Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vacations, Part Two...

This was one of the places that I enjoyed most on one of our trips. This would have been about 1955. We were at Petrified Forest. Aunt Annie, my daddy's sister, is standing on the left. She went with us on a number of trips. For years I thought she went to help keep us heathens rounded up but she really did love to travel. Whenever we would stop to stretch our legs, eat a bite by the road or take a bathroom break, in our walking around the area if Aunt Annie saw a little cactus or another kind of plant she would dig it up and stash it in a corner of the trunk or where ever she could find a little spot so's she could take it home and add it to her garden. I think she planted the seeds of the joy of growing stuff in me way back then. It just took a lot of years to come to fruition.
My baby brother is next to her, then my sister and me were sitting up on top of the petrified stump.

My mom, me and Ben, the baby brother, throwing rocks at a stop. I think this was at Painted Desert. We all would take every advantage of stretching our legs. Imagine being in an early Fifties car, probably about this time is when we had a '52 Hudson, and there being seven people in the car. I remember being on my knees in the back floorboard and laying on the back seat to take a nap. I slept really good that way and I didn't fall over against my brother or sister and get rudely awakened. My daddy was in his element with telling us all about what ever place we were visiting. He and momma both loved teaching us about different things in life but daddy, particularly, loved being outdoors and seeing all the different places. It was one of the major reasons why all us kids hoped to live until we were old enough to drive. Our daddy was the original rubber-necker, looking at birds here and trees or flowers over yonder and scaring the beJesus out of anybody in the car with him. We joked about mom and dad having six of us kids so at least some of us would live long enough to drive them where ever they wanted to go as they got older. I think it took momma all of one trip whenever we got a new car to make an imprint in the floorboard where she would try to brake whenever daddy was driving.

Another photo in the Petrified Forest. Ben and sister Sue standing in front of a huge base of a tree. It was extraordinary to see these incredible trees that were once wood and had been laying around in this world so long that they were turned into rocks. I have been fascinated with stones since that time... not enough to become a geologist but to enjoy and appreciate all different kinds of gemstones that I enjoy using to make jewelry. They don't even have to be expensive stones, just the beauty of them, the different colors you can see in each rock... this intrigue was born in me in the stones we saw in the Petrified Forest.

Here's my Bro, Walter, my middle brother posed for this photo somewhere in the southwest... I think again at Painted Desert. Unfortunately these photos I found while I was scanning a box of pictures was neither dated nor were there any captions of locations. I know that on this trip we managed to stop at the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon but I'm doing the educated guess thing at some of these pictures. An anecdote about the Bro... he was being a smart mouth about something, teasing one of us other kids and mom reached back to the backseat to backhand him to get him to straighten up... he ducked and
Sue got it right in the kisser. What you need to understand is momma would never have slapped any of us. She wasn't opposed to bustin' our butts but she, as far as I know, never slapped any of us and the backhand that was directed at Bro was one of those off hand, half way knuckle thumpers to get his attention. Mom was almost embarrassed when Sue got it. Of course Bro and the rest of us got a big laugh and Sis wasn't hurt, just surprised.

These are but a few of the things that I remember about one of our trips. We had more adventures when we would go to California because when we went to Tennessee for reunions we had friends and family in Arkansas to stay overnight with and then we would stay with one of our aunts and uncles. There were lots of stories to tell about family reunion trips but I just got started on the trips out west so that's where this post took us. The main thing to me was it was undivided, for the most part, family time. I've always had more fun with my parents and my siblings than most anybody else. I've taken trips with friends and significant other people in my life but for rib tickling, rollicking fun and teasing and good times... for me it was all about family.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Vacation Thoughts...

While I was sitting here watching T.V. and messing around on the computer a commercial caught my attention and set me to thinking. The ad was about the parents surprising the kids with a trip to Disney Land. The children, I think there were three, were jumping up and down or looking in disbelief at their folks wondering if they were really telling the truth.The narrator was talking over the clip about while it's great to surprise the kids with the trip and enjoy the experiences with them, he also was saying that the kids were going to grow up in no time and no parent wants to miss anything about their children growing up. Y'all know the sales pitch and the 'guilt' trip...

I started thinking about the trips we went on growing up and the difference between my generation and today's generation. First off I don't ever remember taking a 'vacation'. We went on family trips every summer it seems. Most times we went back east to Tennessee for family reunions but occasionally we would head out west to California to visit mom's sister and her family. Now one of the things about going on trips back in the Fifties was motels were virtually non-existent. There were motor hotels which were cabins with a carport between each one that the tired traveler could park their car in out of the weather and handy to load and unload the things needed each night. And dad would start looking in his John Brown College directory of alumni for JBC folks along whichever route we were taking to California, the southern route or the northern route. He would call and find out who might be home and able to take in our family which, depending on which of us kids were making the trip, might be able to put us up for the night. A lot of times our Aunt Annie would go with us so there might be as little as four or five
or as many as eight of us. I remember meeting a lot of really nice families, a number of whom we would put up for a night or two when they were taking trips so it was not just bumming a place for the night for mom and dad. Momma always made sure that we helped pick things up and make up the beds or pallets us kids might have slept on and put the house back in order and always there was an open invite that anytime they might travel to Okla. City area they must come and stay with us and allow us to return the hospitality.

The big commercial place we went to was Knott's Berry Farm. It was very interesting and, yes, we were all excited, but all us kids loved going to places like the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert, or going to see the sequoia trees and the Petrified Forest. Another really big memory for me was driving the California coast highway. Or the time we had to plan to drive through Death Valley at night when it was at it's coolest. We made sure to fill the heavy canvas water bag that was hung from the front grill and bumper in case the car overheated and boiled out the water. Didn't want to get trapped in Death Valley, don't you know. A lot of times we would stop along the side of the road and buy fresh veggies and fruits from the farmers that had stands along the way. If they had an old wood picnic table by the fruit stand a lot of times we would take a break and eat our fresh bought tomatoes, apples and peaches or plums and momma and Aunt Annie would make up sandwiches for us and daddy would buy us pops to drink or lemonade if the folks sold it with their other foods. Momma, after having six of us heathens, always had a little something stashed to avoid the whines of I'm hungry, let's stop. Daddy always had an idea about how far he wanted to go each day and where he wanted to stop for the night. It wasn't too important unless we were staying in someone's home and then it was very important so's not to put folks out that were kind enough to put us up.

Anyway, the point I'm working up to is the things I remember most about our trips was the time spent with mom and dad and hanging out with my sibs and teasing each other and exploring new places or walking the beach picking up shells. It wasn't buying souvenirs although I'm sure we bugged mom and dad or Aunt Annie to buy us this or that, it was doing the family things and meeting new friends and seeing incredible places that would just hold us spellbound.

I'm getting tired so I'll pick this up again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just A Snippet…

Sometimes when you really don’t have anything to do… Read the program guide on the T.V. For some reason this cracked me up…

compactor 004

Then take a photo and put it on your blog… umm humm.

Too much time on my hands?

Friday, April 1, 2011


I'm here to tell you that introspection is tough. I've been feeling really bad for the last couple of weeks. I've been through bronchitis and dealing with what seems to be the latest vampire pit stop with different blood tests checking for different ailments, numerous gall bladder tests, chest x-rays and other miscellaneous b.s. that the doc thought up to try to figure out why I've been feeling like a truck ran over me. Let's face it... it's too dang much when you tell Smiley at the lab to draw out of your right arm because they just took an i.v. needle out of your left arm a couple of days before. Not trying for sympathy or anything with the telling of this tale, simply leading up to my revelations.

As some of you know when you are not well or feeling just like the dickens, whatever the reason, we get to being retrospective. Sometimes it's a good thing to do and other times it's just because our minds get to running in circles and don't have sense enough to light down someplace. I decided, with all the lucidity of what little brain cells I have that are still active, that contrary to popular belief... 60 is not the new 40. Not unless you feel a hell of a lot better than I do. Somebody is doing a really big sales job.

The "Golden Years" are gold, alright. They are gold for the doctors. I have had in the past two weeks, three blood draws, two i.v.'s hooked up for two different tests and one ultrasound that didn't have any involvement with needles.. yea. I don't even want to think about the bills that are going to come in after medicare takes care of what little they do pay. And the worst part is the last two days I've felt like crap in a different way than when I talked to the doctor and all this testing stuff got started.

This has gone a totally different direction than when I first started writing this post. I didn't mean to turn this into a total bitch session. I would just like to feel halfway human again. To not be worried about getting in the car and driving for an hour to go visit my cousin and my brother or to jump in the car and drive for three hours to visit family in Ft. Worth. So I'm going to shut this post down and re-contemplate what I was going to write originally.

Next post will be lighter. I promise.

Oh, and so far everything is negative...