Mostly my folks sent my sister and me to camp to get us out of the Washington summer heat. And most summers we went to a camp in Massachusetts -- Owaissa (that-means-bluebird-in-Indian, they told us).

But one summer, for reasons lost in the mists of those many years ago, we went to a different camp. It was in West Virginia, on some river or other instead of the lovely Lake Garfield at Owaissa. We hated it. And besides, it was swept by some sort of gastrointestinal something that kept most of the campers and counselors on tea and dry toast.

After a few weeks my folks came and took us away. First, to make up for the disappointment (ha -- they never knew how delighted we were), they took us on our first visit to Atlantic City. Steel Pier and the Diving Horse. Then it was back home to somehow get through the last five or six weeks before Labor Day. I remember trumpet vines and hummingbirds around the garage, and great vines of little pink roses with petals so tiny we would carefully take them apart, lick them and paste them (very temporarily) on our fingernails.

That was the summer of the Great Monopoly Game. (Note that it was also the summer we discovered where the streets on the Monopoly board came from.) The players, in addition to me and my sister, were two boys on our block who were approximately our age. One was named Quentin. One was named Gerald. Gerald could play "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" on the piano. I think he became a surgeon. I don't remember anything about Quentin. The last names are lost in the mist.

We played the same game, every day, rain or shine. We horse-traded, we mortgaged, we ganged up on one or another or were ganged up on. Nobody went bankrupt. Nobody dropped out. I don't even think anybody cheated. And I mean the same game. Each night the board was meticulously preserved on a card table in somebody's living room, houses and hotels and property and money carefully stored in four separate piles.

Finally, when it was almost Labor Day, and probably because we had all had enough of one another's company, the game took a turn for the cutthroat. I think we must have ganged up on Gerald, because I remember the game stopped when he upended the board and houses and hotels and Monopoly money went flying into our backyard. We never did find all the pieces.

Anyway, it was time to start stripping the seed pods on the mimosa tree for Halloween confetti . . .