Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yearning For Yesteryear

                                                                           
     

                                                                               

Recently I watched an earlier episode of Mad Men which took place at a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in the sixties. This brought back memories of childhood vacations. Our dad was vice president and comptroller for a large corporation that had a plant in Newark, Delaware. We spent many summers driving from Chicago to Newark at the Howard Johnson's where we enjoyed leisurely days at the pool, while our dad went to work.

Afterward, he would go swimming with us, have races, and take me for rides on his back. Our mom enjoyed sunbathing, and would occasionally walk in the water up to her knees.  We were warned not to get her hair wet under any circumstances. Children who accidentally splashed her were never seen again.

Our dad also delighted in taking us out for hot fudge sundaes, or the flavor of the month special at HoJo's.  Hot apple pie ala mode with chocolate ice cream was also a favorite he shared with my brother. We never made a visit without going to a barbecue hosted by his associate's family who became dear friends. 

The only downside were the long drives to and fro. I suffered from motion sickness, and never failed to have my dad pull over several times throughout the trip. In the meantime, my brother would be quietly turning blue with his legs crossed, and tears streaming down his face. All because he didn't want to ask our dad to make anymore unscheduled stops.

Our last vacation to Delaware was when I was fourteen years old. As an added bonus we drove on to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. It was a cleaner version of the one in Dirty Dancing. By day my brother and dad played a lot of tennis, in addition to swimming and playing volleyball with us. By night we went to see shows, or went dancing in a lounge with a live band. As always the vacation went by all too quickly.

Although our dad didn't feel well, he insisted on driving straight home like he always did. Mom suggested spending the night in a motel, or at the very least she would drive, but he wouldn't hear of it. Dad drove through the night, dropped me off at home, and headed to the hospital with my mom and brother. 

It wasn't until the next day that I found out Dad had a heart attack, along with latent malaria which he must have contracted in the Navy. Mom assured us he would be fine, so I didn't worry. My brother was smart enough to know better. This was Dad's second out of three heart attacks, and he was only forty six years old.  

One of our last family trips was when I was a high school sophomore, and my brother was a college freshman. My brother fixed me up with his friend who needed a date for a Naval ROTC formal. I could have taken the bus to Wisconsin, but Dad offered to have us stay at a hotel, and make a fun weekend out of it.

My dad probably wasn't feeling well at the time, but he never complained. He was so proud of my brother and delighted in visiting the beautiful campus, because he never went away to school. He also loved when my brother joined a frat, as he was president of his fraternity.

I had a great time at the Naval ROTC Ball, which my dad took pleasure in having been a Naval officer. More importantly, I enjoyed the family time that we shared. Sadly, I didn't realize how precious it was. Although he didn't say it often, these special family outings were our dad's way of showing how much he loved us. 


*A repost from the 2012 A to Z Challenge.

30 comments:

  1. He drove all that way after having a heart attack? Wow, now that's tough. He did provide some really great memories for you and your brother though.

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  2. Sweet memories. I used t get car sick too. And I was a waitress at Howard Johnson's.

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  3. Hi, Julie! I'm just getting to know you and you seem to be hinting that your father died at an early age. For that I am very sorry. My mother was only 76 when she passed away and that was also too young.

    I'm a big fan of Mad Men. (People often get me confused with Don Draper :) In fact, Mrs. Shady and I just watched an episode last night (the one in which Pete Campbell learns that wife Trudy has a secret life as a student at a community college). I remember the proliferation of Howard Johnson Motor Lodges. My family stayed at them and I remember having breakfasts, lunches and dinners at them. My mother was a lot like yours, Julie. She loved to sunbathe. Once an hour she would wade into the shallow end of the pool, the water barely above her knees, and rub handfuls of water on her legs and arms. That was her idea of "going swimming." It drove me crazy because I spent hours in the pool (you had to drag me out at dinner time) and most of the time I was completely submerged. Like your mother, mine dreaded getting her hair wet and ruining her perm. She constantly scolded me for splashing (aka having fun) too close to her.

    Happy Wednesday, dear Julie!

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  4. What special memories and a perfect time to record them for posterity and to share with others who absolutely remember those Yesteryears. I really enjoyed this read with your references to people, places and movies that were significant and unforgettable during the Retro Years. So funny about getting your Mom's hair wet...she was her 'Gorgeous' self back then, too. So good to look back and remember...sure does make one appreciate parents and the 'Way Things Were'. Well done for the Letter 'Y'.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    Minion for AJ's wHooligans

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  5. Your Dad was facilitating happy future memories for you. He sounds like a real Dad of his time. And what a strange time that whole era was, eh?

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  6. Sweet story, Julie.
    I LOVED the pancakes at Hojo's and we would usually go there after church (that is, of course, if the old man went to Mass with us). I remember one time going on Easter Sunday. My mom and sister's frilly Easter dresses and even the boy's spring-like outfits were a tad incongruous with the heavy snowstorm.
    But, the pancakes were to die for.

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  7. very poignant. I have fond memories of HoJos - we loved their chocolate chip ice cream - the best. Glad you have good travel memories with your dad and family despite motion sickness. (I had trouble in the back seat of the car too)

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  8. Alex - My dad was tough, though it's a shame he had to put himself through that.

    Arleen - Thank you so much!

    Natalie - What a small world! Howard Johnson's was the best!

    Shady - I don't remember the episode with Trudy going to junior college. Pete Campbell is great at getting under your skin. I could see you being the Don Draper type. Hopefully, you only share his smoldering good looks, and business savvy! Your mom sounds like she would get along great with my mom. I'm sorry you lost your dad. Thanks Shady!

    Sue - Yes, she was always "Gorgeous!" I'll pass this on to my mom when I see her today. I always enjoy reading about your childhood memories. Thank you, Sue!

    Julie

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    1. Sorry I threw you a curve ball, Julie. Actress Alison Brie simultaneously played Trudy Campbell on Mad Men and Annie Edison on the NBC sitcom Community. :)

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    2. Shady - No apologies necessary. I didn't realize she was on both shows. Thanks for letting me know, Shady!

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  9. Debra - He was a "real dad of his time." He coached my brother's little league team too. Thank you, Debra!

    Al - Their breakfasts and desserts were my favorites! It couldn't have been fun hunting for Easter eggs in the snow, but at least you enjoyed the pancakes. Nice memory, Al!

    Joanne - I loved the mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundaes! Every year my mom would say "Never again," because I got so sick; yet we would go through it almost every year. Thanks Joanne!

    Julie

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  10. It seems there's never enough time to share with those we love. Great story about your family trips and how special your dad was. You were very lucky. Of course, your mother is the most consistent character in your book. But you know that. I love her.

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  11. I remember this from the first time you shared it, and I remember the Mad Men episode that spurred your memories. I realized that my dad was still alive the first time I read this, but we lost him a few months later. Made this post even more poignant to me.

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  12. Julie,

    This might be my favorite blog of yours this year.

    I love that your mom remains consistent. I also loved hearing about your dad. He sounds so special, and I hate that you lost him too soon (even though there never is a "good" time). I can't believe he drove all that way after a heart attack and malaria to boot. He was tough! I think those vacations were really important to him, as you said, and he didn't want to ruin them in any way.

    He was a good dad. You were lucky.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    ~Robin

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  13. Hi Julie. I read your post this morning but needed to step away and collect some thoughts. They were trying to get away. That 'yearning' is contagious to those of us who remember true gifts of love. You certainly had me at 'hot fudge sundaes'; what I wouldn't give to split one of those again with my Dad or Mom. Your photo looks just like the one that's five minutes down the road from me. Yearning for Yesteryear- so bittersweet - our simple eloquent living. Beautifully shared.

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  14. Sounds like he was a great dad. I`m not surprised you yearn for yesteryear. We have visited quite a few HoJo`s over the years, I used to love their fried clam strips but they stopped serving them.

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  15. Lee - I hope that all of this is book-worthy one day! I just came from visiting my mom at rehab in a nursing home, and she'll be thrilled to know how you feel about her. Thanks Lee!

    Julie - I didn't realize that it's already been almost three years since your dad passed away. I'm so sorry, Julie. Hope your mom is continuing to do well. It's amazing how much you've been able to accomplish with everything that's been going on. Thanks Julie!

    Robin - I'm sorry you had such a traumatic childhood, and didn't share better times with your dad. My dad shouldn't have driven all that way in his condition, but I suppose he thought he was doing the right thing at the time. I'm fortunate he left me with so many wonderful memories. I hope to get all caught up with your blog in the next few days.Thank you so much, Robin!

    Dixie - I didn't know that there were still Howard Johnson's around. There used to be one near where I grew up, but they closed it several years ago. I'm so sorry that you lost both of your parents, Dixie. We really do need to cherish every moment we have with them. I'm sure they'd both be proud of the wonderful woman that you've become. I really appreciate your kind words, Dixie.

    Jo - They also had great french fried shrimp! Of course that was back in the day when we never worried about eating fried foods all the time. Thanks Jo!

    Julie

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  16. I appreciate your heartfelt post, Julie. Family vacations hold a special place in my heart too. As does Howard Johnson's. Thanks for bringing back memories of the HoJo's buffet (I think it was a buffet. I remember getting excited about all that food). I stayed at a HoJo as an adult, and it was so disappointing. I think it's gotten worse. Plus kids are lower maintenance than adults. Give 'em a soft serve ice-cream, and all's wonderful.

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  17. GEM JULIE ~
    This was such a good post on so many levels, beginning with the title and the cool photograph. I love that old style (1950s, '60s) architecture, and I've always been a sucker for A-frame roofs.

    Some of my best memories are of old family vacations, too. (Ours were usually in Vegas or Reno.) Very similar in some ways to your own. My Ma couldn't swim, so it was the shallow end for her, while my Pa was doing jack-knife dives off the board and having as much fun in the pool as we kids did. In fact, my Pa pretty much WAS a big kid, and that's no doubt where I "get it from".

    Great blog bit.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  18. This is such a beautiful post! It's remarkable that the smallest things can bring back the deepest, most-cherished memories. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Elizabeth - They really were "cherished memories." I hope my dad knew how much they meant to me. Thank you so much, Elizabeth!

      Julie

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  19. Robyn - HoJo's was much more than a soft serve ice-cream parlor. They had over twenty different ice-creams, as well as a "dessert of the month." This was a very big deal, as we went to HoJo's long before Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors came to Chicago. I think it's when I first fell in love with chocolate mint chip ice-cream. You're right about HJ's wonderful buffets. It's a shame you didn't have a good experience there as an adult. Thanks Robyn!

    Stephen - My mom also never learned how to swim, and somehow finagled a permanent pass from swimming in gym class. She wouldn't even get her hair wet in high school. Your Pa sounds like he was a lot of fun. I'm glad his good qualities rubbed off on you. Thank you, Stephen!

    Julie

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  20. Hi Julie - what a lovely poignant and sad read ... but you did your Dad loads of justice and gave him masses of love here through these posts. Wonderful that you have those fantastic times and memories - albeit you didn't know what was going on ...

    Good times with parents do bring back lots of memories ... while you continue to keep us amused with your mother's antics now - I love your story telling ways ... and the poems - they are great ... cheers Hilary

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  21. Really enjoyed this post as it took me back to those days. We often stopped at Howard Johnsons along the way on our family vacations too, although it seemed like we were always headed west not east. Our grandmother lived in Nebraska and we'd drive out to see her every summer. The image of your mother walking in her water up to her knees!! Oh how I remember the women doing that in pools and lakes, never to get their perfectly coiffed and sprayed hair wet in the days of bee hive hairdos!

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  22. The best parents are the ones who make the sacrifices in order to give their families the best lives they can make for them. I think this is something lacking throughout much of our society now. Your Dad had the right attitude. It's usually years later before we can fully understand the lengths that our parents went for us. Hopefully the good things parents do become a model for how the next generation should treat their own kids.

    Great memories to share.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Join us on May 4 with your post of Reflections about this year's A to Z.
    Tossing It Out

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