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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The way back from Camp Fitch



Cousin Camp, as my daughters call our house in the summer, did not originate with us.  Just carrying on an old family tradition, as some song goes.  Mom had six grandchildren, three of whom lived across the street and dropped in for a drink of water at grandma’s as often as at home.  The other three, my two girls and my niece, came for summers. This pensione arrangement was punctuated by other activities closer to their homes for the three girls. 

Our Lake County Y was my other resource. The big diversion for a couple of years was a week at Camp Fitch, a Y camp in western Pennsylvania, and about an hour east from the house in Mentor, straight out Interstate 90, then a few back roads to the camp.  I dropped them at the lodge on a Sunday afternoon and retrieved them the following Saturday afternoon.

Mom,  my brother Walt and his three boys were visiting one Saturday when it was time to get the girls.  So we all piled into my car, the Dodge Colt wagon, to go to Camp Fitch.  It was possible to fit five children and three adults inside that car, in a configuration that would have all adults imprisoned today.  They were kids; they didn’t know they shouldn’t like sitting cross legged in the back, playing cards for an hour, and signaling passing semi’s to blow the horn.

When the girls were stowed and we were heading out the camp gates, Mom, the queen of alternate routes, told Walt, the driver, take this road and that, not that road and this. We could drive home a short part of the way along US Route 20, right along Lake Erie.

Of course she had an ulterior motive.  In Conneaut, all of five miles from the camp, she told Walt “Pull in at that Dairy Queen®.”  She treated to ice cream all around; five kids and three adults, with ice creams, settled back for the rest of the trip. Walt headed west again, down US 20.  He saw the Dairy Queen® in Ashtabula first, pulled right in and filled up on ice cream again. 

 Five kids hoped they really were in ice cream heaven as we continued down the road. Oh, the speculation.  As we approached Geneva ten eyes were scanning the horizon.  “There it is, Dad!” “It’s just at the next light, Uncle Walt!”  Another Dairy Queen®.  Another round of ice cream.

I’m sure the grown-ups dropped out, but those five kids were up for it.  They found the Dairy Queen® in Painesville, and of course my two knew exactly how to get Uncle Walt to the Dairy Queen® in their home town.

The Great Dairy Queen® run became legend in our family.  All those kids in the Dodge Colt thought Uncle Walt was the hero.  I wonder if they remember Grandma Lytle started it.


Here is most of the gang, a year or two before the JGreat Dairy QueenJ Run.  Walt’s boys, my girls.  Roy, Beth, Grandma Lytle, Shelly, John, and Mark on Mom’s lap. I know this is early; Mark is too young to eat that much ice cream.  I think.

16 comments:

  1. Dairy Queen should recreat that run as an ad!

    Great story.

    Summers my grandparents had a house at the Jersey shore. THe third floor (attic) had three large bedrooms one had four beds. THe third floor was always packed with cousins. Not much sleeping, but great fun.

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  2. I remember taking trips with my four kids and two dogs in the back of the station wagon. I hate to think what would have happened if there had been a car accident. They would have been tossed around like rag dolls! Dairy Queen is an American institution. The very first Dairy Queen store is located just a few miles away from here near Como Park. They haven't changed it a bit. (The very first Target store is a few miles farther but it has been enlarged and changed from the original.)

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  3. I remember kneeling on the back seat looking out of the rear window hoping to get a wave from the driver behind. Mum and Dad used to put us to bed on the back seat of the car..PJs on, blankets and pillows for the drive home from Grandmas...if we were asleep we missed the fish and chip shops on route!!
    Jane x

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  4. that photo is one of the sweetest I have seen recently

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  5. It's good to loosen the rules once in awhile to make memories like that for our youngsters. As long as no one gets TOO large a tummy ache :) Great story! And, oh yes, I remember riding in the back of a station wagon once, facing backward, and wishing I could do that all the time. Little did we or our parents realize, eh.

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  6. We adore ice cream around here, but pick place called Goodrich instead of Dairy Queen. I get butter brickle, Liv gets lemon sherbet and Bing gets pistachio. It never changes. Ever.

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  7. kids will never complain about stopping for ice cream!
    grown ups too!

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  8. nice story!
    "signaling passing semi’s to blow the horn" I actually got to do that with MY kids on the road. I doubt it would work today.

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  9. In our family Sunday was called Grandma day because we never failed to visit the Grandmas on Sunday.

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  10. Such happy memories, enjoyed this post so much.

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  11. How amazing. I grew up with no extended family at all, so stories like this are magical. Thank you so much.

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  12. My goodness that's a lot of ice cream, been years since I had a soft ice cream, I do like the ones dipped in chocolate. Ha.

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  13. What a great story! I love the image of all those kids on the look out for the next Dairy Queen.

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  14. A Dairy Queen run!! I love the idea. Reminds me of a song...Beer run by Garth Brooks.
    A little like when i lived at Semaphore a beachside suburb in Adelaide. We'd walk down to the beach, get an icecream, walk along the beach to the next pier about 40 minutes away, then get an icecream at their kiosk and walk back again. Fun day Sundays.

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  15. Wonderful story. Now I miss DQ ice cream :D but just this afternoon, we were at the mall and my niece ate a small cup of strawberry and banana ice cream. Heaven was all over her face :D

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  16. Priceless, priceless story! This will be one of my favourites! My Husby has started a tradition that Grampa buys all ice cream. But he's never stopped more than once on the same trip. I think I'll let him read this. It might start a whole new tradition!

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