was released in 1971 and the Frank Sinatra version of Summer Wind in 1966.


Summer of ‘42 

She took me to the movie theater on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

The poster behind the glass box depicted three boys on a beach with a pretty girl that we both recognized. Jennifer O’Neil model turned actress. She had a wholesome, natural beauty. An ivory soap girl.

“What do think?” she asked.

“Looks good to me.” I replied.

We were visiting my grandmother who lived over in Brigantine. I had shot the old bat in the face with a rubber band after she had tried to hit me with a frying pan. I should have known better than to be making noise while she was nursing another one of her hangovers… I was nine years old.

The trip to Atlantic City was my mother’s way of trying to make peace.

The movie turned out to be completely different than we expected; a beautiful coming of age story set in a small New England seaside village at the beginning of the second world war. Mom was not equipped to explain the adult themes of adolescent lust, first love, lost innocence and the brutal reality of war. Surprisingly I grasped most of what the director was trying to convey. I still smile when I remember the hilarious scenes of the three boys with their hormone-fueled obsessions. But more than anything else it is theme song  which still has the power to move me even after all these years. There is something magical about the combination of Sinatra’s voice, the lush string arrangement, the lyrics which tug on my heartstrings every time the melody caresses my ears,  it’s strange power transporting me back to that dark theater with my Mom sitting beside me so very long ago…

The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind
Like painted kites, those days and nights they went flyin’ by
The world was new beneath a blue umbrella sky
Then softer than a piper man, one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind
The autumn wind, and the winter winds they have come and gone
And still the days, those lonely days, they go on and on
And guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind
The summer wind
Warm summer wind
The summer wind” – Frank Sinatra
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