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WOLF: Missing the peeling skin and farmer’s tan of a Vancouver Island summer

COLUMN: Sunscreen budget way down this year but the nostalgia remains
Summer means fun time out in the sunshine. (Black Press file photo)

For the first time in decades, I approach the end of summer without even a hint of a tan.

I am paler than coconut meat.

I make sour cream look like overcharred steak. A corncob pipe and a button nose and I could pass for Frosty the Snowman.

Of course, summers are meant to be spent outdoors.

When I was a wee lad, it wasn’t a successful summer unless you spent at least a couple of days gleefully peeling off strips of skin, the remnant of a solid sunburn.

Bonus points, of course, if you could deftly peel the skin into the longest piece possible.

As you read this, I’ll bet you can actually hear the sound the peeling made.

Mind you, the glorious peeling followed at least one night of lying in bed, slathered in your mom’s Noxema, eating popsicles to keep your body temperature down and then venturing out the next day and praying none of your clown buddies slapped you on the back just for laughs.

Generally, much of the first half of summer was spent on the ballfield and/or golf course, so you had the spectacular ‘farmer’s tan’ to deal with.

Come August, you spent hours and hours at the river or the lake, eventually evening out your tan a little.

And that was assisted by further hours of basting yourself in baby oil, then lying in the backyard or at the beach cooking like a turkey.

A little later in life, you could also even things out neatly, accentuating your workouts, with some fake and bake time in the suntan beds.

It was a badge of honour for old guys to have pot bellies, Speedos, gold chains and shoeleather skin.

READ MORE: WOLF: Loss of a treasured family pet is never easy for anyone

Looking back, of course, that’s absolutely horrendous.

We’re all now aware of the dangers of UV rays.

Even a hardcore former sun worshipper like myself wouldn’t venture out without a layer of minimum 30 SPF, with a backup mini container at the ready.

To this day, every time I drive in the sun with my arm hanging out the window, I recall the Nanaimo Clippers goalie who drove in that fashion from Quebec to B.C. one summer, arriving with very significant arm burns.

The hours of baking have long been reduced to measured snippets (six songs, max, without a brief break).

All children on your watch were dunked in SPF 3000, with full-length sunsuits and dorky Gilligan hats.

All that said, I sure do miss the sun. As mentioned previously in this space, I’m still recovering from a surgery that has limited my movement and keeping cool and dry is a must.

This summer is a no-go, but I’m already plotting my grand 2024 tanning comeback special.

NOTE: If you’re of a certain vintage, what was your go-to tanning aid back in the day? Best spot on the Island to catch some rays? Any good sunburn stories? As always, send ’em my way.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf welcomes your questions, comments and story ideas. He can be reached at 250-905-0029 or via email at

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