In search of story

Disconnections: June 6.18


Summer afflicts me with memories.

Like family vacation. A surfeit of togetherness. Dad’s mother, our beloved Grandma O’Hern, sat between my brother and me in the back seat. Poor Grandma. My brother loved confinement as much as I did and we were not anyone’s first choice of traveling companions.

Our expeditions almost always started with a new comic book, a thing of beauty and a joy for…well…five minutes. After that the only thing it was good for was rolling into a tube and clobbering someone. (But that was only because he clobbered me first.)

There were, of course, no such things as seat belts. We could kneel in the back seat and look out the back window, trying to see if where we’d been were any more interesting than where we were. Nope.

Rolling the windows down (aka air conditioning) had nothing to do with pushing a button and everything to do with grabbing a knob and turning for dear life. Reverse to roll back up. A life skill we’d already acquired. Boring.

The view from the back seat had greatly to do with the back of my mom’s head and the back of my dad’s head. And sameness out the windows. Devoutly did we pray for Burma Shave signs, when there would be respite from sameness. At the end we’d all shout out “Burma Shave!” and then I’d lapse back into a comatose state of childhood on hold.

There were “guessing games,” of course. And singing. And coloring books. For some reason, though, my parents got touchy about melted crayons under the seat. Was it our fault the summer sun was hot?

The years distort, I know, but I’m fairly sure that’s my dad’s voice asking “Are we there yet?”




8 thoughts on “Disconnections: June 6.18

  1. Ah yes, memories… but at least with your grandmother to separate you and your brother, you didn’t have an imaginary line drawn up the middle that you could slyly extend the tip of your finger across to torment the other, causing a wail of, “Mommy, Judy’s on my side!”

    • You don’t think there was an imaginary line down the middle of my grandmother? You know, of course, that it is absolutely impossible to think of you doing any such thing as sneaking across that line. I wonder if your parents rolled their eyes the same way mine did.

  2. You’ve now introduced me to ‘The hero was brave / and strong and willin’ / she felt his chin / then wed the villain’. We used to catch the train on holidays in North Wales. My sister and I wanted to eat our packed lunch the moment we got on the train and spent the whole journey asking ‘Are we nearly there yet?’. But I seem to see the melted crayons with adult’s eyes. It would not be ideal even if the children were blameless.

    • Now you know American Literature at its best. Well, not counting bumper stickers. It’s too bad you didn’t have such high-tone reading on the train. I’d have to agree about the crayons, but you know we were ALWAYS blameless. Well, at least I was.

  3. Oh, my goodness, but you do know how to hit home with me. 🙂 I didn’t have any siblings to torment, but did travel with a comic book and always wondered to myself – how much farther. One thing about all those manual windows was they hardly broke down plus they stopped right where you wanted. There was no up, down, up down, to get it in the right spot. 🙂

    • Thank you for the laugh! You are so right about that up-down! Anybody could get the window to move, but it took real finesse to get it to stop where you wanted it! If you got it down too much, you’d blow those comic books to kingdom come!

  4. You describe a time that is still fresh for many of us of a certain age. Yes! A new comic book that lasted 5 minutes. My particular memory is of sporadically playing Travel Bingo and the eager anticipation of my mother passing sandwiches over her shoulder to the bored, starved kids in the back seat.
    I also have fond memories of the smell of gasoline and gas stations. Someone told me that it isn’t the same gas they used to sell decades ago. Really?

    • Wow, thanks, Shirah! I’d forgotten about that gasoline smell — I thought it was great — so thanks for reminding me of what it used to be like to stop at a gas station! I’d have to guess that it’s true about the gas; by the time they’ve taken things out and put things in, it can’t be the same fuel we bought years ago. I’m so pleased you remember with me about cars and comic books. Having sandwiches passed back to you would have been a real bonus!

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