Driving vacations, when I was young, usually meant that the Mantovani's and the Fauci's climbed into my uncle Steve's Studebaker and headed out on adventures that made a child's eyes big as saucers as the sights flew by our windows.
As I look back now, at what I saw as an adventure, I often wonder how we ever managed it. Uncle Steve was the driver, my dad rode shotgun with me on his lap and my cousin Lillian sitting between dad and my uncle. In the back seat my brother and cousin Larry were sandwiched between my mom and my aunt Theresa. Seat belts had not been invented and laws about over crowding cars were years off.
Our trips took us to the White Mountains of New York sate, Santa's Village at North Pole, NY where we saw our first live reindeer, weddings, funerals and trips into Brooklyn for Sunday dinner with our grand parents.
My first injury was sustained in that Studebaker when my father accidentally slammed my thumb when he was closing the door. I can still see the little heavily wooded rest stop where it happened. My dad, gentle man that he was, was horrified and my mom handled me like a pro. We were back on the road in 30 minutes and I had learned a lesson about car doors I take to heart to this day.
My favorite place to travel was Greenwood Lake, NY. We rented a summer house there and spent many happy summers away from the city. Our fathers would come up on weekends. Swimming every day, berry picking for our morning cereal, my first trip to a drive-in movie, fresh vegetables everyday and just being outdoors in the fresh air was an amazing thing for city kids.
I believe that my cousin and I discovered that girls were not icky at Greenwood Lake, lol.
We were four children, with wonderful parents, living the American dream and soaking in every minute.
When life gets tough I look back on these times and find my smile. I can still see Lillian, Gary, Larry and myself, all four of us, sitting on top of a giant reindeer statue smiling from ear to ear.
I'm smiling now!!!