I was very blessed by this family who took me in and made me study, and learn and look outside of myself. They also loved to travel.
When Grandmother and Grandfather had their 50th Anniversary, They took all 16 of us on a cruise to Bermuda. How beautiful that was. The pink sand, the colorful buildings, and the mopeds. One memory of the trip that stands out is when we went on a picnic. The adults, 18 and over, rented mopeds and us children got free rides. We found a tiny park where we ate and watched our 2 year old cousin be a 2 yr. old. I remember that we all had sunburns from the day before. Then someone put an ice cube down the 2 year old’s back. Being a bright child he retaliated and put a cube down his mom’s back. Then his eldest aunt called him over, seeing her opportunity to teach her nephew some new fun, and gave him a cube and whispered in his ear. The 2 yr. old innocently walked over to a cousin who was talking and not paying attention and put the ice cube down his back. It was on! soon everyone was putting ice cubes down each other’s backs, laughing and howling, running around just having fun. I had never experienced this type of family. I loved it!!! What none of us loved was the pain we were in afterwards. Grandmother and Grandfather were on the ship watching the 14 of us walking up the plank like we had starch in our shorts and chuckling. Our sunburns were flaring up due to all the fun we had shoving ice cubes down each other’s shirts.
That winter, Grandfather died. He and some other people had contracted Hodgkin’s disease, from a hotel in the Virgin Islands, which neglected to clean the filters of the air-conditioners. I remember when they came back from their trip he was coughing a lot. Four months later he was gone. So the Next summer, our family was planning a cross-country trip. We bought a CB, a mattress for the back of the station wagon (for napping), and a “ex-cargo” bin to put on the top of the wagon. We also decided to encourage Grandmother to join us, since Uncle Michael had to stay home to work and could not join us for a week or two. So, we started in NJ, went north to NY, then headed west, hitting all the great states and stopping only at big historical places like the “Big Mac” bridge in Michigan, Mount Rushmore, SD, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Cody, WY where we picked up Uncle Michael from the airport. We talked to truck drivers and one even hit on Aunt Judy. He asked, “what’s your handle little darling?” she answered counselor. He said “like you could counsel me?” and she answered, “No, Counselor as in 4 kids and my mother are with me.” Dead silence on the CB and roaring laughter in the wagon. None the less he asked to meet us at the next rest stop so we did. Turned out to be a very nice man who thought it was really funny too and had to see for himself who he had been talking to for a few states. We learned our states and their capitals along the way. It took 4 weeks to go from NJ to the west coast and back to NJ.
That fall, all 15 of us went to Hawaii. I don’t remember much. I did not know it at the time but I went through a depression during the trip. One of my many goals in life is to go back.
Due to that Hotel in the Virgin Islands getting sued by several families who lost loved ones due to their neglect, Grandmother came into quite a bit of money. Instead of just giving us money, she took us on elaborate trips. Like when she took some of the family to Israel and Germany. I had a chance to go but I was still not out of my depression at those times so I figured if I wasn’t eating here I wouldn’t eat outside of the country. Then there was the trip to Alaska. Cousins were getting married so we had more people. We went on a tour of Anchorage and Juno. We had a snow ball fight in short sleeved shirts. We went to Vancouver then took a cruise to Seattle. It was fun. In ’88 we went to Africa. That was the best. We had to have 9 shots before we went then take Malaria pills while we were there but it was so worth it. The people, the animals, the experiences, it was all just great.
There were more places that I have traveled to but there is not enough time.
Traveling is one of the best educational experiences that any child should have. You learn how to behave around others, you learn about yourself, your family, and your state/country. I pray that more parents travel this beautiful country with their children or nephews/nieces. Technology can not replace experience and memories.