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My Blog

A road trip in the 50's

Good morning to all.  Hope that your 4th of July celebration went well and all have recovered from the rockets red glare...and all the BBQ's. 
Today, I was sitting here this morning and must admit, vacillating over so many different topics on what to write about.  I must admit that hearing from you, my readers would be a tremendous as to what direction to blog about.  Where most interest lies.  If you have suggestions or comments...PLEASE feel free to share and join in. 
Today I remembered a road trip that used to happen every year around the end of August.  My mother had a friend that she worked with whose Aunt owned a home up in Galena, Illinois.  So each year we were invited to go out and stay for the weekend. 
Now this one  trip I really loved.  We would always leave on the Friday evening after my mom got home from work.  The car would get packed, a thermos of juice and a thermos of coffee would get made.  Grandma would make sure to package up some of her homemade peanut butter cookies..my personal favorites.  I would make sure I had my comic books and a flash light and pillow and off we went. 
Now, back in the 50's I remember my mom had a turquoise and white, 1955 Chevy Bel Air.  I remember how huge the back seats were, and the foot area was so large that I sat in it using my pillow by the hump in the floor and would sit there almost the entire time reading my comic books.  The flashlight was for when it got dark too read.  I remember it seeming like the trip took forever...It was probably a good 3 hour drive back then. I would snack on my cookies along the way.  Have sips of juice from my thermos and cup and just enjoy the anticipation of what was to come.
I remember the last lap of the drive, we would go through these dark roads that had small hills that were pretty close to each other...The car would dip down and you would have this feeling of  being on a roller coaster and your stomach would drop...I loved that part the best.  That was the point when I sat up in the seats and squealed as we drove up and down.  I am not quite sure how it made my mother feel...but oh, what fun it was for me. 
When we arrived at the home, it was pretty dark outside.  Rosemary's Aunt was waiting outside to welcome us.  There were always hugs and kisses and the always...."My, my, my, how big you've grown."  She always smelled like lilies of the valley.  I think that even today, when I get a whiff of that scent it makes me think of
her.  She was an endearing woman, who lived alone in the beautiful country type cottage way up on a huge hill.  At the edge of the hill was a tremendous drop that I was always warned to keep my distance from.  In the front of the house near the cliff was this big wooden swing that hung from a big wooden arch.  I loved sitting there and swinging during the day and overlooking the valley below.  In side the house, I was given my own bedroom upstairs.  The stairs went up from the kitchen...an odd concept for me.  All our bedrooms were on the same floor.  I remember my room was always done so sweetly.  There was a double bed there for me that had this soft pink floral chenille bedspread  on top.   The curtains were frilly and the kind that were drawn back to each side.  There was a nightstand on each side of the bed with lamps that were hurricane style with these soft pink milky shades that were made of glass or perhaps porcelain with deeper shades of pink roses on them.  There was also the old racking chair in the room and it had these soft white cushions on it.  There were some old stuffed teddy bears on top of the bed, and some books for children in a rack nearby.  It was as though that room was made especially for me.  I loved that I got the opportunity to sleep in such luxury and the best part was, that it was all mine.  At home I shared the bedroom with my mom and grandma.  Mom and I slept in a double bed and grandma slept in a single.  This was a royal treat for me, indeed! 
When it was morning, you could smell the breakfast that she was cooking downstairs.  The aroma of bacon wafted up through the hall from the kitchen that came up to my room.  I can remember jumping out of bed and hurrying down in my robe an slippers just to see what she was making.  Pancakes was usually one of the items on the menu for breakfast.  But they weren't just regular pancakes...they were always filled with some sort of fruit and nuts.  The syrup was piping hot and she served it in this little metal pourer.  There was always fresh squeezed orange juice.  Boy  we sure don't do that anymore...or do you?  I remember watching her as she took this glass orange squeezer and placed over the glass, cut the orange in half and twisted it over the glass.  It caught all the seeds and most of the pulp.  All I know was I loved orange juice back then.  After that amazing breakfast, I would hurry to wash and dress because I wanted to come downstairs into the living room and sit at her piano.  I didn't know how to play, but I loved it.  I always wanted a piano, but there was no place for us at our home to put one.  So there I sat holding that piano captive.  I plunked away at those ivory keys until she would come in and sit down and play a piece for me.  She played beautifully.  I watched as her slender fingers gently moved across the keys.  She taught me to play chopsticks and then would join me as I played.  It was like heaven.  Chopsticks may not sound like heavenly music to the average person....it might even grate on your nerves, but for me...I was playing music and it was as important  to me as perhaps Chopin might be to someone else. 
Once mom and Rosemary came down, it was time to leave and go exploring...I, being the average young kid, would have much rather have stayed at the house, but as a kid you have no choice in the mater.  We would drive into town and go in and out of stores.  Then, when they were done shopping ,we could head out to the festival that was held there.  The one thing I remembered the most was that they had food....most importantly, Roasted corn on the cob. I had never seen corn roasted in it's husk.  I remember how you would buy the corn and peel back the husk and silks and they had these huge barrels of butter and you would dip them into the vats.  They had these huge salt shakers by the barrel to salt your corn and you would just walk around eating corn all day long.  I remember how good that tasted and remember one was never enough. 
When we returned home, Rosemary's Aunt always had this amazing supper waiting for us and then afterwards, we would help her pull out this huge board from under the couch that had a puzzle on it that was in the works.  We would gather around the dining room table, and for an hour or so put together the pieces.  I only remember once in all the years actually finishing a puzzle.  When our eyes began to cross from piecing the puzzle together, we would retire to the living room.  Auntie would sit at the piano and play songs that were upbeat and lively and we would actually have a sing-along.  I hated when the end of the night came, because I knew that the next morning we would be leaving after breakfast.  I remember getting back into the car and looking out the back window of the car and waving goodbye.  It was such a sad way to have to end such a wonderful weekend.  Years went by, my mother and her friend parted ways and we never returned again.  I still think of those days with such longing and yeaning for those moments, that room and the comfort of a woman that I hardly knew.  I wish that I could have told her how important she was.  Perhaps she knew....perhaps she thought about me through the years.  Memories are like  invisible pieces that are in your body.  They are the cells that seem to grow as you age. The appreciation of those types of experiences grow more appreciated as the years go by.  A road trip..to an enchanted kingdom.  At least it was for me and I am ever grateful for those days.  I hope that I was able to give some of those moments to my children and grandchildren.  That some day, they too, will look back at the road trips or the visits to my house with fondness and appreciation and most of all, I hope they will know that everything I ever did, was always out of love.

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