Monday, July 2, 2012

Jaunting in July

I guess I screwed up June pretty good.

Yeah, me…I did it. 

I screwed up June.

I wrote this whole big thing a month ago about what a wonderful month June is.  How just the thought of it gets us through all those long winter months of quiet desperation.

Unless we’re talking about this past winter, in which case you were out on the Sound water skiing through March.

But June was a bust this year.  Long weeks of clouds, rain and cool temperatures…or a short week and a half of 110 degrees. Either way we were stuck hiding behind doors.

However all that’s behind us now.   July has rolled into town and kicked June to the side.

“It’s my summer now…amateur”, July drawls as the door slams on June’s skinny behind.

July is an all business kind of summer month; one of only two full months of summer really…at least officially.

July is when all the schools are closed and the pools and beaches are open.

July hosts the 4th of July, which is fortuitous, and is the first real vacation month where people close their computers, walk away from their spread sheets and pack up their families and or themselves and head off to their vacation destination of choice.

Today, people go to all sorts of vacation destinations.

There are beach people, mountain people, 110 degree Florida theme park people.

Resort people, camping people…all kinds of people….all on vacation.

It was a bit different when I was a kid.

When I was a kid, a jaunt to the local beach was considered a vacation…but only if my dad came along, and only if it occurred in the middle of the week.

If I was just with my mom or it was a Saturday or Sunday, then it wasn’t a vacation at all…just business as usual. 

Every once in a while though we did get to go on a “real” vacation, which consisted of all of us piling into our old, but reliable, Chevy and accompanying my dad on a business trip to Canajoharie, NY, where he periodically dropped in on the Beechnut Life Saver and Gum factory to take care of some pressing candy business or another.

Not sure what he actually did there, but I like to imagine that it had something to do with peppermint.

While my dad went off to work, the rest of us got to hang out at the pool at the Thruway Motel in nearby Albany.

I know it doesn’t sound like much now, but it was a very advanced pool. It had a very cool water slide, which was about all of nine feet long and…wait for it…an actual diving board. 

I know….

What more could a kid want.

Who needs waves, tall pines or big eared mouse men to entertain?

And if we were good, at lunch time my mom would order us…again, wait for it…this exotic sandwich called a Turkey Club, which had three slices of toasted bread, and was cut into quarters, the way they did it on tropical islands…at least according to my mom.

In the evening, after another tasty meal at the Thruway Cantina, we would saunter across the parking lot to the new Cinerama movie theatre where we would catch the latest summer blockbuster, featuring a cast of thousand, most notably “How the West Was Won”, which seemed to always be playing, and was literally about 3 hours long.

I know….

Hard to imagine how great it really was. And the Albany popcorn was so much better than your everyday popcorn, for some reason.

By the next day, of course, we were all vacationed out—I mean how much can a person take—so we piled back into the Chevy, barely able to hold our heads up and motored south, back down the Thruway, from whence we came, towards home.  A reluctant return to the summer reality of prickly heat afternoons and firefly catching and enslaving nights.

I guess compared to today, it really wasn’t much. But it was what we had, and it must have been something…cuz I’m still thinking about it today.


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  1. A charming memoir, in the same league with the Norman Rockwell images. Hey, did your dad bring you treats from the Beechnut factory?

  2. Thanks!
    I grew up thinking an entire pack of gum was a serving, we had so much of it in the house. I would walk around like a squirrel, cheeks puffed out with 5 sticks at a time. I never knew any better. I had many friends due to my gum and life saver stash and willingness to pass it around like ice cubes on a hot day. Now…not so much…

  3. The best vacation at Lake George on the "Glorious Fourth" and the drive in movie was JAMES BOND!!!

    Maybe 1958

    1. Hi Elaine…thanks for the comment. I think Lake George is definitely a step up from Albany! And James Bond to boot. The problem with “How the West Was Won”, at least for an 8 year old, was way too much talking and not enough shooting….

  4. I loved the feeling in this... Facebooked it

    1. Thanks, T. I think the Rockwell’s may have helped….


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