Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

Annual Father’s Day Trek

Monday, June 11th, 2012

By Jean Webster

The coming of Father’s Day takes me back to those days when we left our winter home in Sullivan County for our summer place in Maine. One year John insisted that (a) we’d take the kids out of school early (classes in New York ended in late June) and that (b) we’d leave on Father’s Day, head east, stop in Connecticut for breakfast before continuing our eight-hour trip.

“We’ll find some place to stop around Danbury,” he assured us. Stephen and Kim were so young then, they had very little say in the matter.

Just as though he knew we’d find his new favorite place near Danbury, there was a sign – “Father’s Day Breakfast, All You Can Eat, Ramada Inn.” Long tables were laden with serving dishes holding bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and more bacon. John’s food heaven has always been filled with rashers of bacon, which we seldom eat at home.

That perfect Father’s Day breakfast set the pattern for our annual trip to Maine.

And, every year, our car was stuffed with everything we four needed for the next few months. Clothing, especially for those kids who kept growing, so we couldn’t leave things to use the following year. Summer clothes, sure, but warm clothes too, because summer in Maine isn’t like summer elsewhere. Some people say it’s more like – well – winter.

In addition to the four humans in the car, we had Rocky, a shepherd-collie mix and Velvet, a Maine cat who was confined to a wooden lobster crate.  Big Vel didn’t travel well. He mewed. He barfed, he did everything you’d expect an animal to do in an unhappy eight-hour ride.

This trip included many stops – bathroom, walk the dog, clean out the cat’s box, switch drivers, more food, candy, drinks. We’d discovered that the best way to keep our kids happy in the back seat was with plenty of food and snacks. When they started whining or fighting, the non-driver would dive into the cooler or bag of goodies and toss something into the back seat.

Of course, we played all the usual games:  I spy. The alphabet game. The license plate game. And the “educational” game – 20 Questions.

Another favorite stop was an old Chinese Restaurant in Haverhill, Mass., where the kids found a couple of dishes they would eat. The ever popular Pu Pu Platter, with fried rice and some little pork slices. Not gourmet, but filling.

“Remember the Fudgeanna,” refers to a trip when the kids were around 10 and 7. We were at a Howard Johnson’s for our ice cream break, sitting at a big counter with other customers. The ice cream menu showed this giant square dish with four scoops of ice cream – enough for our whole family. Of course, sharing was out, so I said, “No, get something smaller – one scoop each.” A whine went up around the counter. My proposal was vetoed, not just by our kids, but by John and other people sitting there. “Oh, let them try,” someone said. It goes without saying that three-plus scoops remained in both square glass dishes when they quit.

After years of taking the same route, eating at the same restaurants, things became pretty tired. We started reading aloud to each other. Stephen and I were into fantasy and we read “The Hobbit,” then “Watership Down,” and “Shardik.” That kept us happy for a while.

The real change came when we added a second car. A Volkswagen Bug, which Stephen drove to high school. That split us up, and gave us room for more “stuff.” The most memorable trip in that period was Father’s Day 1979, during the Energy Crisis. Stephen and I were traveling in the Bug. It was Sunday, fewer gas stations open on the highway. I was concerned we’d run out of gas, so for a while we exited frequently looking for an open station. But we didn’t run out of gas, and we decided to just go on. It all worked out.

Life went on. The kids went off. We left New York to spend winters in Portland and five months farther up the coast. The trip is about an hour and a half, and we start transporting “stuff” early, so we’re ready to move in when it’s warm enough. Stuff today includes about 20 house plants, food, some warm clothes, and other items I can’t live without in any season. No dog. No cat. Just us.  Father’s Day is quieter, breakfast is blueberry pancakes or waffles, and calls from the kids.