Days of Summer and The Open Road

This story was first published in the July 2010 issue of Ebony Magazine.

There was only one day during summer vacations in the mid-1960’s, that I was happy to wake up early. That was the day in August when Mom got us out of bed in the pre-dawn light for The Family Road Trip. My father loved the open road and exploring sights unseen. We all got to share in his adventures.

In the weeks before the journey Mom would sew summer outfits for us girls. The night before, we laid out our clothes and went to bed early, excitement making it hard to get to sleep. But we were up before the sun because Daddy wanted to hit the road before morning traffic. A quick breakfast, leave the dishes – we didn’t even have to make our beds. And then the car or camper or whatever we had that year, was loaded up, the windows open to the August dawn and we were off, leaving the south side of Chicago behind.

Mom was the navigator. Dad the driver. I was the youngest with two older sisters and our brother, the eldest. The Dan Ryan Expressway would be nearly empty, as if the road belonged only to us.

During my childhood we traveled east to Niagara Falls and the New York Expo and north to Montreal, Canada. But it is the trips out west that I remember most.