Labor Day week always reminds me of the starting school year and the end of vacation, even though those days are long past. One benefit of having divorced parents was two summer vacations. Mom and I generally took a road trip to somewhere within a day or two’s drive. I have some wonderful memories of the places we went. Lake George, NY and Storytown, which sadly now is a Six Flags and includes all the flash that goes with a major theme park. I was fascinated with the swan boats and somewhere there’s a picture of me standing in Storytown’s parking lot under a giant purple tissue-paper flower Mom got me as a souvenier. We stayed at a quaint little motor lodge near Storytown, the type of place that’s now probably a crack motel. That trip may also have been when we visited Howe Caverns. We spent a couple of vacations in the Poconos at an old resort. The cottages were cute, but the place was well past it’s heyday. The pool was ice-cold, as unheated pools in the north are. They had bingo and occasional dances, both of which were mostly attended by small kids or elderly folks. But to my childhood self, it was a 5-start resort. Another time we visited Hershey and Lancaster County. Mom remembered the Hershey tour from her childhood where they actually walked you through the production area. I guess food safety rules weren’t the same back then.
Catskill Game Farm was another place visited more than once, both with Mom and with Dad.
Dad’s first big trip with me was to Switzerland for my Nonna’s birthday in the winter of first grade. I cried nearly every night until we made a phone call home to Mom. It was my first real trip away from her and I didn’t handle the nights too well. After the call I was much better, but Dad waited a while before taking me on any other trips. I was fascinated by the stork refuge in Nonna’s village and the cobblestone streets outside our hotel room. I was both intimidated and thrilled by my non-English speaking relatives. Dad had to cut me off from drinking Cokes in the evenings, and let me have Fanta instead. Only years later did he realize it’s caffeinated as well. Every morning I thought it silly that he had to ask for cold milk for me. What kind of people drank room temperature milk?
Dad, Stepmom, and I also took vacations in the Poconos. The best ever was when we rode the Alpine Slide, which sadly has been removed (yet another theme park that had to keep up with the times). Our hotel had an indoor heated pool, which was heaven.
School season also brings back memories of the Danbury Fair. All schoolkids got a day off and a free ticket on Fair Day. I went several years with my best friend and her family. We were devastated when the fair was sold and later became a mall. During the summers when we slept with the windows open, we could hear the stock car races on Saturday nights.
School trips were to places like Sturbridge Village, the Statue of Liberty, and Boston’s Freedom Trail. One of my Brownie troop’s trips was to the Ice Capades (probably 1981 if I correctly remember the program – I loved mine and wished I could have a glittery costume).
I miss summers of running around in neighbors’ yards, riding bikes, summer camp, and swimming in the lake.