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Monday, August 29, 2011

The journey or the destination?

From the time I was two years old, we lived in North Hill in Akron.  Most Sundays we went to visit someone for the day.  Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank in Richfield, Grandma Rolf in Cleveland, Grandma Cox in Cleveland, Uncle Hank and Aunt Flo in Parma or Aunt Helen Rita and Uncle George in Marlboro.  All the destinations except the last involved essentially the same route.

Our car until the late 1940’s was a 1936 Dodge coupe.  When my brother was born, Dad cut some stuff out from behind the front seat, and put a sheet metal bench across for me to sit on.  It was supposed to be comfortable because there was a six inch foam rubber cushion on it.  Adults never understood the sheet metal cut into the backs of legs.  When my second brother was born, my brother Walt went back there with me.  They never believed him either.
That car’s emblem was a ram figurine right at the front of the hood.  The ram had long, curved horns.  Uncle Hank sat on the hood, caught and tore his pants on the horn tips.  He went into Grandpa Rolf’s workshop, came back with a hacksaw and sawed the horns right off that ram.  That’s the car I remember.

Ours was black
Walt and I generally stood up in the back of that car.  If you sat down, the edge of the sheet metal was like a saw, or you stupidly braced your feet against the seat in front and were told “Get your feet off the back of the seat.”  (As a driver do you remember how awful to have a child kicking the back of your seat?)
So, it’s Sunday, I’m standing behind dad holding the edge of his seat, Walt’s standing behind mom,  Mel (the baby) is on mom’s lap in the front street.  Down Dan Street hill to Furnace.  The sharp turn under the railroad trestle.  Through Akron’s projects to Tallmadge.  Down Tallmadge, another two sharp turns.  Up the hill (now Memorial Parkway).  We’re waiting, waiting, waiting for Merriman Road.  Oh, the houses.  Walt and I each had a favorite.  Mine was totally out of place Spanish architecture.  I don’t remember Walt’s favorite.

Down again into the valley to Riverview Road, along the railroad track that had a crossing.  If there was a train going our way, dad would pretend to race it to the crossing.  Two little kids in the back seat, jumping up and down and screaming and mom in the front, “Now, John.”
Across the tracks, through Ira, through Everett to Everett Road.    There was a clay bank along the road, we stopped to fill a bucket with clay occasionally.   Through the covered bridge.  First you had to stop and be sure no one was coming as it was a one lane bridge.  My parents had an artist friend.  “Mary sat in the river and painted this bridge.”  What a mystery to decipher.  How could her arms be long enough to paint the bridge from down in the river?

Across the rickety rackety bridge.  Would it hold us up this time?  Would a wooden plank break in half and put us in the river?  Up Wheatly Road.  Old McDonald had the farm right at the top.  We wondered what animals would be out this time.  Down Hawkins, down Southern, watch for the drive way between two banks, we’re at Aunt Laura’s house.
I hope children still enjoy the journey as much as we did.


  1. How DID she paint that bridge? :-)

    Our trip was similar, in the mid-60's, a gravel road the last 20 or so miles in rural Minnesota, the station wagon bouncing, all three kids intoning "ahhhhhhhhhhh" to hear our voices shake on the bumpy road, all the way to Grandpa and Grandma's farm...