If it is true that your early, formative years, define who you are for life, then I am in big trouble! I was a horrible kid. There is a specific strip from the old Bill Watterson comic strip Calvin and Hobbes that I have always remembered because it reminded me of myself as a kid. It shows the father in the strip walking out the door for work and getting in the car while the kid (Calvin) calls after him telling his dad all the fun things that he could be doing if he didn’t have t go to work. The father, all the while getting visible depressed. The strip ends with Calvin watching his dad drive off for the city in a foul mood and admitting “I’d hate to have a kid like me!”
I realize that this is precisely the reason that I have never been so rushed and ready to “get serious, settle down, and start a family.” Well, if it isn’t the only reason, it is a contributing factor. I remember my mom cursing us by wishing us what she seemed to think was the ultimate: “You’ll have kids of your own some day, you know!”
In my case, this was not so much an idle threat as a serious curse worthy of the most serious practitioner of the dark arts! By this I mean to say that I was… well, let’s put it this way. Growing-up in Miami and having all of our relatives up in Minnesota or out in California it was a MAJOR undertaking to get ourselves up to visit family. When we traveled, Mom and Dad shared the driving and the chores. My uncle, (Mom’s brother) was married in 1966 right about the time that we were going to be in Minnesota anyway. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out with Dad’s work commitments and if we had waited for him to be available, Mom would have missed Uncle Speed’s wedding.
So they made the logical decision, they decided to head up separately Mom would drive up to Minnesota and make the wedding, Dad would join a week later and the return to Miami would follow the normal division of the driving, discipline and other parental duties. This left the problem of splitting-up the responsibilities equitably.
Remember: as a child, I was a troublemaker of world-class proportions. Had it been an Olympic event, I am sure I would have taken at least silver for the good old USA! It is a tribute to my prowess as a royal pain that my parents considered it an even trade to divide the responsibilities thus:
Mom would drive to Minnesota alone (remember this is well before the advent of the interstate system this drive took three-to-four days) in the station wagon pulling the camper trailer with my sister, my elder brother, my baby brother (who at the time was less than a year old), and the family daschund.
Dad would follow a week later. And what was his responsibility? Bring me with him!
I can remember very little of the week leading up to our departure – other than I hung-out with the family from our church who used to sit with us when our parents needed time alone. And they planned some kind of fancy French party for me called a Bon Voyage party, though what the reason for the French name was escaped me – we had ice cream and cake but it was just a party like any other!
So, a week after the green Rambler Station Wagon pulled out of our driveway pulling the gold trailer and carrying our family to Minnesota, Dad and I followed driving a rental-return Chrysler Convertible that Dad needed to return to Chicago on our way to Minnesota. This is more-or-less the point where Dad and I differ in our accounts of the trip. And as this is getting a bit long, I think that this is the perfect place to split the story. Look for Dad’s accounting of the next few days tomorrow.
Wherever you are today I hope that you have happy memories to share with your family and friends.