Saturday, June 28, 2014

SNGF - Summer Vacation As A Kid

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) It's summertime in the Northern hemisphere, and time for summer vacations for many people.

2)  Tell us about a memorable summer vacation when you were a child.  What are your memories of summer vacations with your family?  Did you travel?  How?  Did you visit extended family?  Who?

3)  Share your memories in your own blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here's mine:

I remember a number of summertime vacations.  Several were to visit family in other states, most notably the family in Louisiana.  They were so far away it took a major trip to visit.  Others were closer in South Dakota, so we visited them more than just summertimes. 

We visited Louisiana several times, but there are only two I recall, once when I was about 8 years old, and the other when I was just about 14.  As my birthday is in the summer, those would have been the ages I was advancing to.  When I was eight, I remember staying with my Aunt Eva in New Orleans.  It’s the only time I’ve ever visited the French Quarter.  I have very vague memories of some of the architecture and signage.  At that age, I didn’t get to really experience the whole New Orleans vibe.  No jazz, no Mardi Gras, etc.  I do recall one other thing, however, from that trip.  We went outside to the lake right across from my aunt’s place to look at the moon and stars.   Someone there had a telescope, and he let us look through it.  I don’t remember what we looked at specifically, but I was a space nut when I was a boy, and that fed right into it.  That trip was memorable for one other reason: my cousin Sharon Paulette McLin married Michael Andre.  I was supposed to be in the wedding, but at the last minute the little girl I was to be walking up with got cold feet or something and dropped out, so they dropped me out, too.  Michael and Sharon left for their honeymoon a couple of days later (we went home in the meantime) on their way to Michael’s duty station in Germany with the Army.  We found out shortly after arriving at home that their plane crashed in New York City (Flight 66) and killed both of them.

The trip to Washington, D.C. was when I was about 11 years old.  My uncle and his wife were both deaf, and both worked at Gallaudet College there.  We visited the campus one day, and saw some sights while driving, but spent most of the time at their house, playing in the pool and catching fireflies at night.  I remember getting stung by a bee on my finger while splashing in the pool.  My cousin Maria was 12, my cousin Ricky was about six months older than me, and my cousins Ray and Kathy were both a few years younger.  As my brother Mitch was about two and a half years younger than me, we had a couple of small groups we naturally formed.  This trip was memorable for another thing – we took the train.  My father, brother and I all three went, while mom did something else (I don’t remember what, maybe she went back to Louisiana to visit).  We rode the Amtrak Empire Builder out of St. Paul, MN all the way to Washington, D.C. where my uncle picked us up.  The trip took the majority of two days each way, and was interesting for a while as we explored the length of the train several times, but then got very boring.

One other vacation I remember was to the Black Hills area in South Dakota.  I don’t remember how old I was, probably 13.  We drove out, which took about 10 hours or so of driving time.  We stayed in a campground in the hills overlooking Rapid City.  It had a pool in which we spent a lot of time, and a net view of the city lights at night.  Last time I was out there with my family, we drove past that campground.  It’s still in operation, or was as of about 2007.  We didn’t go to a huge number of attractions, but we did go to Mount Rushmore and a couple of other attractions in the area.  This trip was one reason I wanted to take my own kids out there when I got my own family.  Maybe it will be a tradition they will continue when they also have families of their own.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2014 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 21, 2014

SNGF - Summertime!

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Summertime Fun as a Child
Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) It's the first day of Summer 2014, so let's talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.  

2)  Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12).  Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?

3)  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook or Google+

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here...

I grew up in a couple of places I can remember well, plus a couple more I can’t.  First, I remember living on a farm halfway between St. Cloud, and Foley, Minnesota, on State highway 23.  We rented an old farmhouse from the farmer who had built a newer house.  I was about 4 when we moved there, and almost six when we moved away.  Being that young, I had lots of free time to wander around and look at the cows and pigs, play in the dirt with my cars, and ride the farm wagons and other implements.  I remember riding along to bale hay, harvest corn, spread manure and pick rocks, for example.  I remember “helping” to feed the cows.  I remember swinging on the rope in the hayloft.  The farmer had a son about a year older than me, and we got along well.  We played a lot together.   I’ve recently heard that he now owns and operates that farm.

When I was almost six, we moved into St. Cloud, to a house on Breckenridge Avenue, right across from the railroad yard.  We rented that house for a while until our landlord decided he wanted to sell it, and my parents purchased it.  That’s where the rest of my childhood was spent.  My youngest brother is currently living in the house; my parents recently opted to move to an apartment and forego the lawn maintenance in summer and sidewalk shoveling in winter.

There were a number of kids on my block, and we played together more or less, depending on which kids were feeling “cooler” than others at any given time.  Most were older than me, and didn’t always want me around.  We played football beside the street, and kickball in the street.  We played variants of cops & robbers.  We rode our bikes up and down the sidewalks.   Certain driveways would be designated as having “stop signs” and we would have to stop, or the “cop” would give us a ticket.  No one had helmets or pads, and occasionally someone would fall and get a scrape, but generally there were no injuries. 

We rode our bikes along the rail yard in a wide swath of packed earth.  In fact, we played in and around the trains, looking for odd bits of stuff that would fall off the trains, like ball bearings more than an inch in diameter, or taconite (iron) pellets less than half an inch in diameter that made excellent slingshot ammunition.  We found stubs of flares they would use for directing train movements at night.  We found that the sulfur would burn hot and bright red, with choking fumes.  We weren’t supposed to be on the tracks, and sometimes would get caught by the railroad employees and escorted off the property.  We learned when it was likely we could get away with sneaking around, and when we should probably find other things to do. 

We biked other places, too.  All over town, really.  Down to the park, with the swimming pool in the summer, downtown to the library, although that was mostly later when I was a teen.  Across the highway on a railroad bridge to a wooded area where bike trails had been hacked into the undergrowth, and we could ride and jump our bikes for hours.  Over to friends’ houses to play with them, many blocks away from home.  We always knew we needed to be home for supper, and I don’t recall missing that mark too many times.

You might notice the missing element here – we had no video games, no computers.  We had a television, a color one, even, but the four channels we got over the antenna offered little choice in what to watch, and you watched what you wanted when it was on, or you missed out.  And you only had ONE television, so had to compromise on when you got to watch, especially as a kid.   The time period involved here was at the very beginning of what would be come home video game consoles and personal computers, and no one we knew could afford either one.   And by video games, I mean the likes of Pong, simple black and white back and forth tennis-style games and similar.  About this time Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were creating the Apple I, a kit computer that one could build if they had the skills for a few thousand dollars.  Phones all had those twisty coiled cords, and a rotary dial, because that’s what the phone company provided.  AT&T had not yet been broken up, long distance calls were expensive.  Some homes shared a phone line with other homes, known as Party Line.  If you picked up when another house was using the line, you could listen in to the conversation.  We’ve come a long way in technology!

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2014 by Daniel G. Dillman