Traveling is a major part of being a military brat.You always awaited the word of just exactly where you were going once your father announced that we were being transferred.I made many small trips throughout the United States, but vividly recall traveling across the country twice with the entire family. Once in 1958 and once in 1962.
We were all jammed into a Dodge Station Wagon and looking forward to the new duty station! This was when a Holiday Inn was relatively new and a real treat to stay in one. The usual stop was at a road side motel with a gravel drive and parking lot.
There wasn’t always a pool, but always room to throw the baseball around! TV’s were non-existent in motel rooms! Besides, there were only three or four channels anyway! The restaurant was a diner about a quarter of a mile away. They always had good food and the breakfasts were the best! Every night you could listen to the trains passing by with their moanful whistles! Then it was up early in the morning to continue the journey.
There were always stretches of highway that exhibited the Burma Shave signs. It was always a kick to see them come up and then put the whole message together. My dad was from a small town in Kentucky and no matter which direction we were headed, we always made a week or two stop in Morehead and Lexington! My aunt and uncle lived in Morehead and Dad went to high school and attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
We would always make the trek to River (close to Paintsville) and go fishing in the Big Sandy River. They had a swinging bridge that was quite unstable, but we would go out on it and get it swinging. They had a little post office that had a soda machine and some candy bars, etc. We would go there nearly everyday we were down there.
I can remember walking along the railroad tracks in Lexington and heading over to the University to see what we could. We actually snuck into the basketball court (long before Rupp Arena was around) and ran up and down the court pretending we were UK players. Grandma lived in Lexington and we always stayed at her place.
It wasn’t very big, but we were all there! Though my Dad, Aunt and Uncle and Grandma are gone, if there was ever a place I could call my home town, that is where it would be! I guess that is because it was my Dad’s hometown. I must admit, however, that I have always liked being from “everywhere and nowhere”. I loved growing up in the Air Force!!
In the South we would stop at watermelon stands and get a quarter of a melon for a dime. There were slushies at the Dairy Queen and if we were lucky we would stop at a “Big Boy” and get a Big Boy, Fries, and a shake that you had to eat with a spoon. There was always a stop at the closest A&W. I would always get the “megaphone” quart!
The gas stations didn’t have mini-marts, but we always looked forward to the coke machine. Some of them were the icebox types where you had to work the bottle through the “maze”, get it to the end and then insert the dime and lift the bottle up! There were times when you had to move several bottles around in order to get to the one you wanted!
The cars did not have AC so staying cool became a little difficult. So, the windows were all open! Sometimes a towel would hang in an open window and the wind would make the air a little cooler.
There were no iPods, etc. so we read comics, magazines, or played the “car” games. Alphabet, license plates, etc.
By the time I did the trip driving home from college (Arizona to Florida) in 1969 a lot had changed! Gone were the icebox soda machines and the gravel driveway motels along the highway, and it just wasn’t the same without my brothers and parents.
But I will never forget those trips. Every time I hear the tires on gravel, I remember the small roadside motels and drive-in movies!!
Good times! Great memories!