June 20, 2008

DT Road Trip & Head Count

In her new book, ARE WE THERE YET?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations Susan Sessions Rugh says Ford had an ad campaign selling their cars as "America's schoolhouse on wheels." Which reminds me that I have to finish packing; we're heading to the Outer Banks for a few days with the family. The last time we went to the beach, the kid learned to count to 100 by counting trucks on I-95. This year, she can practice by watching me fill the gas tank.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from Rugh's book:

While some people spent their vacations visiting historic sites across the country, others took their children long distances to Washington D.C. Those cross-country trips to the nation's capital lingered in the memories of children in the backseat of the car. In 1950 young Ann Whiting made a three-week cross-country trip in the family car from rural Utah to Washington, D.C. with her parents, a brother, and a sister. Her father, Ray Whiting, was a farmer and raised livestock, so the family left in the spring after the lambs were sold. The children missed school, but her teacher assigned her to write something about the journey. Ann remembers sitting in the backseat with her sister Gayle, playing card games and doing embroidery. Her mother kept a cardboard lunch box behind her seat stocked with bread, mayonnaise, tuna fish, and bologna for feeding the family along the road. When the family arrived at a motel, her father told the children to duck down behind the seat to the floor so they would not be charged more for the room. They took the blue highways across because the (red) interstate highways had not yet been built.
My mom says it was actually 1953, but she takes the blame for missing it in the manuscript. Also, her school paper included no mention my grandfather's motel scamming; she was apparently saving it for her friend's book.

Road Trip! How piling the kids into the car became the quintessential American vacation. [washpost]

1 Comment

My mother-in-law's family (6 kids) did the same "hide in the back" thing for motels. And, she notes, back then cars didn't have seat belts, yet they all survived the experience.

But mayonnaise kept in a cardboard box (no ice?) That's taking risks!

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