Thursday, March 18, 2010

Did You Have A Memorable Vacation As A Child?

Did You Have A Memorable Vacation As A Child?

I have been very fortunate to have had many, many memorable vacations as a child. From tossing tea into Boston Harbor to driving from one end of Texas to the other to taking a train from the east coast to the west coast. Many, many memories. So many, that I think I should save them for another time.

Instead, I will share with you the memorable vacation of my grandmother, Dorothy Beth Hollingsworth, as told in her own words. The main cast of ancestors include Dorothy, her brother Ken (or Kenny or Kenneth), her mother, and her father Glenn. Also mentioned is Ted, who would later be her second husband.

1929 Family Trip
by Dorothy Beth Hollingsworth

In the summer of 1929, I was nine years old and Ken was seven. Something exciting was about to happen. Our family was going on a six-week camping trip and Daddy was packing all the equipment we needed for this adventure.

A heavy canvas tent (no nylon fabric then), tent poles, tent pegs and ropes were ready to be tied to the top of the car. A double sleeping bad and double cot for our parents, two single cots and sleeping bags were for Ken and me. A two-burner Coleman kerosene stove and a Coleman kerosene lantern were also packed. On the running-board of the car, an aluminum ice-chest held ice, milk, cheese, butter, eggs and fruit or other perishables. Boxes of cornflakes, shredded wheat, crackers, bread, salt, pepper, peanut butter, canned tuna and canned beans were stored in a carton. An essential item was a bucket for carrying water when we camped. Clothing for four people, soap, washcloths, towels and toothbrushes were other necessities. We took maps, books and a notebook for keeping a record of the trip, which was my responsibility. With some items stashed in the small trunk of the car, others were tied on top of the car and on the running-boards.

As the work progressed and was almost finished, Ken said to me, “I wonder how it feels to go to another state. I’ve only been in California.”

As an infant I had lived in Arizona for five months, of which I had no memory. After considering his question, I answered,

“I don’t know. Maybe there’s a fence or a painted line across the road. Let’s ask Daddy.”

Daddy laughed and said, “There’s probably a sign that says Welcome to Oregon. We’ll see when we get that far. Now, go in and ask Mother if I have to squeeze anything else in or on this car!”

After all the preparations, we were finally ready. I wish I had a picture of our vehicle loaded as it was!

Our trip started east toward San Bernardino, then north through the mountains, including the “Grapevine Grade” which was a challenge to any car in those days. The highway was two-lane with many curves, not like it is now on Highway 5. We carried water to fill the radiator as necessary. We stopped for gas at the top of the grade, then went on to Bakersfield. I don’t remember where we camped, or all the people we visited. Some people and places I do remember. From Highway 99 we drove west to Hanford and spent the night there. We had breakfast at Aunt Nellie’s (Grandpa Hollingsworth’s half-sister) and Uncle Elmer’s. I mainly remember the ham gravy, as my Daddy thought that was the best! In Lemoore, we visited Aunt Nellie’s sister, Bertha, and went back to 99 working our way north and east toward Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite was so different then. It is so crowded these days. It is still beautiful, but some of the things I remember no longer exist. For example, we camped near the river in the valley. There were other people camped in tents, too, but not very close to us. Every night the Rangers took all the garbage to one spot and the bears came to enjoy eating their nightly treat.

Every night after dark, there was a wonderful sight! It was better than fireworks! The only place it happened was in Yosemite. The Rangers made a fire on top of a mountain (maybe Half Dome?) with only a special kind of wood, native to the area. The fire was not visible from below. From the top, a male voice called out:

“Le-e-e-t the f-ire fa-a-a-all,” with a call that was almost like a song. I can still hear it, but can’t describe it in words. As the voice called out, the fire fell. It was so impressive, people “ohed” and “awed” as they do seeing fireworks today. These days we would call it “awesome.” It was awesome, and is still a vivid memory in my mind.

After Yosemite we drove on to Sacramento and saw our California State Capitol. That was impressive. Next we went west to San Francisco. I remember the beautiful views of the bay, but my most vivid memory is of riding up the hills in our car. It seemed as though I were lying on my back. Yes, it was scary!

From San Francisco we traveled on north to Eureka, where we visited a lumber mill. I never forgot that. I was fascinating to see the tree trunks being made into lumber. (In the 1980’s when I was there, it was much more automated than in 1929.) Some place along the way we visited the Redwood National Forest. I’m not sure but it could have been there we camped in the rain. The next morning I had eleven mosquito bites on one arm. Any time it rained, we were careful not to touch the tent. If we did, water started dripping down on us from that spot.

There was a sign as we entered Oregon, as Daddy had expected. Ken and I observed that Oregon looked just like northern California. Ashland, Oregon was always in our memory because of the delicious Bing cherries. Ken and I are cherries and had contests to see how far we could spit the seeds. I think he won. Another memory was the Rogue River. As the dusty two-lane road followed along beside it, we became accustomed to hearing,

“Glenn, please stop.”

Mother got out each time with a washcloth in hand, ready to dip it into the sparkling river, wring it out and climb back in the car. She held the cloth over her nose and mouth because of all the dust in the air.

Crater Lake National Park is my next memory. What a blue, blue lake it was! At that time, no one had been able to measure its depth.

I have since crossed the beautiful Columbia River and ridden along beside it, but have no memory of it as a nine-year old.

Mount Rainier National Park, I DO remember. We went up a winding road, parked nearby and saw a REAL glacier. That was very impressive. As it melted, the water running from it was white, not clear. Chunks fell off as we watched. (I have learned since then that this is called calving).

We went on to Seattle, a beautiful city with hills like San Francisco. My next special memory is crossing the border into British Columbia, Canada. We were stopped at the border briefly, and then we were in a different country! We no longer saw the Stars and Stripes. How strange that felt.

Daddy had a friend who lived in Vancouver, British Columbia. She had taught with him on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound near Seattle in 1917-1918, his first year of teaching. She and her husband had retired in Vancouver, B. C.

We had a pleasant visit there. Ken and I enjoyed looking at pictures through a stereoscope. (We called it a stereopticon, but Webster’s Dictionary doesn’t define it that way now.) The main thing I remember is how the Canadians talked, saying, “The weather is great today, eh?” with an “eh” at the end of many sentences. This seemed very different to us.

Back in the United States, we headed east over the Cascade Mountains and down intot he desert-like country. Mother had a cousin who lived in Spokane. The gravel road between the mountains and Spokane was dreadful. Daddy called it a “washboard road” and that was truly what it looked and felt like. There was no river along beside it either.

Cousin Gene Ashton was probably Grandpa Ashton’s cousin. He was tall and handsome and had wavy white hair. He was an excellent singer, and Mother was a proficient singer as well. They had fun singing old songs as duets. I don’t remember much about Gene’s wife, but they grew strawberries in their backyard. We were allowed to pick them and have strawberry shortcake for supper.

Many years later in the 1980s, Ted and I drove our motorhome across from Spokane to Seattle. I was amazed to see all the crops growing on the eastern side of Washington. Grand Coulee Dam had changed it completely. Wheat, barley, corn and other crops were covering the land that had once been parched before that enormous dam was built.

The Great Depression of 1929 began only two months after our return from this wonderful trip. I shall always treasure the memories I have of this time our family had together, with Ken carrying the water bucket, Daddy setting up the tent and cots, and Mother cooking. I helped when needed and kept a daily record of our travels in three states and one province of Canada. Our family trip in 1929 was educational, fun and memorable. I think it also taught me what a joy it is to travel.

- Numerous facts were gathered from the private Richard Family Estate collection. These facts span numerous sources of information and contain genealogical data, photos, and newspaper articles.

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