When I was a young child, my Dad was in the military. He was in the Navy and spent a great deal of time aboard a ship away at sea. When he came home, we often went to my grandparents homes to visit them. His mother, who lived in West Virginia, and my Mom's parents, who lived in Indiana.
Back then there wasn't any interstate. This meant travel was on 2-lane highways for the most part.
We traveled from Norfolk, Virginia, in what back then took about 11-hours on old US Route 60.
Going to Grandma Bean's was always a treat. Mom and Dad played games with us to keep us occupied during trips in those days. (No fancy electronics to keep the kiddies busy back then!) Dad would tell us we were headed into wild country! He had us watching for wild Indians. We were sure, every now and then, that we had seen one peaking around the tree trunks at us from the forest that lined most of the highway! And when we saw a deer, Dad always said, "It's a shame we didn't get Mom to pack the salt shaker! You'd only have to shake a little salt on its' tail to catch it!" We'd laugh and giggle every time.
There weren't any rest stops, like there are along the interstates now.
You usually had to ask the attendant for the rest room key, to a clean rest room.
Rest rooms were usually accessed by going around the outside of the building. Men's rest rooms were usually inside, or were the furthest toward the back of the building. Sometimes there were signs to point a young lady to the rest room.
And sometimes we would stop at a drive-in diner.
...they skated! Now here were some talented waitresses! Think about carrying a tray big enough to handle service for four, including their drinks! No rolled up paper bag like you get for a take out today!
Meals were simple affairs. A hotdog or a hamburger. French fries (from real potatoes kiddies!) And a soda, served in either a real glass, or a waxed paper cup. Straws were paper, and they didn't come individually wrapped! There wasn't any super-sizing of anything in the meal! And the only condiments were ketchup and mustard. If you were lucky, Dad would order a shake instead of a cola. But if you got a shake, you usually only had a burger, or an order of fries. Seldom both with a shake!
Since the trip took so long, we usually only ate in a diner for one of the meals that day. The other main meal would consist of a picnic lunch at a roadside park.
The parks were the predecessor to the Rest Stops seen along our Interstate system today. They dotted the landscape in every state, along every major highway that criss-crossed the state. Some of these had outhouse-style facilities, and others had none. At the latter, there were usually paths into the surrounding woods which somehow you just seemed to follow, men in one direction, ladies in the other. Bushes and trees provided coverage from the opposite sex.
When we arrived at my Grandmother Bean's house, I remember that at night my sister slept on an Army cot in an attic bedroom with my parents. I slept in the bed with my Grandmother, which was in her living room. (The attic bedroom was the only true bedroom in the house.) In the dining room was another bed in a corner where my uncle slept.
And Grandma didn't have modern electricity. Her light fixtures could only handle a 40-watt light bulb. And she didn't use any lamps, as she didn't have electrical outlets. So, each room was always dark and dim to me. She had a television. But her tv had only one station. (Not that we were used to much more! Cable hadn't been invented yet, so we had 3 public television stations in our area! NBC, CBS, and we even had PBS!) So, Grandmother's single station hardly seemed worth turning the set on. It was run from an extension cord to the light fixture in the ceiling, which had an outlet on it. The light was turned on by a pull string. No wall switches!
We usually stayed here for a couple of days. Dad would go hunting, and try to kill a deer or some rabbits for Grandmother. Her income was almost nothing. Dad never left her without helping her stock up first. And when I was five, she came to live with us.
We'd leave Grandmother Bean's early one morning, and drive another 12-hours to get to my Grandparents in Indiana. These were Mom's parents, Grandma and Grandpa Dreher. The trip was basically the same. and when the visit was complete, we'd return home the same way. Back to Grandmother Bean's. Spend the night. And then on to Norfolk.
It's hard to believe, but with Interstate-64, you can leave Norfolk at 7 a.m., and by 7 p.m. you can be in Corydon, Indiana! It seems impossible that travel has changed so much in just my life time!
But then, I remember Aunt Audrey talking of traveling to North Carolina when she was a young girl with my Grandpa Bean and the family. My Aunt Pauline had tuberculosis, and the doctor advised that they move her to North Carolina where she could breathe in the air. (About 1920.)
They traveled by Model T roadster. It took days. And they slept on the ground, camping out under the stars! But then, that's another story.