2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks –
Week 18 (April 29 – May 5): Road Trip
I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.
If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!
This prompt had me thinking of the many road trips I took with my parents… or remember being told about.
The many road trips I do remember are the ones we took on weekends to my grandparents farm, about two hours away. They often began on a Friday evening after daddy came home from work. To pass time away, mama played car games with me… we counted coke bottles on both sides of the road… car colors… and cows. It sure made the time pass by… and it never hurt to have a cold Coke for the ride!
One of my first road trips, that I have no memory of… was a “Bryan” reunion in Dahlonega, Georgia when I was about five years old. We drove up with my mother’s parents; I only found out about it when I questioned as to where the photo below was taken.
My grandparents, Ola & Edgar McKinley.
Sure wish the photo was clearer so I could make the car out and read the sign for the Fair. I’ve also wondered if this is were they actually parked… at Aunt Sage’s house, as there was water nearby… it might even be the famous Cane Creek where my Bryan ancestors lived near.
Mama told me this story about the ride up… “As we drove round and round the mountain roads looking for the house where the reunion was, my father noticed that he wasn’t seeing any cemeteries… he wondered why. Finally, after finding our turnoff, which was only an open field with a gate… we arrived. My father opened the gate, and we drove through a pasture to reach their house… which was back in the woods… never even seen from the road; the back porch was built over a running creek. We arrived to find tables and tables of food waiting… and all day long, I watched the woman kill chickens… and see plate after plate of freshly fried chicken appear on those tables… the best fried chicken I’ve eaten other than at my mama’s table.”
When my grandfather asked some of the men, “why aren’t there any cemeteries around here,” he was quickly told… “we don’t need any!” Seems the Bryan’s had long lives there in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My great-great grandfather, Berrien Clark Bryan lived to be almost 100 years old, and a cousin, Ila Stargel Jones Sewell, died at age 114… holding the oldest living person in Georgia until 2017.
(From my research, I believe the house of that Bryan reunion belonged to Sara Catherine Bryan Long (1872 – 1964), known as Aunt Sage. She was the daughter of my great grandfather William Madison Bryan, and seemed to have been the one who held that family reunion from all I’ve learned.)
Little did I know at age five, that one day… I would be drawn back to Dahlonega, Georgia in my family research.
Road Trip to Meet Family
My father’s brother, Floyd Bryan, lived in North Carolina… so we often took weekend road trips to meet them at Lake Hartwell, S.C… which was about halfway for us. I’m assuming I took this photograph of my father (left), mother and my grandfather (Paul Bryan). Mama was sitting in my favorite spot when we traveled! First time I’ve noticed I can actually make out daddy’s license plate on his station wagon… another Pontiac!
Road Trips to Florida
As a small child, my parents took many road trips to Florida. I have only faint memories, but I’m often reminded by my mother.
On one trip to Miami, we stopped at a diner where my favorite chicken noodle soup was ordered for me. Somehow I managed to spill that hot soup all over me… the waitress quickly brought butter to the table for my parents to put on my burn. Butter was what was once used, until they discovered that butter holds the heat in… today we use cold water to cool the burned area. I guess my burns weren’t sever, as I never had any scars from those burns.
Florida Welcome Center… how they’ve changed!
I think it was the trip to Miami when we stayed at someone’s house on the beach… it was a boarding house like a B&B today. About the only memory I have is of smelling the cinnamon buns as I came downstairs for breakfast. What happened to all my memories?
Another trip was to Daytona Beach, and my cousin Paulette came with us. I remember the big waves there and how I’d ride them in on my tube. Mama watched me like a hawk… reminding me constantly how the tide could pull me under very quickly.
All the family road trips were taken in a station wagon… guess Daddy loved a wagon, especially a Pontiac! I’m thinking this might have been where we stayed?
My older cousin, Paulette, accompanied us on one road trip to Florida! Does anyone wear a bathing cap anymore?
Sure wish I had memories of seeing all those cars on the beach! If you’re wondering why my photos are cut… mama decided to put the family pictures in an album one year… making them fit!
There were so many beach road trips when I was young, that I don’t remember them all… but I do know they took place from seeing the many photos of me on the beach with my parents.
In thinking back, I think the main reason we went to Florida often was so Daddy could go deep sea fishing… that was his favorite hobby. When we went to Tallahassee, we always stayed at the same small motel just outside of town… the typical U-shaped motel with a small restaurant attached. I was old enough there to be allowed to go up to the restaurant in the morning by myself and order breakfast… and I always ordered a bacon sandwich…. just bacon and bread… no mayo! That was when children were usually safe out of your eyesight… although my mother didn’t often let me out of her eyesight for too long… who knows, I might have just snuck up there in the mornings!
While daddy spent the day out on the ocean, mama and I swam in the pool… hunted for shells, and walked the long pier behind the motel… while waiting for daddy to return. Daddy always took us out to dinner in the evenings to our favorite seafood restaurant… where he ordered me red snapper and a shirley temple drink. We came to Tallahassee often… always staying at the same motel and eating in the same restaurant.
Another roadtrip was with our neighbors to stay in their cottage at Alligator Point, Florida. I thought for sure I’d see alligators walking around there from the name… and Mama probably thought so too as she never let me outside by myself. The town was so-named as it’s a peninsula town shaped like an alligator from an aerial view. It wasn’t the type of beach where you swam or laid, but it was loaded with awesome shells. Mama and I often walked and picked up buckets of all types of shells and sea life to bring home… sand dollars, hermit crabs, crabs, and so many shells we’d never ever seen before. The hermit crab was a new one to us… mama quickly dropped it when the crab came out of his shell and tickled her palm.
When we returned home, mama cleaned all the shells… fastened wire to a frame and mounted the shells for me. It hung in my room for years… I even kept it for several years after I married, but eventually I dismantled it.
I was excited when I found this photo showing that seashell frame… I must have been dancing in my room… probably to the Beatles… when someone took this photo!
Camping Road Trip
The weekend camping road trips to Lake Sinclair were the best! We probably went a few times when I was about fourteen. Mama would be all packed… just waiting on daddy to come home from work on Friday night. They’d load up the station wagon with quilts, pillows and cooking pans… mama’s cast iron pan was a must for cooking over an open fire.
We usually arrived about dusk, finding it already alive with several campers already set up. I don’t remember having to camp in any certain area… just pull in where you wanted. Daddy always picked a spot where he wanted to sleep, as he slept out under the stars in a fold out recliner. Mama and I made a bed inside, after folding all the seats down… no fighting bugs for us, but he never complained of any. Having a station wagon always meant you had a place to sleep… was even better than sleeping in a tent at least… I thought so.
Waking up Saturday morning was the best, as daddy had already started breakfast… you woke to the sound of bacon sizzling in mama’s cast iron pan… I can smell it now! Breakfast was always daddy’s thing, even when we were home. The area would be buzzing with noise from all the campers who arrived overnight… and the kids would be checking out who was there… looking for friends they knew.
Daddy would have a beer while waiting for his friend Henry… who was married to mama’s best friend Willie Mae…. he often would bring his boat down on Saturday for fishing and water skiing. They had three girls… so I had friends for the day. My one and only skiing adventure was quite an experience… and never to be again. They were experts at skiing… me, I was a newbie. They hung the tow rope around my neck while putting on my water ski’s … but didn’t work so well for me as I went under… which ended me wanting to ski!
My best memories there were the Saturday night get togethers… the teenagers gathered at the cement covered pavilion where the jukebox was. We played that jukebox until an adult tired of it and pulled the plug. The one song that always takes me back to those Saturday nights is “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs… anytime I hear it, I remember when it was No. 1… at Lake Sinclair. Too bad I have no pictures of that old jukebox… it’s only in my mind!
Last road trip to Panama City, Florida
We stayed at the Fun “N” Sand motel on the beach… I was into taking lots of pictures so I had more to document this trip! This was during my “sewing” phase… I even made my outfit!
Panama City was the last trip I took with my parents… I was sixteen years old. and being an only child, I brought my best friend with me. We had a kitchen-apartment at a motel on the beach. There wasn’t big waves rolling in like there had been in Miami, but they had the clearest water and whitest sand I’d ever seen. As far out as you could walk, you could still see your toes through the water. There wasn’t large shells on that beach, but there were small colored shells they called periwinkles… we enjoyed picking up the many colored ones we found. (Notice the advertisements on the motel sign… Pool, air conditioned, TV, Apts., and steam heat… that one really cracked me up! You come to Florida for the beach in the summer… steam heat, really!)
Panama City had a long strip by the beach of hotels, food and attractions… everything you wanted to see or do was along that long strip. I remember my girlfriend and I spending time at the nearby mini-golf. Mama usually cooked breakfast and lunch for us, but daddy took us out to eat in the evening. I think this was the one place where he didn’t go deep-sea fishing… unless I’ve forgotten.
Mama’s Road Trip
My mother had a couple of road trips she’s laughed about through the years. One was an impromptu weekend trip after work on a Friday night. She and her best friend, Willie Mae, went home to pack a bag… after midnight… and headed to Florida. They were going to spend the night with Willie Mae’s uncle and spend a couple of days on the beach.
The funny part of that road trip was when they were leaving to come back home… Willie Mae locked her keys in the trunk. Before her uncle could offer any help, mama just took her keys out and said, “I bet mine will work.” The uncle was without words, when she opened up that trunk. When I picture those two on the road, it reminds me of Thelma and Louise.
Another road trip mama took, was with a friend to Texas. It seems her trips were usually just all of a sudden… no planning. This time, it was mama’s first plane ride and they were going to Texas… why, just because! While at the airport, their plane was delayed because a plane had been hijacked to Cuba. As they were finally boarding, mama said… “hope our plane gets hijacked to Cuba, I’ve never been there.” Her friend was like, “don’t say that, we don’t want to go there.”
Just an afterthought…
Sadly, hubby and I didn’t take many road trips with our children… and I so regret now that I didn’t give them those long winding road trip memories. At that time, he was too busy working, I worked every weekend and what time we had was spent at his parents house… as they had a pool. Even though they don’t have the road trip memories, they definitely have pool memories to remember. That was where they learned to swim and as many of the family gathered at the pool in the summer… they have memories spent with family. I try and take the grandchildren on local trips with us in the summer, but nothing too far away as they aren’t used to spending much time in the car, and no matter what games or books you bring… you hear from the backseat, “are we there yet?”
Stay tuned for Week 19 … Nurture!
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