Sunday, July 5, 2009

Catching the Travel Bug

We probably spent more summers at home than we did trekking in the brown station wagon. While the summers at home may sound boring to me as an adult, as kids we were very busy. This was back in the days before any decent video games and cable TV (I was born in 1964) so we spent most of our time outside. In our Massapequa backyard we had our little plastic pool and a swing set. There were a lot of kids on the street who were also out and about all day. Our parents only needed a general idea where we were because they knew if we were down the street, another parent was watching out for us. We had to come in for lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. After dinner, we could stay outside until the street lights came on.

In the pool, me at left and sister Judy
Standing l to r: family friend Hallie, me, Judy

When we were a little older, we had a family membership at Marjorie R. Post Community Park. We just called it "the pool". Mom would either drop us off or she would come also and spend the day playing mahjong with her friends. I even learned to play at one point. We were pretty much on our own until we needed money for lunch and then an afternoon snack. "The pool" is where we all had our swimming lessons. I remember one time my dad, my sisters, and I rode our bikes the 5 miles or so the "the pool" to play handball. My hands were so sore. The ride back was not fun. I think we were members through most of my high school years.

We travelled too, usually by car in our brown station wagon. The second seat was a split fold 2/3 and 1/3 across and there was a third seat too. All seats would fold down flat and we had blankets and pillows to sleep while my parents sat up front. My parents tried to come up with games to keep our minds occupied but we were more interested in fighting with each other. I think youngest sister Laura always got stuck in the middle to put a little distance between Judy and me. I don't know which trips took place in which years but here are the ones I remember:

  • Florida - I remember the Everglades more than anything else...not sure why.
  • Washington DC - visited the major sights of course.
  • Hershey PA - back in the days when you could tour the actual Hershey factory vs the simulated ride they have now.
  • Philadelphia - at the Franklin Institute, my sister Judy went up to that static electricity ball but her hair wouldn't stand on end.
  • Colonial Williamsburg - I was interested in history even back then so this was a lot of fun.
  • Howe Caverns - I remember the caverns but I also remember that we found a hotel on a hillside that had a bowling alley attached. As bowlers, we thought this was really cool.
  • Niagara Falls - amazing. I also remember the wax museum and we thought it was cool that you could cross from the US to Canada and back right in the middle of a bridge and that the border guards knew my dad was telling the truth about being from NY simply by his accent.
  • Puerto Rico - pictures below. I remember my dad got us really lost trying to drive down into Old San Juan and when we walked up the street to a restaurant, my sister was wearing really short shorts and all of the men driving by were hanging out of their cars whistling at her.

Sisters Judy & Laura with me (at right). I'm guessing this was 1979 or 1980. Judy and Laura would kill me if they knew I posted this but what they don't know won't hurt them.

Dad relaxing with a newspaper

It's funny the things I remember, or don't remember. My sisters and I fought a lot so I don't know how relaxing these trips were for my parents. Overall we had fun though. Some of the memories are blurred by my trips to these places as an adult. I'd like to go to Howe Caverns and Niagara Falls again now that I can appreciate them more.

My sisters haven't travelled much so my 4 nieces (2 per sister) haven't really been more than a couple of hours from home. I've already told the girls that when they graduate from high school, their gift from me will be a trip. The first one is in 2010 and I think that one will be Italy. Number two is the following year and I think that will be London. Not sure what 2012 will be and then I have a five year break before the youngest graduates. I caught the travel bug at a young it's time for me to share the desire to see different places.


Apple said...

Your memories are very similar to mine, except we didn't travel all that far from home. I never saw Niagara Falls until I was adult, even though it was only a three hour drive. I have been to Howe's Caverns many times. I've yet to visit the Everglades or other places on your list.

"Be home when the street lights come on" - was that universal in the 60's? And station wagons with no seat belts and pillows and blankets. How did we ever reach adulthood!

Bill West said...

Hi Sharon,
Our family trips soumd a lot like yours although the destination was
always "uphome" to Main to visit my Dad's family when I was younger.

It wasn't until I was in my 20's that we all took family trips to places like DC and Jamestown.

BTW, the "streetlight" rule applied in Boston as well.