It was everywhere in the 1960’s, in the time before sunscreen.
The Coppertone baby.
I grew up in a family that tanned easily. Except for me.
I freckled, burned and peeled. Every year of my childhood.
If I worked on it really hard, sweating in the hot, humid summer air, I’d get some color.
But mostly, it would wash off with a good bath, or fade after a cloudy, rainy day.
The summer vacations at the Jersey shore were especially challenging. Mostly everyone could be out on the beach all day. I had to limit my time there, or duck under the boardwalk.
Solarcaine did not work.
When I moved to Salt Lake City as a young adult, I decided to take some time off during the summer, for the first time since the early teen years.
There is little or no cloud cover in Salt Lake’s near-desert climate. I was used to the ethic that said if the sun was out, you should be as well.
After a week or two, I was tanning for the first time in my life, increasing exposure until I could stay out for a few hours without a burn.
I gave up on tanning lotions, turned to using Crisco shortening. I was really cooking now.
I began to pray for a rainy, cloudy day. It never came.
I developed that brown, leather-like tan. I also developed pre-cancerous skin lesions.
It was the first and last time I had a real tan.
It was just not meant to be.
And I’ve come to a place of peace with the freckles.