Summer vacation means different things to different people. It might be a trip to a theme park or a week-long stay at the beach. Many people use that extended time to visit relatives, a car trip for shorter distances or a plane ride to farther destinations.
When I was growing up, summer vacations were alternately spent going to Buffalo,NY or renting a vacation cottage in Ocean City. I didn’t like Ocean City at all. Being fair skinned, I would burn quickly and they didn’t have all the concoctions they have today to prevent it. I usually hit my mother up for a few bucks and would spend the day on the boardwalk playing arcade games. Mom would put a T-shirt on me but that never sufficed. Besides the burning sun, the water always smelled of iron at the cottage, and the streets would burn your feet. No, there wasn’t a thing I liked about Ocean City. After two or three days, I would usually beg to come back to Salisbury where I would hang around with my grandfather. Pop was home because he didn’t like Ocean City, either.
Every other year, we would take our vacation to go to Buffalo, NY. All my father’s relatives were there. He had moved here in 1939 with Martin & Schwartz, but wanted to stay in touch with his family. The total trip was 435 miles and took two days. Anybody that has traveled with little children knows what I’m talking about. The two highlights of the trip were Route 896 from Bear, DE to Lancaster, PA. It was 35 miles long, and Pop would always try to make it in less than an hour. My sister and I loved it when the old Ford would lurch over the little bridges that frequently were encountered along this stretch of road. The other entailed getting past Harrisburg, PA on Route 15. Somewhere on this part of the trip, Route 15 traversed the river, but Pop never seemed to find the right way and we ended up lost.
Our stop-over was always in Sunbury, PA. Pop determined it to be the half-way point, so that was our destination for the first day, coming or going. I remember one trip in the late 1950’s where we were in Sunbury and went to a movie that night. It was a double feature and both films were in 3-D – a phenomenon at the time. Since both of them never came to Salisbury, I was envied by many of my peers upon returning home.
I always liked the trip to Buffalo. My relatives always made sure we went to Crystal Beach, Canada, where they had an amusement park. It was nothing like Disney World, but, to a small boy, it was a total wonder, with a roller coaster and a fun house.
Once, when I was about 3, I left my Teddy bear in a restaurant. When it was finally discovered, I was inconsolable. So much so that my father had to drive back almost 100 miles to placate me. I still have that bear. Teddy might be threadbare and one-eyed, but he brings back many a nice memory. I got him on my first Christmas in 1943, so he rightfully deserves his place of honor in my corner cabinet. His memories of summer vacation probably include the time he thought he had been abandoned.