Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Travel Tuesday

Today's blogging prompt is on traveling. Sit back, and see if you can relate to these!

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.
We would leave Norfolk, travel through the Hampton Roads Tunnel, and hit US Route 60 on the other side. It was a straight shot through Richmond, and Lexington. We followed the route right into West Virginia, where my Grandma Bean lived just over the state line.

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.
We stopped at gas stations. Attendants were usually pretty nice when we told them we stopped by just to use the rest room.
We usually looked for stations that had a sign that said they had clean rest rooms. If they didn't, you ran the risk of going into a nasty rest room whether you wanted to or not! (Hey, when ya gotta go, you gotta go!)

You usually had to ask the attendant for the rest room key, to a clean rest room.
Keys were often on Huge key tags. Sometimes they were put on a large dowel or a stick. This was to deter anyone from accidentally carrying the rest room key home in their purse or pocket! (Okay kids, ask your parents, they will know what I'm talking about!)

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.
But, rain or shine, sleet, snow or hail, you always had to go outside to access the ladies room.

Finding someplace to eat along the way wasn't always easy, either! This was before there was a McDonald's on every street corner! They were few and far between in those days along the east coast.  There were many small diners as you passed through little towns.
These always served good food. You must remember, in those days, eating out was still considered a treat, so we were excited, as kids, to get to eat in a diner!
And sometimes we would stop at a drive-in diner.
Here the waitress would come out to the car, take your order and bring it back. Sometimes they walked. and sometimes...
...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 placed on trays that mounted on the car windows. If the diner was open during the cold winter months, these could be turned around and placed on the inside of the window, if you scooched over in the seat.

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.
Meals were simple. Usually a bologna sandwich for us. And a thermos of Kool-Aid for the kiddies, and one of coffee for the grownups.
Mom might throw in some boiled eggs. Or a couple deviled eggs. And just for you folks that might not remember, we didn't have Tupperware back then. Or plastic sandwich/storage bags. Sandwiches were wrapped in waxed paper. We had plastic wrap, but my Mom didn't buy it often, so most of the time our boiled eggs would be wrapped in wax paper, and the ends twisted shut. We used the cup on the thermos to drink from, and my sister and I shared the same cup. As did Mom and Dad with the coffee thermos cup. When you ran out of coffee or Kool-Aid, your thermos would be rinsed from a water pump at a roadside park.
And the thermos would then be refilled with water from the pump. Sodas were considered a treat, and we hardly ever bought them for home, much less for a journey!

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.
This is till a common practice in a lot of old country homes without proper insulation in winter months. These homes are usually heated with wood fired stoves, and the heat has no vents to go to upper floors, which means it gets very, very cold in upper floor bedrooms!

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.

1 comment:

Claudia said...

In the early sixties we went from Pittsburgh to Florida in a Chevy station wagon, without air conditioning or a radio. It was the same sort of trip but my mother bought bread and lunch meat and made sandwiches when we stopped.

My sister loved the Tiger in the Tank and every time she saw the Esso station she said she had to "go", even if the last stop was fifteen minutes earlier. It is funny now many years later.