Grand Prairie, Texas, 1985

When I was 12 years old, I documented our biggest family vacation EVER… to Texas. At the end of last week’s installation, we had arrived at Dad’s friends’ house after nearly three days of traveling from the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area where I grew up.

#growingupinthe80s #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

So, what does a home in Grand Prairie, Texas, look like? I wondered as I stood up in the Calhouns’ driveway.

I don’t remember much about walking into Melvin and Billie Calhoun’s house for the first time. I did know not to expect any kids, as theirs were grown and out of the house. So that was disappointing. But Mom and Dad had warned us that they’d be no one to hang out with.

The Calhouns had a nice, simple, clean, rancher-style home like us. As you walked into the front door, the living room was right there in its pale green hues, with a light brown couch, two recliner type chairs and plants. Then there was a hallway that went back to the bedrooms. Amy and I stayed in a guest room.

Mr. Melvin Calhoun looked like the actor Craig T. Nelson, with the slicked back hair, smooth complexion, defined cheekbones, twinkling green eyes and perpetual smile. Mr. Calhoun was a little taller and lankier than Dad, but dressed similarly, in his summer madras shirts of various plaids and patterns, usually topped off with Dickies pants in khakis or navy blue. But unlike Dad, he sometimes wore his Wrangler jeans, a shiny silver “Don’t Mess with Texas” belt buckle and cowboy boots. He didn’t tuck his jeans into his boots, but we noticed his pointy toed shoes pointing out the second day we were sightseeing and thought it was very authentic Texan! He had a cowboy hat, too, a Stetson that he wore out with us sometimes.

And this Texan liked to talk! Whether he was telling a joke, talking to Dad, or all of us, this guy was just like Dad, so he met his match!

Mrs. Calhoun had short, tight curly brown hair with red highlights, and insisted on a large sun hat every time we went anywhere. She did not say a lot.

Mrs. Calhoun dressed slightly modestly like Mom in short sleeved tops and light pants or “slacks” as Mom called them. Just like Dad wore “Dad” pants, and Moms wore “Mom” pants. As in, both Mom and Mrs. Calhoun perpetually wore elastic waist pants in light blends of polyester in lilac or navy or khaki like their husbands, all from Sears and Penny’s, no doubt! They stayed away from straight up t-shirts, but had nice simple button down blouses like white eyelet lace trim or simple cotton short sleeved blouses for summer they’d wear on our daily adventures.

On the other side of the hallway was a family room type area with a sectional and a big T.V. I remember Amy and I sitting around watching M.T.V while waiting to see what we were doing for the day. The popular videos in constant rotation were Everybody Wants to Rule the World” or “Shout” by Tears for Fears.

Our vacation this week would indeed include visits to local landmarks and attractions, but also fun at-home nights of Billie’s delicious cooking. Really, some of my fondest memories of our Texas vacation were uproarious, large, family card games dealt by Mr. Calhoun or Mr C., the likes of which I’d never experienced in our family. The game was called Scat.

To be continued…

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