It is truly summer now, as the tomatoes are coming off the vine. There is nothing better than the smell and taste of a home-grown tomato.

My grandmother on Northgate Road had a huge vegetable garden when I was small and living with her and my grandfather while my parents worked. I had my own little shovel to help till the field, so to speak. I had a small tomato plot and a pumpkin patch of my own, while my grandmother, whom I called Babi, had almost a third of her yard under cultivation.

What we did not eat fresh, she canned. My goodness, but how the complexities of life have changed that kind of undertaking.

Her yard was always a busy place for nature. There were always honeybees around. And so, I was most surprised to read that America is having a honeybee die-off on a great scale. What happened to the honeybees in my grandmother’s yard and everyone else’s as well?

It occurred to me that I am not seeing as many honeybees in my yard, either, anymore. Where are they? And, I am now noticing that there are no grasshoppers anymore. My lightning bugs are coming along well, but the infrequent and wonderful appearance of a dragonfly in the yard in my youth … well, that’s gone, too.

Have we now “developed” the land so much that these common insects have nowhere to go? Just asking.

It was good to have Jim Osberg stop by. His father, Ted, was a longtime Riverside merchant and Lions Club member. Jim, a professor at Southern Illinois University, was in Riverside helping to take care of his elderly mom while spelling his sister, and helping to plan a 40-some person Osberg family reunion for the fall.

Because of statewide elections, I have been able to watch Jim’s Carbondale branch of the Osberg family grow up. His son is now a commercial pilot. I remember him as a youngster who was fascinated with airplanes and just wanted to fly. Now he is doing it.

Jim is active in Republican politics in the Carbondale area, but noted that when he had seen a movie which had used Riverside as a backdrop, he was all about coming “home.”

Chuck Soumar, of Soumar Upholstering on Harlem Avenue in Riverside, recently joined Jim Peterik on my little WJJG radio show (Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m., 1530-AM) to talk about their continued participation in the Ides of March, a 1960s rock group with plenty of staying power.

It was fun to have them talk about the area (they were Morton West grads) and reminisce about places now gone. With talk of the Troy Store in Berwyn (now McDonald’s) and Peter Pan Restaurant in North Riverside (now Yia Yia’s), we talked of “cruising” along Ogden Avenue’s drive-ins, most specifically, Big Boy. It was a time when one did not worry about the cost of gas or global warming with less-than-efficient car engines.

Chuck has had a successful upholstering business which has been in the family for some 30-plus years. But, his avocation continues to be the Ides of March, which continues to entertain at fests on up to gigs in Las Vegas.

When I asked if the Ides had and still have “groupies” like the rock groups of today, Peterik noted that, yes, there were groupies, but the Ides referred to them as “extreme fans.”

The Ides travel with their families and make the group a family affair. It was nice to hear that the local boys had continued their musical careers but had kept their ties to the community strong and solid.