One of the fond memories of my youth was vacationing with my family. My Dad would have several weeks vacation built up and we would travel to see my grandparents. Or maybe we would take a day trip to a place of interest. Or even a weekend trip where we would meet up with family friends.
All of these categories had one thing in common. Several hours in the car. Which meant I had to find a way to pass the time. Reading, and watching the scenery, and auto bingo were the most chosen. At that time, there wasn’t a DVD player or video games available to entertain me. But I am getting away from what I want to share about this: my memories of traveling.
Travel in the fifties was accomplished on two lane roads at the time. There were a few interstates, but the system was still in its infancy, so you could actually see the sights by the side of the road as you passed. Burma Shave signs, by the road in groups, were a big thing back then:
On curves ahead
That rabbit’s foot
To men who’ve had
No date of late
That’s like a cactus
Takes more nerve
Than it does practice
And these trips had stops at many different locales. One one trip, we drove through Dodge City, Kansas. That stop included a trip to Boot Hill where Wyatt Earp sent many an outlaw. There was an open grave under glass there, where people dropped coins and currency. I wish I could remember why they did that. For good luck seems like a very suspicious reason. After all, the one below luck had certainly run out.
Another trip we took through Hannibal, Missouri. There we saw the house of Tom Sawyer, the fence committed to literary fame, and saw a history of the time when Mark Twain grew up there. Since more than a century had passed, it was a little hard to imagine what the streets looked like then. I believe it was on this particular trip that we stopped by a wax recreation of s stagecoach stop. You stood outside looking through the windows at the wax figures and could push a button to hear a recorded description of what you were observing.
When we lived on the east coast, we traveled to see the civil war battlefields. (By now the interstate system was complete and no more Burma Shave). We traveled through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, stopping at the area and visiting the accompanying museum. We toured the Gettysburg area and saw the well publicized electric map. Somehow after those 100 years, you could still imagine the battles while you were visiting. And some 40 years after I visited, my daughter visited the area on a bus tour with her eighth grade class.
Now that I am the driver, I must admit with some regret that I have not been able to take my family on many vacations by auto. We have been to Mt. Rushmore, New York City, and Canada by car. Fortunately my daughter has had some travel vacations with her grandparents, so she has not really missed out on rest stops, and having to pass the time while traveling by car. It is an experience I think everyone should have.
Please share a memory that you have had while traveling by car in the comment section below.