Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Family Vacation

Usually when we took a vacation, we went to visit family. Most of the time my paternal grandmother lived far from us so we went there several times. But in the 1950's vacations were something that wealthier people took. So there were not that many vacations.

When I was about 12 years old we took a vacation. It was to visit family. But these were family members we rarely saw because they lived so far away.

Daddy had a station wagon. We needed a lot of room because there were six of us kids then and we were also taking my grandmother.

We put the largest part of the luggage on top of the car and put the back seat down so there was one big area in the back. It was easier for us to sleep as we rode but at times uncomfortable for riding.

Daddy drove, Mom rode in the middle holding my baby sister, and Grandma was on the passenger's side. We were indeed crowded. We took the baby in the back with us when we could but rambunctious behavior sometimes made it hard.

So we set off from Nebraska to West Virginia. As he always did, Daddy pointed the car and drove at top speed in order to get where we wanted to be. Bathroom breaks were expected to be quickly taken care of when we stopped to refuel the car. Most of the time we ate sandwiches in the car but we might stop at a rest area and eat at a picnic table there. Other than that we drove right on through.

My mother's sister and her family lived in West Virginia. The only cousins my age lived there. All the rest were quite a bit older or quite a bit younger.

My aunt has a large family also. We had a real house full of children. I believe there were 15 of us. But we had a great time.

It was during the school year so my cousins had to go to school. One day I went to visit with my cousin who is my age. The wild ride in the school bus along the side of the mountain scared me to death. There was mountain on one side and nothing on the other. It seemed like the driver was trying to break the sound barrier with his speed. I can understand that because all the kids were up, yelling and screaming and horsing around the whole way.

I was greeted with the popularity that any novelty enjoys. I was not going to be there long so most of the students wanted to know what someone from another part of the world was like. They had a juke box in the room where they could go after they ate lunch. A lot of the kids did the latest dances. This was before American bandstand was popular so it was interesting to see the way they danced.

Then there was the wild ride home. I was ready to kiss the ground.

Their house was on the side of a barren mountain. My uncle was a coal miner and they lived in a company house. They shopped at the company store. My aunt wanted to show Mom what the company store was like so all the adults were going site-seeing. My uncle's sister was going to keep an eye on us. The only children not there were my baby sister and my aunt's baby daughter.

Aunt Goldie was a gem. She decided to lay down the law as soon as our parents left. That was not the wisest course when she was outnumbered 13 to 1. Actually we were pretty good. We went to the kitchen to make some toast and cocoa.

Aunt Goldie was sure we were up to no good so she was spying on us from outside through the kitchen window. The oldest of my cousins got up and closed the window. We considered locking her out of the house but did not. We all laughed as Aunt Goldie tried to open the window from outside but my cousin held it down. He was not going to allow her to open that window. She started to bang on the window. It broke. Of course we got the blame for it when our parents got Aunt Goldie's report.

Aunt Goldie loved the Lawrence Welk Show. We were banished from the living room so she could watch it. We were in hysterics as we peered around the corner to see her dancing (including up and over the furniture) to her favorite songs.

We went from West Virginia to Tennessee. My father's younger brother lived there with his family. At that time he had a son and a daughter. He was a barber.

My aunt was funny. She was very pretty. But she could not cook worth a lick! One evening she made us these treats before bed. Actually they were delicious. They were sweet and gooey. I kept telling Mom she should learn how to make them. When I asked my aunt what they were called, she said they were donuts. Mom took me aside and told me to go to bed and shut my mouth.

It turns out that what they were was made by taking canned biscuits and stretching a hole in them (I never saw a hole). Then they were deep fried and dipped in frosting. My aunt did not fully cook them so we were basically eating warm raw biscuit dough with frosting that kind of melted from the heat. That was her best dish.

My uncle wanted to show Daddy around town. Off they went. My aunt was frantic after about twenty minutes. She was going to find them and bring my uncle home. Grandma watched us while Mom went with her.

Daddy and my uncle came home after an hour or two. Much later Mom and my aunt came in. When my aunt was out of hearing range Mom said that she must have seen every moonshine still in the state. My aunt was certain that they had gone drinking.

My cousins were spoiled. We laughed at the way they would say, "Wanna dollar, Momma, wanna dollar." with their southern drawls.

While we were there I spotted a pair of shoes in the store window. I was in love with those shoes. I had saved my money from odd jobs I did like pulling weeds, delivering papers, and my job setting pins at the bowling alley. I really wanted those shoes.

So I had Mom go with me to see if she would approve. She was a bit unsure but it was my money. If I really wanted them I could buy them. I bought my first pair of high heels.

The next stop was my aunt's house in Cleveland, Ohio, to see my father's sister. My aunt had been married but divorced after a period of time. She had never had children. Being a converted catholic she did not believe in remarrying so she lived alone.

She had a very good job and was quite comfortable; not rich but comfortable. She was not thrilled that we were there I think. She did not take time from work to spend with us. She had a very ordered way of life.

Her apartment was lovely. It had a corner window of the building. I loved being able to sit at the window and watch the things going on in a big city.

We only stayed there a couple of days and we were on our way home. I think she was happy to see us go.

On the way home we passed through the Ozark Mountains. They are beautiful. What I remember most was the pipes coming out of the sides of the mountains. They had spring water coming from them. At that time people were welcome to stop and use the water for drinking or whatever. It was so sweet and cold. Now they have to put up signs stating that it is not for human consumption.

By now everyone was tired of traveling and even a little irritable at times. We had stopped for gas. When Grandma was getting in the car she became indignant and told my father that my mother had tried to hit her.

I do not know exactly what happened. All I saw was Grandma getting in the car in a huffy mood. Mom was sitting in the middle again. Mom grabbed the baby's blanket and jerked it out of Grandma's way. Grandma thought Mom was trying to hit her. I know that neither of them was happy.

All in all it was a good vacation. I got to see people and places that I had not seen before. And I know we were all glad to be home.


  1. I would like to get a chance to see Ozark Mountains. They sound neat.
    I am so happy that you remember your vacation time so vividly. I have very faint pictures of any vacation we took. You are right about only the rich getting vacation time.

    1. For some reason I have vivid memories of most of my childhood. I enjoyed it so much that I must have wanted to keep it as long as I could.