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Family Vacations — October Memoir Challenge

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

The October Memoir and Backstory Challenge hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan has a new theme for the coming week: Roots and Wings. Memories of home, leaving or finding it, and of travel or journeys.

My parents gave us “roots” by visiting my grandparents’ farms in Indiana once or twice a year during our childhood. Their original plan for “wings” were the frequent moves that my dad’s job provided. In the early part of his career, he specialized in setting up the first computer system at various plants for his company around the country. We lived in five different places before I turned 7. But, it was kind of like musical chairs, I guess. The place where he landed when the computer systems were up and running was the place where we stayed.

After living in Louisiana, Missouri for three years with no indication that another job transfer was imminent, my parents decided that it was time to work on “wings” by taking a big family vacation every two or three years.

The first was Out West. We drove that trip in a station wagon with a sign in the window that said “California or Bust.” The highlights of the trip were Disney Land and the Grand Canyon. This was June 1971, so I had just turned 9.

Two children standing with Mickey Mouse at Disney Land, 1971

Two children and father at Grand Canyon, 1971

We all enjoyed Disney Land, so when Disney World opened up in Florida later that year, we started plotting a trip there. We made it in June of 1973. We flew that trip, renting a car when we got to Florida. We spent some time at beaches and Cape Kennedy (now known as Cape Canaveral).

Two children in stocks, Disney World, 1973

Two children on the Dumbo ride, Disney World, 1973

Our final big family vacation was in June 1976, the summer before I started High School. That was the Bicentennial, so we went “Back East.” Our itinerary included Williamsburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and one day (not a night) in New York City. The National Air and Space Museum was a few weeks away from opening, but they had a lobby display so we were able to see a few things.

Two children and father in front of the National Air and Space Museum, 1976

The trips my family took were designed to be fun and educational and to give us a broader view of the country than we could get living in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi. Compared to other kids in our town, we were very well-traveled. When I went away to college, of course, I discovered that the descriptor “well-traveled” was more often attached to people who had been outside of the United States.

How much travel did you do as a child?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

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