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Tag Archive: nostalgia

Jul 24

Remembering summers past, a series Summer’s end brought road trips and slide shows

“See the USA in your Chevrolet. America is asking you to call.”
—recorded by Dinah Shore in 1950. Lyrics and music by Corday and Carr.

August was vacation month for those who grew up in the 1950s and 60s.

When July ended, it was time to pack as much as one could into the station wagon, whatever the make (ours was a DeSoto), and take a road trip.

The clock was ticking because the lazy, carefree summer now had an end in sight. School would start in mere weeks.

Looking back, I have to wonder who was left to “mind the store” since it seemed as though everyone was on vacation in August.

And oh my, the things we took on vacation.

A neighbor once reminded us as we prepared for a trip, “Those who say you can’t take it with you never saw your car packed for a vacation trip.”

For example, the shoebox.

All our shoes were tossed into a large cardboard box and put in the back of the wagon next to the smaller box of Spam and white bread, a necessity for roadside lunch stops.

Once we made it all the way from northwest Missouri to Falls City, Nebraska, before we realized that our shoebox was still at home. We turned and went back for it.

I also remember spending entire road trips playing in the back of our green DeSota station wagon, sans seat belts of course. We had not heard of those yet.

One cross-country trip in our “woody” station wagon included a full load of travelers–parents, we three siblings, our grandmother and aunt. The trip was quite similar to the movie “Vacation” although no one died en route. And that is all I will say about that.

When seeing “sights”, self-respecting travelers took pictures, typically in the form of slides. Lots of slides.

If one were up-to-date like our dad, one would have a screen and a fancy projector with slide boxes so that the slides could be fed in quickly one after the other. The only problem was that most folks had boxes and boxes of slides.

It was expected that one would call friends and family together after the trip and show slides. Everyone did this. We watched each other’s slide shows and no one complained.

Can you imagine how boring we would find that today?

The vacation slides often depicted posed shots by historical roadside markers. Trust me, there were hundreds of them between Missouri and the Pacific Ocean.

Some slides featured well-known landscape scenes located in national parks, and others focused on visits with relatives. Nothing creative, just expected and predictable photos.

We didn’t care.

We watched and watched; never tiring of them, and then ate cake and ice cream afterwards.

I once heard someone describe a vacation and its subsequent slide show as just like love. We anticipate it with pleasure, experience it with discomfort, and remember it with nostalgia.

And that we did quite happily.