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.