Sunday, April 12, 2009

Travelin' with The Family

So the Big Guy and I are watching some clips from the New York Auto Show this am. They're showing a new Honda Element(?). This van caters to dog-lovers. Only in America, folks. I guess it's no more self-indulgent than the Harley-Davidson edition Ford Truck. Now, don't get me wrong. All you Harley lovers can rest easy; I think the Harley Ford is very cool-looking. And, of course, I love me some dogs. It's just a trifle decadent to have one's mode of transportation so personalized. Anyway, back to the doggie Element: the seat covers are washable, the floor mats are stamped with little dog biscuits, it has a pull-down ramp for Precious to disembark and a large carrier with water bowl and fan to keep several dogs comfortable under the ac as they travel in the back. It also has a dog carrier attached to the passenger seat behind the front seats. Just like a baby seat.

Contrast this with the way my parents transported their kids on the family vacation in the 50 and 60s.

We took two vacations each year. Every spring we would travel to the Hill Country of Texas to Buchanan Lake. This is a large lake (for Texas) at the northernmost point of a chain of five lakes in Central Texas. The Hill Country is beautiful any time of year; but, especially in the spring when the hills are covered in bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. We stayed in a little cabin along with many spiders. I was scared silly; but the parents just told me I was being a baby. Daddy would go out on the lake about 4 am to fish, and maybe one or two of my brothers would accompany him. There was also a dock that Daddy and I would fish from later in the morning when he came back. We never caught anything at that time of day, but it was good father-daughter time. This annual outing would occur around Easter when everybody had Good Friday and the Monday after Easter off from school/work.

Each summer we drove to Illinois to see my maternal grandmother. That was a one-week, 1,000-mile journey from West Texas to Southern Illinois. Grandma owned a farm which produced hogs to send to market, and corn to feed the hogs. This trip was always taken in June as soon as we kids were out of school and at the beginning of the stifling Illinois summer with the heat, humidity and chiggers. God, I remember those chigger bites -- they lasted until well after we returned home to dry West Texas.

Back when we traveled, there was no Honda Element in which to traverse the miles. Hell, there was no such thing as a Honda or Nissan in the late 50s in the US. Some owned station wagons; however, Daddy worked in the oil field and he drove a big-ass Chevrolet or Pontiac. Always GM, Daddy would kiss a black man before buying a Ford -- and he was a racist homophobic just like any good West Texas man in the 50s (except the black men and the homosexuals). Now these cars were larger than many apartments in NYC or San Fran. My mom and dad, me and three brothers could easily fit in this vehicle. Me and my two older brothers in the back seat, Daddy drove and Mama and my baby bro in the front seat. Trust me, plenty of room. Not enough for siblings, you understand ("Stop touching me!"), but plenty.

These cars were heavy. As in, lots of metal. Major metal. 50's metal. Not this lightweight, namby-pamby shit we drive in today, no sir! These cars weighed almost two tons. Metal dash, hard plastic steering wheel and no seat belts. No air conditioning. Daddy was smoking Winstons all the way. Of course, he opened the tiny little triangular side vent they used to have on the driver & passenger windows, so the smoke was vented out. Somewhat. No baby seat; the baby just rode in Mama's arms or swaddled on the seat between them. Daddy drove like a maniac, pedal to the metal all the way. Had to make time.

Praise the Lord, not one accident in all those years.

Oh, yeah...we always took the family dog.

Good times.


  1. These are wonderful memories to cherish.

    I'm all for bringing back the oldies. Here's a pic and detail on my project car '63 Mercury Meteor Custom Hardtop 1/4500 produced. Look here: Gerard has completely rebuilt dash component and engine, it has a 302 and runs like new, AM push button radio with free static, heat and a/c if you roll down the windows and car is fast and heavy, as in heavy metal. Just needs new interior and exterior paint. I love these old cars. The next project in queue is '70 Torino Cobra Jet.

  2. OMG, I can't believe you're a gearhead, too! You have so many facets, girl, you are a wonder. Steve is a mechanic from way back, and in his day rebuilt many cars. We'll check out your site.


Please let me know your thoughts - no matter what they are. This is a Bully-Free Zone.