Monday, May 26, 2014

I Am Forever Blowing Bubbles

With the coming of Memorial Day and the official start of summer, I'm reminded of what that meant to me as a child.  First, and foremost of course, was no school. Other benefits included sleeping in, family road trips,watching daytime television, playing in the woods behind our house, swimming in the backyard pool, reading comic books and generally just loafing around.  Inevitably, some portion of the summer would be spent blowing bubbles.  It wasn't something my sister and I did frequently, but at some point during the summer, we would decide it was time.  Sometimes, we even had the store-bought bubbles in the small plastic jar that came with the two-sided wand that would always slide down inside the jar causing you to search in frantic circles in the slippery liquid.  Actually, I believe only one side was meant for blowing, the other for your finger, but frankly, I didn't see a difference in the bubble quality of those blown from either side.

My mother would chase us outside on the patio (no bubbles in the house, they stain the walls!) at which point my father would run us off the patio (no bubbles on the patio, it stains the concrete!)  Once out in the grass, we'd blow bubbles to our heart's content, chasing them, popping them with our fingers, catching them on your tongue and deciding to never try that again because they tasted so awful, and trying to catch them on the wand so we could blow the elusive double bubble.

More often than not, we didn't have the store-bought bubble variety.  My mother convinced us the magic solution was nothing more than soap detergent and water (actually, it also contains glycerin which gives bubbles their elasticity and which is why I could never blow a decent bubble with my mom's concoction.)  But her mixture was effective for bubble blowing pipes where only a frothy mixture was needed.

I found these vintage bubble pipes at a garage sale for a quarter.  It brought back bubble-blown memories of summer.

There are two distinct styles.  The traditional and more realistic bowl pipe, good for single bubbles.

And the corncob-style triple or quadruple bubble blower.

These pipes were made in Hong Kong placing their age in the 60's to early 70's.

Maybe you can still find them in dollar stores, but I couldn't find any contemporary pipes for sale online.  More than likely, these fell out of favor with parents, concerned it would encourage smoking. I'm not so sure of that.  I blew pipe bubbles, ate candy cigarettes, chewed shredded bubble gum "tobacco" and even attempted to make my own cigarettes out of paper and pencil shavings, yet I've never smoked.  So I say, blow 'em if you got 'em.

Here's some online recipes for homemade bubbles.  Most call for brand-name dishsoap (Dawn or Joy), water and glycerin.  I've found you can substitute corn syrup for glycerin.

Back then, summers seemed in endless supply.  Who knew that our childhood summers, like so many soap bubbles, would eventually burst, never to be seen again.


  1. this may be the most evocative and melancholy post you've ever written. : \

  2. Back when I was 5 years old 1971.I had a bubble blowing pipe,and still have it and it still works.

    1. That's cool, Unknown. None of mine survived childhood, but I still have these.


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