Memories and Plans For a Season of Travel
…so sweet, I loved it. Thanks
And those trips to the "city" with the two lanes going each way and the neon lights..
Your piece stayed with me for days. Really, really evocative of past times and the eternal upper Texas Gulf Coast. I saw your boyhood home once, now on the grounds of the Wharton County, Texas museum. So your piece had some extra resonance for this former Texan. You need a writing award! Summer 2023 plans: with my recent retirement, we have planned the month of August in a small cottage on the coast of northern California. We are planning a quiet time reading, cooking, and pondering the sea and the clouds.
Thanks to our 34th President of The United States Dwight David Eisenhower for getting interstate expressways constructed coast to coast during the 1950's which enabled people to drive at least 100 miles before having to stop for a break. With the highway system prior to the interstate expressways people had to always stop for traffic lights on their way to final destinations which could make long distance trips take much longer.
Thank for that poignant memory, Mr. Rather. In my hometown of San Francisco, living a short six blocks from the Pacific, July 4th was much different. Thick blankets of fog usually limited our fireworks to a few sparklers.
Wind and cold accompanied any outdoor celebrations of our country's birth but dampened no spirits in our Sunset neighborhood, built on sand dunes in our beloved "City of Hills," precariously holding tight to the edge of the continent. Happy Summer, everyone. Ours runs September, October and November.
I did read this before and loved it, and I still do. I could identify so much, we had a 1939/39 car and I still remember how those seats rubbed sunburned legs, and how crowded my 2 sisters and I felt in the back seat, especially if we were staying at the beach overnight, my father would have gone to a spring and filled huge bottles with "good" water, and those bottles rode in the back with us. We lived on the Atlantic Coast, and our chosen beaches were in southern Delaware, but we also always sang in the car and I still remember the words to many of those songs, which were the songs are parents liked. And, I do remember during WWII, when we couldn't really get away for long due to my father's 7 days/week job, my mother persauded him one time to drive us to the beach "for the day". We left in the middle of the night, riding hours to the State park at the beach, then slept in the car until morning. Mom had packed food for breakfast and, after we ate, we kids played on the beach all day. As it began to get dark, we were called to load up the car for the long drive home as Dad had to work the next day. I never thought about how tired he must have been, or the sacrifice he made to please my Mom and us kids, but I also never forgot that day so long ago. You brought back a special memory for me. Dan Rather, and I thank you for that.
May 24, 2023
Boy, Dan, did your article bring back those memories of Galveston Island where I was born and raised. We never owned a car because it was so easy to get around the Island—we’d either walk or catch a bus. The walk to the beach from our family home on 40th Street was easy in the late 1950s. We didn’t have the restrictions children today have. Our friends and I would take a leisurely stroll to the beach and mostly lay around on the sand getting burnt. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico concealed dark secrets below with its swirling sand-laden mishmash—seaweed the predominate haunter, although I did have my share of jellyfish stings. The farthest place our family traveled was to Texas City by bus to visit aunts and uncles. A few times, a relative would drive us to Alta Loma, a special memory because of Aunt Eloisa’s ranch, and the recreation there for my brother John and I was to chase the cows and chickens. Aunt Eloisa would later say that “the cows wouldn’t give milk and the chickens wouldn’t lay eggs after those rascals came to visit.” I remember my first trip to Houston in 1963, Aunt Sophie’s death, a sad affair following the loss of my dad the previous year. But during the summer of 1968, the Fourth of July fireworks on Galveston’s pier stands out. I was attending college in San Antonio and had invited a boyfriend to Galveston around the fourth to witness our spectacular display of fireworks. Having this boyfriend visit was a huge affair with me coming from a Mexican American family and all its particularities, notwithstanding that he was Anglo. Fourth of July was on a Thursday that year. He’d travel from San Antonio for the long holiday weekend and share the bedroom upstairs with my brother John. He owned a car to take Mom, John, and me on the short ride to the pier. I was very excited that Mom had not only agreed to this arrangement but by joining us on this excursion displayed her approval. It never occurred to me that she was keeping her eye out on this Gringo dating her daughter in a city too far away for her to monitor. However, it was a joyful occasion for the stars aligned perfectly for me and my boyfriend to experience the spell of Galveston Island. The time drew near. The sunset blinked and the first display shot into the air. The crowd that had gathered on the boulevard was dazzled by the burst of colors the size of a giant air balloon. Then, there was an explosion, and coming from the pier’s end were fizzling sounds with sparks reaching for escape, but too weak to erupt. The display concluded after five minutes—it was over. We didn’t linger and went home. That night, we tuned in to watch Dan Rather on the Houston channel of CBS news.
Such a sweet story and beautiful writing!
Oh my gosh, you can really take an awful day and turn it right around. I am tearing at the precious memories of old cars and unaffordable road-trips (all day on a two-lane blacktop) to my dad’s gold rush boom hometown with four kids under four etc. A particularly fond memory I have of the old black car with the divided windshield and visor was the trouble my brother and I got in for “decorating” the cloth ceiling by burning a beautiful work of art using the cigarette lighter to burn a lovely design that we felt sure our parents would be so proud of. Thank you so much for steadying me!
Thank you, Dan, for the lovely trip back in time. I could see it in my mind's eye as you described it. Many of us older folks can identify with those times. Thank you again.
Thank you, Dan for the lovely trip back in time. I can see in my mind's eye as you describe it. Many of us older folks can see and hear themselves back then. Thank you again.
Thanks for the memory boost: Family vacations at a farm in Michigan that my grandmother owned, cared for by Jack Flannigan. It had no electricity and no running water. The outhouse was my nemesis! Why did we go? Because it was fun. To this day the smell of oil lamps takes me back to those magical trips. I guess today if you took kids to a place like that, someone would call CPS!!
What a beautiful memory. The best times and things in life are simply loving the journey and our heart.
Beautiful story, Dan. It prompted my memories of road trips when I was growing up. My dad was a farmer/rancher in north eastern Kansas. We had little money but lots of love. We most often packed up the trailer and the seven of us, plus our faithful dog, and drove to the mountains in Colorado! I didn’t realize how lucky I was as we headed west, stopping at every historical marker and standing for the compulsory photo! Those were wonderful times!
I am a first grade teacher. Luckily also quite creative with words and whimsical art. One thing I teach my kids is that our memories are not of that whole trip to Disney Land. They are about moments. Like your memory of singing. Or the sea wall. The fireworks. And of course sleeping in the car! The in between moments all run together as a good time. I call the best memories “cupcake moments” and sometimes “cupcake moments with sprinkles”!! Your story is full of “sprinkles”!! Wonderful. Thank you for you. 💖