Going to Grandma Overby's House.

When I was a kid, my family lived in Georgia, first in Augusta and then in Macon. Daddy's folks lived in Mississippi, near Meridian. I was a child during the 1940's and 50's. Daddy had bought a '37 Ford used and kept it in perfect running order. He drove trucks for living and became a mechanic from necessity. ( Our car was black.)

Fine ride, don't you think?

Then he bought a 1950 Ford that had been in an accident. That car he repaired and drove into the 60's. Ours was black, though I'd have loved to have the red car here.

Many of our readers won't know that those cars had windows we cranked open and closed and NO air conditioners. Daddy did all the driving, and we headed to Mississippi at night, when we could, to avoid the daytime heat and traffic on US 80. Mama didn't drive the cars for a long time. She just didn't.

We didn't stop to spend the night anywhere on these trips. Mama packed an ice chest with sandwiches, water, and sometimes Cokes. Back then we weren't familiar with fast food, and we lived too cheaply to stop at restaurants. I can count on one hand the number of times we did. I was grown before I considered that we were poor back then.

Mama and Daddy usually took the old crib mattress, long after they replaced the crib with youth beds, and put it on the back seat so some of us could lie down. The mattress was a little wider than the seat and could be used as a pallet at Grandmama's house. My younger brother and sister slept through the dark hours, but I leaned on the driver's seat and talked with Daddy while Mama slept beside him in the front seat. He and I discussed everything, including grammar when he decided to take the GED and go to college. I brought him up to snuff when I was beginning the sixth grade. I was a bit of a nerd before there were nerds.

By daylight the others would wake up and I'd stretch out and read to distract myself from car sickness, which seemed to come with morning. I'd read and wish we could stop the car! I probably was making a mistake by reading, but I loved to read, and who knew? Daddy's smoking probably didn't help, either. Again, who knew?

Sometimes I'd wish we could stop for food, but I knew the money wasn't there for extras. I also wished we'd stop where there were restrooms, too.There were picnic areas with wooden tables and trash cans and maybe a out house. Daddy preferred stopping in places we could slip out of sight and water the grass. (I'm not kidding.) We didn't use expressways because they weren't any for a long time. According to Daddy, country side roads offered cleaner places than the gas stations did at that time. He seldom let us go inside them before he checked them. He approved them for our use even less often.

We'd play games similar to cow poker. Daddy and my brother would read car tags and we would all claim stores, churches, houses and cattle as we passed them. I especially liked claiming horses. We didn't want to have a graveyard on our side of the road, because they erased the things we had claimed before that.

Mama, my sister, and I would put rollers in our hair so we'd look good when we got to Grandma's house.

We kids asked "Are we in Mississippi, yet?" a lot! We'd cheer when we passed the Welcome to Mississippi sign. Needless to say the males liked to stand in one state and aim over the state line to pee. The girls didn't try that.

Once we left Meridian, we counted every minute until we came to the dirt road leading to Grandma's house in Watubee, near Pachuta. The miles from Median were the longest and slowest of the trip until we stated back home.

Grandma's house was very old with a front porch and my grandma and sometimes cousins and aunts and uncles waiting for us.

More memories to come.

What are your memories of traveling when you were a kid?

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Mary Marvella


  1. Scarlet Pumpernickel // June 11, 2011 at 11:12 PM  

    MM, thanks for the trip down memory lane. I remember those cars! I grew up in the 50's and 60's but many of them were still on the roads. Fast food? Nope, no such thing. We would travel from west central Georgia to Slidell, LA and there were no McD or BB or KFC or any of the now familiar signs. There were local, mom and pop places. We didn't stop to eat, it was too expensive. Momma took sandwich makings and some kind of liquid she poured into plain water to make a sugary flavored drink. The one thing we did get was a rootbeer in a frosted mugg. Those were the most awesome things ever! Especially, because like yours, our cars had no air conditioners.

  2. Mary Marvella // June 11, 2011 at 11:20 PM  

    I don't remember when Kool-Aid came out, but Daddy didn't like it. The jug of tea didn't always taste good after 6 hours in the car, even in the cooler. Peanut butter and Saltines were my favorite foods for traveling.

  3. Barbara Monajem // June 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM  

    We used to sing a lot (my fave was Home on the Range) and play I Spy, and also we kept track of all the license plates from various states and provinces. And we did our potty breaks roadside, too. :)

  4. Mary Marvella // June 12, 2011 at 2:14 PM  

    So Daddy wasn't the only one. The males could "inspect the tires" and relieve themselves at the same time. We girls couldn't. I sometimes feared discovering poison ivy on my butt, or a snake headed toward me when I was squatting.

  5. Beth Trissel // June 12, 2011 at 5:57 PM  

    I loved this post MM which brought back many similar memories of old cars, no air conditioning, windows you cranked down, bagged or boxed lunches, tepid metallic tasting sips of water from my dad's Marine Corps thermos, & stops at picnic tables, no Interstate yet, if we were very lucky an ice cream cone at the Howard Johnsons. I always got strawberry and agonized every time about making a different choice, but that was a sure thing. We cherished those refreshing stops. And then FINALLY the drive over the dirt back roads to the old country homeplace where my grandmother, aunt, uncle and many cousins waited. What joy.

  6. Mary Marvella // June 12, 2011 at 6:43 PM  

    Beth, seems we share a lot of memories, especially the dirt roads. When I was a kid, we were all dream cycle/cream cycle addicts. The Augusta Dairy was a block from my house.(not a farm more like a plant) I got my single scoop ice cream cones there for a nickle.

  7. Hildie McQueen // June 12, 2011 at 9:08 PM  

    Great article Mary. I don't have any memories of a family vacation. But one summer Mom took us on the train for two days of travel to Guadalajara, Mexico. It was always a big event for us, different country, different foods and some great memories.

  8. Mary Marvella // June 12, 2011 at 9:23 PM  

    Wow, Hildie, I didn't leave the country until I was grown. We moved from Georgia to Mississippi, then back to Georgia. We made one trip to NY state my senior year on high school.

  9. Nightingale // June 12, 2011 at 10:09 PM  

    Being a car nut, these photos were great! I remember fishing in a gurgling river that washed over flat rocks, with my dad near the Cherokee Reservation in NC

  10. Mary Marvella // June 12, 2011 at 10:42 PM  

    Hey, Linda. I grabbed those photos because I don't have them scanned into this computer. When I see one of either model on the road memories explode in my head and my heart.

    My family wouldn't let me fish with them, 'cause I talked too much! They said I'd frighten the fish. Can fish here underwater? Snort!

  11. Autumn Jordon // June 13, 2011 at 12:54 AM  

    AH, Mary. I love this post. You have me remembering the good old days and smiling.

    I come a family of truckers too. I remember going with my dad into the NY market. We slept we the windows open. There were no sleeper bunks back then. Dad would lie across the two seats (with cooler in between) and I curled up on the floor. You certainly wouldn't leave the windows open now, much less take a child into the NY market.

    Gosh, the memories are flooding back. Thanks, lady.

  12. Mary Marvella // June 13, 2011 at 2:23 AM  

    Autumn, I'm glad you enjoyed my post. In a while I'll tell about my Mississippi grandma's out house and having only well water.

  13. Judy // June 13, 2011 at 7:25 AM  

    Fun post, Mary! I remember one summer my parents took my brother, sister and I to Washington DC (from New York State). We lived near the Pennsylvania/New York border and the moment we crossed into Pennsylvania, my sister and I asked how much longer? When we discovered we'd just started the trip, we wanted to go back home!! Thank goodness we didn't, because those memories of seeing the famous landmarks are still very much alive in my head!! And, yes, this was back when the car windows were open and there was no air conditioning!

  14. Mary Marvella // June 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM  

    Hey, Judy. Thanks for sharing your memories! Family trips were so important to our families. No ipods, just radios. I did have my books, though. We could still tell stories and talk to each other over the radio.

  15. Josie // June 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM  

    We didn't travel that much when I was a kid, but the most memorable trip was when I was 13. My parents took my sister and cousin and I to Shea Stadium to see the Beatles. Then, we drove up to Toronto to see the Beatles in concert AGAIN! That's a summer I'll always remember.

  16. Mary Marvella // June 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM  

    Joanne, your parents must have been cool to take you to see the Beatles TWICE and a long way away. I know you miss your dad, hon,

  17. Mona Risk // June 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM  

    We traveled in the big Pontiac station wagon with the back seat closed and the kids lying down on a matress. We played capitals of states and countries. Mom believed in teaching games. Lovely post Mary

  18. Mary Marvella // June 14, 2011 at 3:20 PM  

    Mona, we could have used that station wagon. My dad was a truck driver at the time and Mama was a stay at home mama. Even after Daddy went back to school, he and I talked while the others slept.