On Our Way to Texas, 1985: Part 2

Did you write when you were a kid? I did! Check out my humble beginnings…

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I documented our first family vacation in a travel journal, a cute little 3”x 5 ½ notebook that I’d gotten for Christmas that said Susan all over it in yellow and white (where did Santa find this?) with a little pencil design. Adorable! I wrote: “My Trip to Texas”  on the opening title page. (see photo; also, actual excerpts from my 12-year-old self in quotation marks lol) On our 2nd day of travel, we awoke and prepared to leave our first overnight stop, Knoxville, Tennessee…

Wednesday, June 26, 1985

We were “up and at ‘em” early again – departure time of 5:49 a.m.!

7:24 a.m. we stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast, or : “I had a waffle, sausage, and milk.’

Then there’s two and a half hours before my next entry. What did Amy and I do in the back seat? I’m sure we had a book or two, some magazines, but I also know that we were just plain bored sometimes. Hard times, the 80s, without devices to play games on or watch movies and T.V. shows…

“10:55- stop for gas and rest”

“11:20- stop for lunch at picnic site back on road 33 mins later. I got a free map of Tennessee.”

Hmmm. So that would’ve been mildly entertaining! Except we were about to leave this state…

“1:18 p.m. “Just went over the Mississippi River and into the ‘Land of Opportunity- Arkansas!’ (Another big step for mankind).”

And that evening around 4:00 pm, we stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas for our reserved rooms at a La Quinta hotel. Or as I said in my journal:

“Real nice and cool! With a pool!”

We swam a little, went to a Denny’s for dinner, then took our prized K-Car to a car wash. It was weird. Dad ALWAYS washed our cars in our driveways and it was uncomfortable standing around one of these open garage places where you feed the meter and use the hoses. Dad had a clue about it, but even he was frustrated- “Damnit!” when the water or suds ran out more quickly than he could apply them. Finally, the Reliant was “good to go” again.

We went back to our room, and as was tradition for Mom and Dad, they played rummy.

Or: They had a deck of cards that they’d taken on all family vacations, and Dad wrote down the places and dates as a record of where they’d played on the white box. They’d taught me how to play last year. So we sat around the little table and played, the three of us. I actually beat Dad, but Mom won, so it was cool not to be in last place!

Thursday, June 27, 1985

7:43 a.m.: departed

10:00 a.m.: stop for breakfast at Mc Donald’s. “I had hotcakes and sausage.” Hotcakes. Not pancakes. Hotcakes. Pretty much says it all. They’re even sweeter than regular pancakes that Mom makes at home. Then you drizzle the tiny packages of syrup all over them, cut them on the Styrofoam plate with the white plastic utensils. I think I actually enjoyed this disposable, greasy experience! Kids!

10:29 a.m.: “We’re in texas- the lone star state! finally! The last state line to cross on this long trip! (getting there)”

This was the longest car ride of my life! Still, today, I’ve never driven or ridden anywhere close to this distance. (approximately 22 hours and/or 1400 miles from Lanham, MD, to Grand Prairie, TX)

12:12 p.m.: “We stop for lunch at Trunk’s cafeteria (IDK). Talk about butter and meringue! My piece of pie was good!” That’s Mom’s quote on the butter and meringue. Mom taught me the difference between meringue and whipped cream or some sort of whipped cream topping on cream pies. Basically, in her opinion, custard pies such as lemon meringue or coconut cream were not worth their salt unless they had real meringue topping as they were supposed to. Anyone could make a whipped cream or a type of cream topping afterwards, but meringues are hard to bake.

I guess we all have our hang ups.

I remember once, Mom failed trying to make a lemon meringue or coconut cream pie with meringue at home. The meringue “fell” or burnt in the oven. And she remembered that. I did, too. So, her appreciation of it done well expanded exponentially.

Either way, I wonder what the heck my 12-year-old self thought or felt about besides food. I mean, what else is there to talk about? But things like digital cameras weren’t even invented yet, so it wasn’t like I could take pictures from the back seat. Did Amy and I each have our own Walkman’s? I think I had a black one that tuned into radio. Amy had a real one that you could put a cassette tape into! I remember it was expensive and she took really good care of it. Mine was black with a simple dial, but hers was a grey Sony.

Either way, we rolled into the Calhouns— Dad’s old buddy from the Air Force, Melvin and his family— just a couple of hours after lunch:

“2:58 p.m.: “we’re HERE! 222 Morgan St.”  



  1. I wish I had maintained a journal that would remind me so many forgotten as well as memorable anecdotes from my childhood. Great for you that you can revisit your childhood through these 💟😀

    Liked by 1 person

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