Our Tuesday Fox asked, “What is your fondest childhood memory?”
I’ve always loved to travel and see new places. I think that enjoyment began when I was young. My family didn’t travel much – I think Dad enjoyed it more than Mom did, because Mom likes to have things done just so, and one can’t always have them like that when you’re on the road with three young kids. But one awesome summer, when I was around ten or eleven, Dad talked Mom into going on the road to Washington DC. We spent several days visiting Dad’s good Army buddy, who lived in Arlington. In the years after the Korean War, this friend had stayed in the army and worked his way up to the rank of colonel, and he worked at the Pentagon.
I was excited about the trip, but became even more thrilled when I learned that on the way from Michigan to DC Dad planned a stop at Gettysburg and Mammoth Caves National Park and on the way home we would visit Niagara Falls. We’d be gone for almost two weeks. My brothers had never been out of our state, and other than my journey TO Michigan when I was a year old, I hadn’t either.
The battlefield at Gettysburg was a moving experience, and I still remember much of it to this day. I also enjoyed the tour through Mammoth Caves, and all the sites at our nation’s capital. Niagara Falls was impressive, but I got more enjoyment from visiting the museum at the site. My younger brothers, then aged nine and five, probably didn’t get as much out of the trip as I did. I’d always enjoyed learning about American history, and I think that stemmed from these visits.
Since this trip took place about 55 years ago, I don’t remember a lot of details about the trip itself, but I remember a few things I learned:
- Many states have roads that you have to PAY to travel on (there are no toll roads in Michigan)!
- Stores outside of Michigan don’t like it when you pay for things with Canadian money (here, it’s no big deal to use Canadian coins, although they often don’t work in vending machines).
- Not everyone refers to a sweet carbonated beverage as pop.
I also learned that I like to collect things. I remember buying decals of each state we went through. By the time we returned home I’d collected about a dozen, and couldn’t wait to get more. Unfortunately, it was several years before I left the state again, and by that time the decals were no longer important to me.
We never took another family trip. I think the stress was too much for Mom to handle. But the memory of the experience was one I cherish, and when my kids were young I tried to provide experiences like this for them. I’m glad to see my daughters continue this with their kids.