Clever kids of my era would time their bathroom break demands with the proximity of the next Stuckeys. Why? Well, my dear, you had to go through the gift shop to reach the restrooms and although you may have had to dash in, you could take up to the end of your parent’s patience to saunter back out past all the delightful souvenirs. With a little luck or a lot of whining, the least you would come out with was a pecan roll to be shared with parents and siblings.
If Stuckeys wasn’t on your immediate route, you watched for the Howard Johnson’s signs and begin to salivate for one of the 28 flavors of ice cream. Dad would stop for gas to fill up the old blue Plymouth and fill up the kids with a sugar fix. “Well, hurry up and decide, dammit. I want to get to Aunt Flora’s before dark.”
On the way to or from, you had to pass at least one “See Rock City” ad emblazoned across a barn. Being first to spot a barn with the famous sign was part of our back-seat game, but now I can’t remember exactly how it was played or what the prize or consequence was.
And just to keep things lively and everyone awake, there was always a sing-song chorus as we rattled off the Burma-Shave shave signs in time to the soft bump-bump of the tires across the big, modern two-lane highway.
To kiss a mug
That's like a cactus
Takes more nerve
Than it does practice
And who could return home without one of those fabulous chenille bedspreads? Most were displayed on long ropes slung between trees with bamboo poles propping up the ropes to keep the spreads off the grass and waving enticingly to passing motorists. Some of those 1940s and 50s bedspreads are still in use. Finding one today to buy is still possible, but the price now would have paid for our whole trip, or maybe even two, then.
So which is better, the slower, stop and go, road trips of our childhood, or today’s zoom-down-the-highway-in-half-the-time? Hard to choose. Childhood trips included open windows in the summer to dry the sweat and cold hands and toes in the winter, so today’s autos are much more comfortable. On the other hand, the scenery of yesterday was constantly changing with plenty of farms and dairy herds to admire. Today’s interstates are easier to drive with ample service exits and rest stops. But still it would be nice to stop for a pecan roll and plastic alligator with bobbing head, or double scoop of fudge ripple now and then. Oh, sure, I know those and many more treats are still available, but somehow they just don’t have the same magic as that we hold in our memories.
Fun sights/sites to visit:
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