Some of my friends have jetted off to exotic places, and others are staying home and picnicking at outdoor concerts, going to dance performances and generally enjoying summer stay-cations. I have been remembering vacations in my childhood. We couldn’t afford to fly anywhere, much less to stay in a motel (remember motels?), so our vacations were either day trips or long drives to visit more distant relatives.
One trip we made many times was from our home in Tennessee through Kentucky to Ohio, to visit my oldest sister and her young family. This was in the early days of the interstate highway system, and Kentucky was pretty low on the priority list for completion. I think we went KY 68 much of the way, and finally got to the Bluegrass Parkway, a toll road.
The route was mostly two-lane blacktop highways with the occasional passing lane. The roads wound around the hills and hollows, passing through towns like Horse Cave and near Mammoth Cave National Park. I was in the back seat, trying not to get carsick as our un-airconditioned car swerved around the curves. Daddy liked to drive fast, and Mother was constantly front-seat-driving from the passenger side. “George! You’re making me nervous!” was her frequent cry.
My favorite part of the trip was stopping at Stuckey’s. Any Southern or Midwestern road warriors will remember them. Often they were the only place to get snacks and gasoline on these highways winding from one one-horse town to another. Their claim to fame was the famous Pecan Log Roll. Stuckey’s also sold the driest, nastiest pralines on the face of the earth, but we thought they were great since we’d never had the real thing.
It was a tremendous treat to stop there, look at all the tourist junk, and maybe get a candy bar or a piece of pecan divinity. I coveted the small figurines of horses made of ceramic or plastic–I was into collecting horses and reading horse stories at that time. They also sold novelty goods like cups that spilled on you, and I think I remember comic books.
We’d get Cokes to go with Mother’s box lunches (another big treat, since Cokes were forbidden at home), park in the shade, and gas up and hit the restrooms before getting back on the road again. A road trip, indeed!