Sunday, June 26, 2011

MID-CENTURY VACATIONS

You know, back in the day, there weren’t overnight accommodations such as we have today. Hotels were expensive. Motels were few and far between and meant only as a place to sleep. My mother never trusted that such motels were clean. (At a motel, I was not to touch my feet to the floor unless I had my slippers on, a rule so ingrained in me that I still abide by it.) So, when you traveled, you planned to stay with friends as a means of cutting expenses. And if a friend or relative asked to stay with you, you were glad to help them out. It was just the way the system worked. And you believed this system the very best way all around, not just because of the expense but because hotels/motels weren’t comfortable. And besides, you were glad for the opportunity to visit your relatives or friends, and you believed they were glad to see you. 

Until recent decades, the destination vacation was out of the question for most people unless they could stay with friends. Travel was for the affluent and was exceptional if it happened for the common man – worthy of mention in the home town newspaper. 

I remember my dad sitting in the kitchen at the farmhouse after harvest in 1959. The harvest had been a good one and he was happy – joyous even – and he felt like celebrating. “I tell you what I’d like to do,” he said. “I’d like to go to San Francisco.” And so we made a late summer road trip to San Francisco in our ’55 Ford Fairlane. Daddy had friends there and so did Mother. Both couples had lovely homes. We spent several days with one and several days with the other. On the way home, our route was planned so that we stayed in the home of another friend. We could not have afforded the trip without the hospitality of these friends.
But the destination vacation didn’t happen often in our family. Seven years later, when I graduated from high school, we went to Disneyland. Again, we stayed with a friend of mother’s who had invited us to come. She had visited in our home several times.

Often the impetus for travel was to visit a friend or relative. The sights you saw were relative to where you were going. For instance, my Uncle Earle, my dad’s brother, lived in Idaho Falls, so he took us to Yellowstone while we were there. And Mike and I drove with our family to Arkansas three times – and flew once – so that we could visit Mike’s mother and other family members. Those visits included a stay at the family cabin on the Ouachita River. As we drove across the country we stopped at various points of interest. We wouldn’t have dreamed of any other sort of vacation. I’ll never regret that Mike was able to show the children where he grew up and how he spent his summers as a child.

Today, though, it’s different. People are more affluent – or less conservative – and willing to spend for travel. It’s not just a matter of more money but also of vacation allotment. 

All of this is glittering generality, of course. After marrying in the ‘30s, Mike’s mother and dad delayed their family for seven years so that they could make some road trips. But here again, I know some of those trips were to visit family.

[I try to match my posts to my pictures, but this one fails miserably. Nevertheless, I wanted to show the lovely wild roses out on Curfman Road with the snow-capped hills in the distance.] KW

6 comments:

Chuck said...

We never seemed to not travel because of expense. It was mostly because of lack of time away from work. This week, we are going to Oakland, CA for the wedding of a granddaughter. On the way, we will see Yosemite Park, stay with our son in Antioch, visit a friend near Sacramento, and go to a reception at our daughter's in Fallon, NV. We try to maximize the events on any one trip. We will stay two nights in a motel in two weeks.

Leah said...

Another "framable" photo. I've never seen wild rose blooms so prolific. Yes, traveling in my life has also included visits with friends & family across the country.

One funny story of staying with family reminds me of my mother and aunt. I'll call her aunt "L" to protect the guilty or innocent, whichever you choose. The year was 1986. Mother's 50th H.S. reunion was in Independence, MO. She lived in Denver and she could afford to go only if she stayed with someone. She called her sister, aunt L, who agreed to be mother's hostess. Mother and Aunt L were given up for adoption when they were little girls after their father died. Mother was 4. Aunt L was 8. They went to different homes, never saw each until they were grown and only as adults became friends, but the relationship was rocky.

Mother wasn't comfortable when Aunt L wanted to go to all of the reunion events with her. Mother felt that the reunion was just for the graduates. My memory isn't clear if Aunt L did in fact accompany mother. I remember mother complaining to me about this subject later.

The day my mother left to go to the airport and back to Denver, aunt L told mother that her suitcase in the middle of the floor was an accident waiting to happen. They both knew it was in the middle of the floor. Well, Aunt L did have an accident and went "#*&@ over teakettle," to quote an old phrase. This is a family friendly blog, so I won't curse. Aunt L was on the floor screaming at my mother that she had caused her to fall when she wouldn't move her suitcase. Aunt L told mother to run down the street and get a neighbor who had a wheelchair so that she could get off the floor. I can only relate what I heard and I heard it from both sides later! Each blamed the other for the accident. Now the time was nearing for mother to leave for the airport, so she was getting nervous. Mother was a Nurse, but she couldn't get control of this volatile family drama.

The neighbor came. Mother left. Aunt L had no broken bones, just the satisfaction of knowing that an accident did happen. Mother never thought of staying with aunt L in the future and I don't think Aunt L offered an invitation, either.

Hallie said...

I would open my doors to others more readily if I had a decent place for them to sleep. I'll have to make up for lost time when the day comes.

Chris said...

Our family didn't travel. We didn't have the money, or the time. I think that's why I loved those summers at Canyon so much--they were like vacations to me. Of course I'm certain Mom didn't think so. :-) She still had to cook and clean, and friends would drop by on weekends and she would have to cook for them, too.

Kathy said...

Yes, Chuck and Joanne are good guests and wonderful hosts -- a good example of the system at its best.

Leah, your example might be the system at its worst. Either one of those ladies could have prevented that situation.

Hallie, some people would appreciate the ability to say, "Sorry, I just don't have room for you to stay with me. It's out of the question."

And Chris, your comments reminded me of what Bennie (Mike's mother) said of their summer vacations at their cabin. She said all she wanted was to be left alone with her family, but they had so much company all the time and she had to cook for them. But in her case, since these people were mostly her extended family, I thought she could have said, "We'd love to see you. We'll be ready for you on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. You bring the cake." (Or whatever worked for her.)

Mike said...

Way back, they weren't motels they were "tourist courts".