Recently, I was asked about my vacations when I was a child.
My childhood vacations lasted one day. Mom and Dad could not afford to take their four children anywhere by plane or train. But they could afford one-day trips by car to places such as Heart Lake, Ontario, Gravenhurst, Ontario, Port Dalhousie, Ontario, and sometimes Toronto Island. Trips to these places involved having picnics and going swimming. Sometimes we would go to Buffalo, New York, to visit my Aunt Alice and Uncle Bunch.
(Everett was his real name. I never knew why everyone called him “Bunch.” I had an Uncle Bump, too. So there was Uncle Bunch and Uncle Bump. Uncle Bump was my father’s brother. Uncle Bump’s real name was Hubert. When Hubert was 9 years old, he was hit by a baseball bat while playing. The bump on his head stayed a long time. His nickname lasted a lifetime.)
Aunt Alice and Uncle Bunch had all kinds of candy in dishes on their coffee table. Would there have been fewer trips to the dentist if we never visited Aunt Alice and Uncle Bunch?
Dad had a 1959 Pontiac Station Wagon. It was the minivan or family car of the time. Men owned station wagons for their families, or were plumbers or electricians and needed a station wagon for their businesses. (I grew up in a time before there were female plumbers and electricians.) My grandfather insisted that his son’s station wagon was a truck. Grandad said that is what they called such vehicles back in Jamaica.
We would pile in the back of the station wagon. At that time, seatbelts were not mandatory. The back seat of the station wagon went down, giving more space. In the back of the station wagon, what fun we had fun traveling to a place where we would have more fun!
We would stay all day at our one-day-vacation spot until after the sunset. That is when Dad would start a fire so we could roast marshmallows. Then came time to leave. The four of us would fall asleep in the back of the station wagon during the trip back. It was magic how I fell asleep in the station wagon and woke up the next morning in my bed. I had no memory of how I got from the station wagon to my bed. Magic? What else could it have been?
I never felt deprived not going to Disneyland or any other place involving getting there by plane or train. I accepted that those trips or vacations were for rich people, and we were not rich. Our one-day vacations, along with the car trips to get to them, were fun. That is all that mattered.