My First Big Road Trip

We’ve all been to wonderful places that bring memories flooding back to us. Places of awesome beauty, like the Canadian Rockies. Places of great excitement like the Grand Ole Opry. Even a quiet spot under a tree at Grandma’s house. Here’s one of the places I remember from my own past.

The first vacation trip I remember was in 1950. I was seven years old, and my sister Barb was nine. Dad and Mother and the two of us took off in our 1949 Rocket Oldsmobile, leaving my three year-old sister Kay and one-year old brother Bill with my mother’s mother. Don’t know whether she was brave or foolish to volunteer for such treatment.

We left Fort Worth in the afternoon and spent the first night in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. It was getting dark by the time we crossed the state line, and as we drove along I happened to glance out the car window and see a cat walking on the side of the road that looked exactly like ours. Well, Dad’s and Barb’s and Kay’s. I had nothing to do with furry felines.

Strange coincidence? Of course—no way the cat could have left after we did and beat us to Arkansas. Funny thing, though—when we got back home, the cat was gone. Never returned.

Part of the point of the trip was to visit families of three of Dad’s fellow doctors he’d met during the war. The first was Dr. Bill Knapp and family in Zanesville, Ohio. About all I remember about that is that his office was on the first floor of his house, an arrangement I’d never seen or heard of before, and that he drove an MG with the driver’s side on the right. He explained that it was a British car and that was the way they drove, but it seemed bizarre to me.

We visited Dr. Al Rekate and his wife Beth and daughter Suzy in East Aurora, New York—right outside of Buffalo. They lived on some rural acreage and grew their own fruit and vegetables, which I thought was cool.

The highlight of the whole trip was all going to Niagara Falls together. Growing up in Texas, I had no idea there was that much water in the whole world. The volume of the water just amazed me, along with the mist rising from the river below. When someone told me people had gone over the falls in barrels and lived through the experience, I couldn’t believe it.

We hung around until dark and went to eat dinner in the Rainbow Room of the General Brock Hotel. From our window table we were able to watch the falls as colored lights played on them. I guess seven year-old kids are easily impressed, but that really seemed like a big deal to me.

After legging up to North Bay, Ontario, we re-entered the States at Sault Ste Marie, stopping to admire the locks. Maybe it’s not seven year-olds. Maybe it’s just me, because I’ve been back in recent years and still found the locks impressive.

Our last army-buddy stop was in Marshfield, Wisconsin, to visit Dr. Jack Mallord and his family. Sorry, but I don’t remember anything in particular about this stop, but I do have a fleeting memory of his hovering over me along with my dad as an ambulance rushed me from Gladewater, Texas, where we lived at the time, to Dallas when I came down with encephalitis at age two..

Don’t remember much about the trip home from there. I know we saw the state capitol at St Paul, Minnesota, and probably some other capitols, too. That seems to be de rigeur for any trip.

Memories of places we went over sixty years ago fascinate me. I hope you found them interesting, too.

Ø What’s the first vacation you remember anything about?

Ø Have you remembered to build memories for your kids by taking them on fun trips?

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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3 Responses to My First Big Road Trip

  1. I liked reading this remembrance. Rainbow, my kitty, did return briefly after we got home but didn’t stay long. I think Kay and Jan drove her crazy dressing her in doll clothes. Poor kitty!

    Thanks for the memories.

    Barb

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  2. Another fine blog. Ah, such interesting memories. Amazing you can remember such detail, as I know I can’t. Much love, Wife

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