Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Vacations at Gulf Shores


Polk Summer Vacations
Good evening. Hope ya'll have had a good day even though if you live in the South, you were hot. Another day I have stayed in the house to stay cool and drank lots of cold coke and tea. It has been a lazy day for me – haven't accomplished a whole lot. But that's alright, for at my age I have earned the right to be lazy if I want to.
Not sure why, but I thought about our childhood summer vacations today. Now some of our friends would go to Gulf Shores, AL, some to Panama City, FL, some to the mountains and you get the picture. Until I was a teenager, our summer vacations were to Mississippi to visit our grandparents. This was a given since it was free except for gas money and daddy always went to help granddaddy on the farm.
About this time of the summer or a little later, after mama had canned and frozen most everything in the garden, we would begin our preparation for the trip to Mississippi. It would be for a week and we would leave on Friday afternoon when daddy got home from work most of the time. Mama would have everything packed; daddy would load the car and off the 5 of us would go. Sometimes we would wait until Saturday morning or daddy would take Friday off and we would travel during the day but not often.
I now think we traveled at night so the 3 of us children would sleep most of the way and not bother daddy while he drove. Anyway, it took a lot of preparation for us to get ready. Mama would sew for weeks making us new shorts, shirts, halters, and sun suits. She and I would always have new dresses to wear to church to impress all the kinfolks and show them how well we were doing. Not sure why this mattered, but it was a big deal to mama and grandmamma. She would also cook cakes, cookies, carry fresh everything from the garden and gifts for the grandparents. That car would be loaded to the roof with all the stuff we needed, or mama thought we needed.
Now daddy's idea of taking a trip was to go from point A to point B with no detours, no food stops, and no restroom stops unless you were bursting or he needed to go. Because we were traveling most of the way through the country, there were not many places to stop so we had to be inventive. With daddy and the boys, restroom stops were no big deal for any tree by the side of the road would be sufficient, but mama and I, being ladies, were a bit handicapped. We had to have a restroom with toilet paper unless it was impossibility. We have made do behind a BIG tree with tissue but it was not our druthers, as mama would say. We would hold it until our eyeballs were floating and we came to a service station. As I said, these were few and far between so our eyeballs floated a lot.
The food was no big deal. Mama had taken care of that before we left home by packing tomato sandwiches, homemade cookies or slices of cake, fruit and iced tea in a thermos. Daddy would stop and get us cold drinks as a special treat. Sometimes we would stop and picnic by the side of the road, but most of the time we ate as we went merrily down the road to grandmother's house. We always had plenty of food for mama was the best cook in the world and made sure there was always something to eat as we traveled. There were no rest stops but we could always find a little store along the way or a nice place by the side of the road to picnic, but remember, daddy was always in a hurry to get there so it would be a "brief" stop.
If we traveled at night, it was better for it would be cooler. In the "olden days" we didn't have air conditioned cars except to roll the windows down. I do mean "roll" for you had a handle with a knob which you hand-rolled down the glass in the window. Automatic anything had not been invented. You rolled down all the windows, let your hair blow and tried to stay cool. We would lay a quilt down in the floor in the back and one of us would sleep there. One would sleep on the seat, and the "littlest" one would crawl up behind the back seat under the back windshield and sleep. Remember, seat belts had not been invented except for the arm mama would fling across your chest if you stopped suddenly.
Now this was not accomplished without much fussing and arguing about who got what spot, but eventually we would wear ourselves out arguing or daddy would quietly say, "Do I have to take my belt off?" Now we knew that meant the car would be stopped, the belt came off and we 3 got a spanking along with a sermon from mama about our behavior. There was none of this counting to three, telling us multiple times stop, time out or time in, just that quiet voice asking if the belt needed to come off. Needless to say we settled that argument quickly and quietly.
It took us hours and hours and hours plus some more hours to get to Bassfield and then another hour or so to get to granddaddy Sam's house. Not really, but as children is seemed that long. We would ask the proverbial question, "How much longer?" many times and daddy's standard answer was, "Bout that long" as he measured about an inch with his finger. We would sigh and say, "Aw daddy, how much longer, really?" and we would get the same answer as he looked at mama and grinned. They seemed to get a big kick out of teasing us children, but that's OK for they loved us and we knew it.
Now daddy had one bad habit on trips which would drive us crazy. He only smoked cigars when we traveled and they would be BIG cigars. After we pulled out of our driveway and got on the way to Mississippi, he would pull that big cigar out of his shirt pocket, bite of the end, spit it out the window and light up. Now you talking about smelly, that thing took the cake. He would puff on that thing and smell up the whole car even with the windows down. I can't remember what brand they were, but knowing my daddy's thriftiness, they weren't the expensive kind. When he finished with one, he would get another one. Not sure why he did this on trips but years later, he apologized to us for smoking those things. We would arrive at our grandparents stinking like a cheap cigar every time. They didn't care, but I can remember not liking it one little bit.
I didn't realize I had so many memories about these trips so I will just have to make a series of vacation tales. There are other tales about swimming in the creek, fishing in the ponds, playing and many other exciting adventures so I will write about these later.
Needless to say, these trips to our grandparents are treasured memories that we take out, talk about and remember with fondness and I hope you have some of same, sweet memories.
Nuff said,
The Georgia Peach
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