Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trailer Days

There's nothing quite like being an only child on a road trip in a station wagon in the 50s. The back end was my playground. And when my dad pulled down the back seats, I had a bedroom.
Before we had our trailer, the suitcases were lined around the sides of the trunk area. But the middle was mine, all mine. I was surrounded by my dolls, picture books, coloring books, crayons...anything a little girl could want for entertainment.
 Oh my, "how did you get by without a DVD player or iPad," they ask.
And when I got tired, I had room to lay down and sleep.
Was I spoiled? Um - yeah.
Dad bought a trailer in the 60s. That took our summertime adventures and fun to a whole new level.
For my mom, I'm pretty sure it was a mixed blessing.
No more eating out and sleeping in motels where she'd walk out of the room without a glance back to the unmade beds and used towels.
Our first trailer was small and basic. It came with a double bed tucked in the back. The only way you could make it was to crawl around on top and tuck in sheets and blankets. My bed was a cot sort of thing above.
We had an ice box, pump faucet, propane stove and one or two gas lights that had to be lit with a match.  Camping out in a metal box.
Our next trailer afforded us more room. It had a real refrigerator, electric lights, hot and cold running water and my bed, still above my parents, was plywood with a foam rubber mattress. An added bonus was two tiny windows, one at my head and one at my feet. Fresh air! We traveled in luxury now.
There was nothing better than sitting at our table for an evening meal - canned green beans and whole potatoes with spam cooked in pineapple on melmac plates. Seriously, I looked forward to it.
Another treat for me - fireflies.
I counted the days until we crossed the border into Missouri and stopped overnight at Our Lady of the Road park. It was nothing to write home about. Not much more than a place off the highway for a few trailers and cars. I remember a statue of whatever saint or Mary that "guarded" the highway and a swing set. And every once in awhile, other children to play with. But the highlight...
Lightning bugs.
Those of us who live on the West Coast can only read about or dream of fireflies, or lightning bugs.
I'd wait on pins and needles until dusk, clutching my glass jar, it's lid poked full of holes.
And then I'd see my first one tucked in a bush. Before long the sky would twinkle with tiny dancing fairies, and I'd chase them until I had a jar full.
I'd tuck the jar in a corner of my bed and fall asleep to the flash, flash, flash of my nightlight. In the morning, I'd release them into the air.
Although I enjoyed various aspects of our trip up to this point, I knew within a day or two, my nieces, nephews, cousins and I would spend our evenings collecting lightning bugs in jars. Now this is what I called - summer vacation.

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