Friday, July 8, 2011

Welcome To Paradise, Kornbread Jr and Tater

We were city folks. We went on vacations every year, but they were city people vacations. Or learning vacations. My parents would go on searches for our learning vacation spots. More specifically, my mother.  Every year had a theme. American History at it's finest. Sometimes we went to the beach. But that was rare. And we seemed to spend more time at the pool than we did the actual beach. So, while I learned a lot growing up, riding the roads with my folks, it wasn't the kind of fun a teenager really wants to experience.

From the ages of fourteen to seventeen, I had some of the best summer vacations of my life. Vacations that were spent with my best friend Debbie and her family. Her very large family. I'll admit, the first year I was invited, right from the get go, I wasn't so sure this was gonna be my bag. They didn't stay in hotels. With air conditioning and television. Or running water and electrical outlets. Outlets that were needed for hair dryers and curling irons. They camped. In campers. Old timey campers. The kind that are tiny and cramped. And hook over the cab of the truck. The kind that if more than two people are standing in it, it's one too many.

But I was ready by golly. Ready to experience the wilderness at it's best. On the beach. Not just any beach either. No sir. No houses on this beach. No hotels. And only one store. Back in the late 70's, you could actually camp on the beach itself. You could drive on the beach. And people did. There was an actual camping area, but the first year that I was invited, we, slept on the beach, in a tent. On the ground.

Now let me back up a bit. Me, my best friend and her Dad always went up a day early. He would drive the truck, (of course) and we would ride in the top of that camper. Way in the top, lying on the bed, with the windows rolled out and the wind blasting our long hair in every direction imaginable for the better of three hours. Talk about some tangled up knotted hair when we got there! Whew! Tears would come to my eyes trying to comb all the knots out! We would laugh and sing and giggle about how many cute boys we were going to look for. There were no cell phones. Oh my, what did we ever do without texting and talking to anyone and everyone but ourselves?! We survived and we loved it.

I always knew when we were half way there. We came to this old timey looking place with a pretty town square. A big old courthouse sat right smack in the middle of the streets and big pretty trees lined the lawn. Sometimes if we got hungry, we'd climb down and make us a ham sandwich. Man, talk about having to have your sea legs. Making a sandwich in an old truck with a camper add on ain't easy. It sure wasn't no luxury liner! We'd finish eating, and climb back up, faces into the wind, counting down the minutes.

We always stayed a week. Never eating anything but what we brought with us, or caught fishing. No where to go, no matter how hot. No sleeping late. Well, you could. If that sunrise didn't wake you up! If you could stand the heat bearing down on your tent on that hot sand in the mornings. Everywhere you turned, all you could feel was sand and heat. The only relief from the grit and the heat was that warm salty water. Which we stayed in more than we stayed out.

The only place to shower was the public showers. With that wonderful smelling sulfur water. Cold, stinky, sulfur water. Whew washing your hair and body with rotten eggs. I can remember washing my hair with Suave Strawberry Shampoo, and straining to smell the sweet smell of those strawberries when I was done.

Our "treat" was walking up the road to the only store and getting a bottled Pepsi Cola and a bag of chips. Well, that's what I drank, my best friend always drank bottled Dr. Pepper. Plus it was the only place to go for a piece of heaven...air conditioning!

No such thing as sun screen back then. Not like now. And surely no 50 spf's had ever been heard of...our skin painted such a brown, you would strain hard to remember our skin when it was pale. We did meet a lot of cute boys. But rarely saw the same ones from one year to the next.

What wonderful memories all of those summers are for me. And who would have thought, out of all that, I would re-experience a part of that when I got older. That I would ever see that little town with the pretty town square almost every day of my life.  The sense of deja' vu was crazy incredible the first time I came here to look for a home for me and my boys. I lived here in Quincy for almost a year before I understood the connection.

This week my son will be visiting that same vacation spot. He's been there many times before with my parents and friends. But only for the day. And now, it looks so much different. It has hotels and houses galore. But the beach is the beach, the sand is the sand, and the pretty girls, are still the pretty girls. He won't have exactly the same experience, but I have no doubt, Kornbread Jr and Tater, will have the time of their 16 year old lives this week. My only hope is that they hold onto those memories in their heads for a day that will come along years from now. So that they too, can sit back, smile, and remember "the good old days".

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

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