Looking back at great memories of summer
By Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
No, not Christmas. I’m talking about the family summer vacation.
I have so many great memories of our family vacations. Whether we were going to Connecticut to see relatives, or to some “remote” beach my parents had discovered, it was truly always an adventure. I can still laugh out loud at many of the antics and occurrences.
There was the trip to Ocracoke Island, N.C. Oh, it sounded glorious. Not so, it turned out, for a 16-year-old girl who always kept an eye out for a “cute boy.” There were no cute boys, but there was a ferry boat to the island, which made me queasy. There were also thousands of sand fleas.
Daddy had bought a summer hat that went down in family lore as “the Ocracoke hat.” Oh, my sister and I hated that hat. We did everything we could to hide it from him, or to “ruin” it in some way so it couldn’t be worn that day. Once, we put it into a cooler full of icy water.
Daddy got back at us for that, you can be sure. The next morning, when we went to put on our bathing suits, there they were: floating in icy water. There’s not much ickier than climbing into a wet, frigid swimsuit. Oh, how we laughed. There was something else memorable: When we loaded our many belongings into the Pony Island Motel, my mother began putting away groceries. Opening the cupboard, she called out, “David! Come look at this!”
Tucked in the cabinet was a handgun. Not something you’d usually find next to the cereal. Daddy, a lifetime law enforcement officer, took charge of the weapon. He always carried his gold badge and his own weapon. “You just never know,” he’d say.
Before too long, a knock came upon our door. Daddy moved us to the back of the room and opened the door to find two unsavory characters standing there, trying to look menacing. Well, no one could look as menacing as my father, holding a pistol and flashing a gold badge, sporting his Ocracoke hat.
“Forget something, fellas?” he inquired.
“Uh … no … wrong room. Sorry,” was the reply. The unclaimed pistol was then turned in to local authorities.
The trips to Connecticut could be fraught. Daddy did all the driving. He drove for a living as a state trooper. Pipe gripped firmly in his teeth; we passed every car on the highway. Mom read the map (remember those?). She could never get it straight, or folded right. And she’d say things like, “Why don’t we stop at such-and-such? It’s only an inch out of our way.” We never stopped at such-and-such. Daddy was hell-bent on arriving at our destination. I can’t count the number of Stuckey’s we’d pass. I always wanted to stop. But no. Mom had packed picnic lunches — which we ate as Daddy sped along the turnpikes.
I caused a calamity as we arrived at my grandmother’s house. Granny’s nephew, Jack, was sitting at the table, eating a big steak. By his side was a large German shepherd named Husky. I bent down to kiss Jack hello and Husky, who thought I was grabbing his portion of the steak, bit me in the face. So, as soon as we got there, we were off to the hospital. Some vacation!
I hope your own family’s summer vacation is filled with better memories. Enjoy these wonderful times, when the whole family is together sharing an adventure. And I hope your adventure doesn’t include forgotten pistols and mauling by an angry German shepherd. But even those can be funny in retrospect.