Taking a trip of any kind when we were growing up was a bit of a relative thing. It depended on how close the relative lived. If we could get over there and back in a day, we were more apt to go. If it involved someone feeding your chickens or looking after a milk cow, you could forget about it.
No one took a vacation back then. We went to visit Aunt Beatrice or Uncle Hugh. Thanksgiving we would go to Pa and Grand’s with everyone else in the family. The rest of the time we hung pretty close to the house. I can’t for the life of me understand why today. We weren’t doing all that much mind you, but we were close by in case something broke out!
Bobby Brewer and I joined the Cub Scouts because they marched in the Strawberry Festival down at Humboldt. That was thirty-four miles away and you talk about a road trip! The school loaned us a bus and the whole troop rode down together. I carried the Troop 78 flag one year. You’ve never seen so many people in your life. ’Course, I didn’t see much of the crowd, any of the downtown area, precious few of the big houses along the route and I didn’t cap open one strawberry, I was too busy struggling to keep step with the Cubbies on either side and the flag in the air at the same time.
Buddy Wiggleton and I went out for junior high basketball when Coach Scott told us he’d scheduled games at West Port, Lavinia and Clarksburg. We did an inordinate amount of running that winter in order to make a limited number of road trips. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure Lavinia was worth it. It was dark, cold and rainy when we pulled in. We dressed on the bus, blew an eleven point lead late, crawled back on the bus and bee lined out of there without actually seeing much of anything except the incredible tiny gym.
We went to church camp one summer up at Camp Linden on the Buffalo River. It was neat. We built a fort and went rafting and swimming. The counselors set around after supper asking us what we normally did if we were back in our hometowns. Three out of four guys answered, “We’d be building forts, rafting and swimming.”
I dreamed of going to Del Rio, Texas, Tombstone, Arizona or Hollywood. I just knew I would run into Tex Ritter or at the very least, one of the Sons of the Pioneers. The Grand Canyon would have been a treat; as would any number of alligator farms stretched out along the Florida-Georgia line. I would have settled for Top Ten Dance Party in Jackson, Tennessee, for goodness sakes! I just wanted to take a road trip. None of us had ever flown in an airplane, spent anytime away from our parents or stayed in an actual hotel.
We felt like the world was passing us by. Chattanooga had the Look-Outs but that was no way close to any of our grandparents. Elvis was tearin’em up in Memphis. But that might have well been the moon for all the good it did us. We talked big….but the truth is we really went nowhere. Fast!
I was in college on the team flight when I made my first airplane ride. It was Piedmont Airlines out of Chattanooga. You might say I killed two birds that day with one ticket. It was an old World War II DC-3 to the best of my remembrance. I was pedaling so hard that I don’t remember Chattanooga at all!
Cathy and I have been married for thirty-eight years. We have been planning to take a real trip for most of those years. But somehow, in spite of all the good intentions, we sometimes fall victim to our own circumstances. If we had a couple of days off, we immediately took the boys home to share them with grand parents. It was cheaper there is no denying that. But I think there was more going on than money here, it was what we knew to do. You talk about carrying on an old family tradition! The boys voted for Disneyworld, the Atlanta Braves and Star Wars conventions. In the best interest of family, I overruled them.
The boys are grown. They get to make their own vacation plans. We have become the existing grandparents. I was not surprised when Cathy began talking about vacations. I figured it was time for me to man up here. She hadn’t been to the Grand Ole Opry since 1968; I was thinking maybe a Country Music Hall of Fame package deal. We could take that Home of the Stars tour past Little Jimmy Dickens’ house. I was figuring the odds of maybe catching Gene Watson at the Bluebird Café.
“Honey,” she didn’t seem to hear one word I was saying about the Opry Star Spotlight and Music City Tours, “Let’s go to England.”
“ENGLAND?” My teeth hit the floor. Surely, she’s not talking about the land of Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, 221b Baker Street and Ringo Star. “We can’t see Tex Ritter in England!”
She was booking airlines! “Cathy, let’s compromise with a visit to an alligator farm. Have you seen the antique stores in Brundidge, Alabama? I’ll show you where I played basketball in Lavinia…...”