Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I did on My Summer Vacation by Diana Flegal

Do you remember the assignment? You haven't been back at your desk but a day or two and BAM- homework is assigned! You have to write an essay on what you did over summer vacation.

I would imagine the teacher had different reactions when she read them. Much like the ones we agents and editors have when reading submissions. Grin.

Here are a few lines from my memory book:

     We drove south then west one year- my Dad had lost his job, so we had the whole month of July to hit the road before he began his new one. Coleman box canvas tent, stove and cooler- along with our sleeping bags were stowed on the car's roof rack along with a box of canned goods, pots and pans and kitchen necessities. Aluminum foil and the iron skillet being mainstays. Our fresh groceries were bought daily, which my mother cooked as Dad and my brother and I pitched the tent- which involved digging a trench in the event it rained.   My brother Tim and I rolled around the back of our PINK Rambler station wagon, (seat-belt laws had not been written back then) as my Dad, peddle to the metal, clocked his goal of 500 miles a day. That might not seem like a long trip today, but riding west in 1959 without air conditioning in the dead of summer wore us all out. Six or seven paper maps guided our way along with a road Atlas.
     I loved the temporary homes we made as we traveled across the country. Especially the nights after we'd made our trek to the bathhouse for our showers and sat around the camp fire in our jammies before bed. Sometimes Dad told us stories, or we just took turns poking the fire, sending sparks up toward the star studded sky. Even when it rained and the drops pounded the canvas, it's rhythms and the fact I was 'snug as a bug' provided me some of the best sleep I've known. On clear nights, the muted sound of my mother and dad talking late into the night as the fire crackled and embers lit the fabric screened windows soothed me.
     That particular summer we panned for rubies in North Carolina and dug for diamonds in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, Crater of Dianonds State Park, where I drank my first Dr. Pepper. I picked up a pocketful of Fairy Stones  in Va. at Fairy Stone State Park. I think we also saw the giant ball of string and other cool things, but it's the time in the car and around the fire and the hikes we took together that I remember best.

I remember excitedly making a list on our trips return about our grand family adventure, planning how to write my essay assignment. I'm sure I 'told' more in the writing than I 'showed'. The evidence is long gone but my memories remain. 

I wonder how many writers were born from such a simple school assignment?

For those of you that enjoyed road trip summers like my family: Take a look at these Rand McNally anniversary Atlas covers here. You might recall a few of them. (be sure to scroll down the page)
The links I have embedded here will bring back memories for many of you if you have the time to look.


Cleo Lampos said...

What a wonderful memory, Diana. Do you still collect stones?

Caroline said...


Diana Flegal said...

Cleo, every time I walk I put a few in my pockets. :-) Then I throw them in the flower beds around my apartment. I just do not have the room for them anywhere now :-( But a special one sits on my windowsill and I have two painted ones from Haiti- from when I lived there.

Linda Glaz said...

Sounds like you guys had lots better vacations than we did. haha

Diana Flegal said...

Linda, I had an idyllic childhood. Thought it was normal until I found out so many of my friends didn't have the same. I came from a strong Christian family- Amish background- My grandparents, aunts and uncles knew Christ and lived it out. So blessed. My trials have come since I've been an adult :-) None of us escape!

Linda Glaz said...

Oh, I had fun. I shouldn't have made that sound so bad, but a big trip for our family was camping just over the MI border into Indiana. But we still had fun. My mom set me up for body failure, I was so skinny, and boy do I mean skinny, I got to eat all the s'mores I could fit in. Now...well, we know how that worked out. :)

Linda Rondeau said...

Enjoyed reading this. Some of our day trips to my grandmothers house bring back a lot of memories. My father always wanted to take a "shortcut" that invariably got us lost. Only when I grew older did I realize his excuse for a shortcut was to find the newest fishing hole!

Ann McCauley said...

Diana, you played in my backyard! I am only an hour from Murfreesboro, Arkansas. :) What I wouldn't give to see you in person soon. Want to dig for diamonds again? Come on down.

Diana Flegal said...

Ha Linda, it does seem to catch up with us doesn't it!

I wish there were like buttons here in the comment section- Linda, that makes me smile- and yes Ann, we should arrange that trip soon. And to think now I drive through Franklin NC often, and live just a short trip away in the same state!