Days Gone Bye: Summer Vacation (Retread from 1 August 2001)

Published 4:42 pm Sunday, September 3, 2023

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When I wrote the name of this week’s column, for no particular reason, I thought about that National Lampoon movie about the Griswold’s entitled Christmas Vacation.  My wife and children have often called me Griswold, especially when I’d be up on a ladder plugging in Christmas lights to beat the band, only to have some or all of those buggers fail to ignite, at which time I reckon my reaction probably did put onlookers in remembrance of the Chevy Chase Griswold fit.

Well, anyhow, Alice Ann is figuring on towing me off to the coast for a few days, so I’ll be shorter than usual.  Did y’all catch where I said we were headed?  To the coast.  Not to the beach or the condo or Gulf Shores.  We just always called it the coast from the time we first started heading down there at the end of World War II, so I still call it by that early name.  Well, it is the coast.

I can pretty near feel the excitement Billy and I had in our hearts the night before we were to get up before daylight, and strike out for the coast.  Daddy would make a pallet on the floor of the car for Billy, and I would stretch out on the back seat when we took off.  When we were smaller, one of us would stretch out in that space in front of the back window.  Remember that?  Reckon if Daddy had to put on brakes real fast, whichever one of us was up there would have been airborne sho nuff. 

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We’d get down to Gulf Shores about daylight.  Exciting thing to take our first look at that big patch of water with the waves lapping up on the bank. (Well, I believe we did call it a beach ‘stead of a bank).

We’d play around, and naturally Daddy would fish, and Ma would sit ‘til time to check into that old hotel or one of those early cabins, the ones with the screen porches and no Air Conditioning .  There was a mighty long stretch of nothing atall but bank and water down at Gulf Shores in those days.  Did have a mighty long pier for fishing.  Daddy made sure of that fact.

We always got to know the folks in the other cabins.  Ate supper together, and stuff like that.  Shucks!  Some folks today don’t even know the family living next door to ‘em back home. 

One summer we headed out to Florida.  Never will forget stopping at all those places where you could drink all the orange juice you could hold  for about fifteen cents.  First time we took older son, Tadd, to Florida, I was figuring on getting all that orange juice again.  Well, you could get all you could drink for a dollar, but all you could drink for a buck was that one glass. A real letdown.

Most of our vacation times were a three or four day long weekend, but that was plenty, especially when our two first cousins and their mama and daddy went with us.  Yep, eight of us in that car, and, yep, no air conditioning.

Whatever you  do, or wherever you go, I wish you could feel as carefree as an eight year old in 1948, headed down to that bank on the coast.