The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Vacation Adventures with Guest Hijacker Jarm Del Boccio

           It's vacation season for many of us.   I'm just returning from an 2 1/2 week road trip to Houston, Texas and Orlando, Florida and back to my home in Los Angeles.  Perhaps I'll relate some of that journey in weeks to come, but for today we have a vacation memory from my guest Jarm Del Boccio who can be found at her blog Making the Write Connections.  In this season appropriate post, Jarm retells a story that she first presented during the A to Z Challenge.

Road-Tripping Vacation Memories 1950s Style


Debonair Mom!
        Every summer, since both my Mother and I followed the school holiday schedule (she was a school social worker), we would take off  in one of the cardinal directions to visit family and friends.  I remember a red Ford station wagon in the 50's,  a blue Rambler wagon in the 60's, and later, a white Rambler Marlin with red interior that Mom let me choose from the used car lot!  Heading out west we would camp along the way.  Any other trip we would stay a night in a motel.
Me next to our red Ford
StationWagon

          One such accommodation reminded me of the Bates Motel in Psycho (which I watched as a child with my best friend one night).  I timidly checked behind the shower curtain, and was relieved to find it clean and empty.   Even so, I was a bit uneasy during our stay. We left without incident, and headed towards our destination.  

          We would stop often to take a break, and ended up many times at Stuckey's (we never did figure out if the u was short or long).  There we enjoyed all things pecan; my favorite being pecan pie.   I remember a shop with all sorts of souvenirs; ash trays, toothpick holders, diaries...all stamped with the state we were traveling through.  Then there were the pecan goodies...pies, tarts, brittle, and candies.

          Our trip from Chicago to Alaska one summer was memorable, not just because of the distance, but because of the fact that my Mom, in her late 50's now, took a friend along to help with the driving.  Nothing unusual about that, except her friend Alvina, had a broken leg. Thankfully, it was her left, so, we were okay, but Mom did most of the driving.
Mom and Me with Uncle Sam
in Alaska

           Well, for awhile anyway, until the return trip. We headed down the AlCan Highway, which just happened to be under construction that summer.  I don't know if she wasn't paying attention to the road, or lost control, but Alvina drove our red Ford station
wagon over the boulders heaped up in the median strip, ripping out the entire underside of the vehicle.  Somehow, out of nowhere, a semi came into view, and ended up rescuing us.  What an adventure it was for me to sit in the upper bunk of the 18 wheeler as we drove to our lodgings for the night!  A missionary family, the Crabbs, whom my mother had contacted in our plight, took us in for the night. We ended up staying with them while our car was being repaired.



         
        In my early childhood, we had an ugly Army green Hudson that crawled up the curb and hit a light post with myself and my cousins from NY crammed inside.  It seemed that Mom was distracted with something, and didn't notice that one of us was sitting on the shift, and it had launched the car into the drive position.  No injuries, just a bit shaken that's all!

        Mom loved to be on the go...she drove on the interstate, down country roads, and through fog up in the Rocky Mountains at night.  One summer we drove through Yellowstone National Park, and as a large black bear approached the car, I screamed, "Shut the window, shut the window"!   She calmly passed it by and moved on...Mom was
invincible!

Mom, Me (on left) and NY
family

        Mom traveled to Europe in her early teens with her own mother, and then later, with me in my early teens.  It seemed like a right of passage.  I didn't want to go to Europe.  I wanted to stay at home with my friends.  But, what an experience and education I
had...I wouldn't trade it for anything!

        We visited family in Bratislava during the summer of 1968.  I remember feeling the tension in Czechoslovakia, something in the air. I was afraid for some reason that we would be stuck in the country, and my worst fears were realized.   At the border, on our way out, we were detained by the Communist guards because we did not have the correct papers.  I sat down and cried, "I told you so!", as Mom deftly but firmly negotiated with them.  She had no fear and no foes...only the desire to turn wrongs to right.

        Thankfully, her Slovak cousin, John, a communist sympathizer (only to keep his job), vouched for us, so they let us go.  A week later, sitting in Wimpy's burger restaurant  somewhere in London, Mom opened the newspaper, only to discover that the Russians had invaded Czechoslovakia.  We escaped none too soon!

       Every four years, we would take a trip to the World's Fair... first Seattle, then, New York, Montreal and finally, New Orleans, which were spread throughout my childhood summers.  Mom took reel after reel of Super 8 movies, but, unfortunately, she moved the camera so fast, that we became car sick reviewing it.  Add to that her penchant for
cutting heads off in the process and you get the picture...not much quality footage, but an awful lot to laugh about! 
Mom and I in the
90's...she lived almost to 100!

        One year we took the Santa Fe railroad from Chicago to California, where we had visited neighbors who had moved west a few years before.  I vaguely remembered our trip, but did enjoy the challenge of walking from train to train, across the gap between the cars.  Here, too, Mom filmed the rolling countryside with her movie camera, scanning the scene instead of holding the camera steady.  What resulted was enough to make one cross-eyed!

       What adventures we had!  Now I continue the tradition with my family.  This blog post is a tribute to the wonderful trips we have taken together.

What family vacations are memorable to you?  Do you have a "dream vacation" yet to plan?

       
           Be sure to visit Jarm Del Boccio at her blog Making the Write Connection.

          For those of you who enjoy reading and writing memoir, be sure to visit my blog Wrote By Rote.  On that space I share some of my own memories as well as those of my many guests.   There is also much helpful advice about writing memoir and getting published.   I welcome and strongly encourage guest posts on that site and I hope to hear from you.
     



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21 comments:

  1. I love this post so much. The writing is personal and warm and I love the story so much.

    Best of luck on the journey home too Lee, here's hoping that you have a whole lot of interesting stories to recount to us when you're ready. The guest series has been an awesome and great idea too, it's allowed me to discover so many talented writers like Jarm.

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  2. Such exciting memories. Your mom was quite the adventurer. Do you follow in her footsteps?

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  3. I think every family made a road trip to Yellowstone. I wonder if Stuckey's is still around?

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  4. There are the makings of a book in this post - and you have a market ready-made in afficionadoes of old vehicles. What wonderful memories you have of your mother.My daughter-in-law is Slovakian and is on holiday there at the moment with her parents - her photos are breathtaking.

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  5. We use to take two week driving trips during the summer. I loved the one to the Grand Canyon and Redwood Forest. Hubby and I are hoping to take the kiddos soon.
    100, wow. That is awesome. Sounds like you have some great memories.

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  6. Fun adventures. My parents hauled 6 kids across country more than once. One of my favorites was standing on a cliff overlooking the Snake River. There was another older couple there as well and the husband freaked me out by leaning over the cliff and into the wind. I thought for sure he was going to fall all the way down to the rocks and river. The wind was blowing upward so strong that I don't think it would have been easy to go over the edge. Not that I wanted to find out.

    I look at the gypsy wandering with fondness, now. I learned so much and saw so much.

    Enjoyed your tale!

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  7. What a wonderful post. It made me think of my own childhood, even though we didn't travel all that much. I do remember trips with my father and a quite long one, from Georgia to Texas, with my mother.

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  8. i sometimes see movies when i read people's stories of their lives--so it was with this wonderful post--what an amazing mother you had and to be so fearless--my dream---oh and how i miss those stuckey's--with a short u i think :)

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  9. Jarm - I love this post of adventure, and crazy pictures, and laughter and family. It reminds me of car trips taken when I was young, although with my dad working for an airlines we did a number of flying trips as well. There is nothing that can replace the rolling countryside outside the window of a car for spurring on the imagination.

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  10. Sweet and charming story. I really loved the pictures of the family. How fortunate she was to have such a wonderful mom and for all those years.

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  11. Thanks everyone, for your encouraging comments! Yes, I have inherited the "Travel Bug"! My Mom was indeed fearless...in more ways than one. I consider our travels a blessing as I look back on them.
    Many of my present family's adventures are posted on my "Making the Write Connections" blog (link is above in the post), if anyone is interested in present day adventures...
    I've been thinking of compiling my childhood stories into a book, but I can't think of a unifying theme. Cars are just one aspect of the adventures!

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  12. So, another Slovakian, eh, Lizy? I didn't think there were many of us around. I am truly Czechoslovakian. My father was born in the Czech Republic, and my Mom's parents where born near Bratislava, Slovakia.

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  14. It will be a great tradition to institute with your kids, Ciara.
    Sia, you make me dizzy just thinking about the elderly gentleman who nearly fell into the canyon. Yikes...I'm afraid of heights!
    I'm glad you have a few travel memories, Helen. And thanks for the heads up. Now I will know "Stuckey's" is pronounced with a short "U".
    Alex, I have seen a few in my travels, but, the pecan goodies and souvenir shops are gone...sad!

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  15. Oops...thanks Lynn for clarifying the pronunciation of "Stuckeys"
    You are right about the car trips, Tyrean...more scope for the imagination, as Anne of Green Gables would have said!
    I'm happy you enjoyed the stories and photos, Cleemckenzie. Not all folks have the privilege of having their Mom with them for almost 100 years!

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  16. We took family vacations when I was a kid, but I can't come close to yours. Nice to meet you :)

    Waves to Arlee!

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  17. Good to meet you, Carol. It's being together as a family that matters...the location is secondary. Although, traveling to another country does create some unique memories!

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  18. What beautiful memories, Arlee. Thanks for sharing them. Like you, I have so many vacation recollections—they are a priority in my life. One of my favorites is building sandcastles on the Delaware shore with my my young sons. My dream vacation is going to Greece where my grandparents were born.

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  19. Thanks, Peggy! Your sons will remember the times you have spent building sandcastles for years to come. And, I hope you will realize your dream to travel to Greece. It would be a cultural, as well as generational adventure!

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  20. Wow! This brings back a lot of memories (showing my age). Really enjoyed this.
    http://l-immortalite-madame-lalaurie-and-the-voodoo-queen.com/Home.html

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  21. So glad it brought back some good memories, T.R.! Thanks for stopping by...

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