Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Summer Family Car Vacation

"In Going and Coming (1947), ..... Rockwell shows how the proliferation of automobiles after World War II helped to create a new type of family vacation. (left: Going and Coming , Saturday Evening Post cover, August 30,1947, oil on canvas, 16 x 31 1/2 and 16 x 31 1/2 inches, © 1947 Curtis Publishing Company. From the permanent collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust)"

I love this Norman Rockwell painting. My wife has a "Rockwell" calender on the wall over her office computer and this is the calender picture for "July." As a kid in the 1950's some of my favorite memories are of family car vacations to places like Yellowstone National Park and to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My dad and I did not have a lot in common but we both enjoyed a good road map and would spend time together plotting out our trips. As a kid I had a little cardboard suitcase where I would store all the road maps. I loved "roadside attractions" such as The Sea Lion Caves, The Prehistoric Gardens or the old ghost town of Calico.

Now that our kids are adults I miss our summer car vacations where we would take the kids to places like Yellowstone or Mt Rushmore. My favorite trip was when we went to Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border on our "Southwest trip" with stops in Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, and Old Tuscon Studios. Yes, the picture of me above under "My Profile" is from that trip to Monument Valley. We also took trips to Seattle and Victoria Canada and of course to Disneyland and University of Oregon football Bowl games. My only regret is we should have taken more car trips. I always had the dream of a cross county trip. My guess is I would have enjoyed it more than the family.

If you look closely at the picture you will see "grandma" in the very back seat. That reminds me as a kid my mother's uncle, "Uncle Herman", would often accompany us on our car trips. Uncle Herm liked to chew tobacco and one night we stayed at a motel in southern Utah and he could not find a store that sold chewing tobacco and he was ready to take a bus out of there so he could get to a place where it was sold. Herm would sit between my sister and I, in the back seat, to keep us from fighting. He loved cameras and was always taking pictures.He always wore a hat like the dad in the picture above. Yes, the picture brings back lots of memories.

For fun watch the Chevy Chase movie National Lampoon's Family Vacation for a very funny satire on family car trips with a lot of truth thrown in.