My parents really tried with us. Every summer we would pile in the car, my mom and sister in the back, my brother and I in the front, dad driving. Yes kids, back in the old days we had a bench seat and there was room for three people (sometimes more). I still do not know why I had to sit in the front when there was plenty of room for me in the back, but that’s for an article on middle child syndrome. Since those were also the days before GPS or Onstar, before we left for these trips we would go to the AAA office (Automobile Association of America not Alcoholics Anonymous, which I am surprised my dad didn’t need after these adventures) and we would pick up maps of our intended destinations. That’s right boys and girls, maps. Maps are large pieces of paper that come folded very neatly, but never ever look that way again, especially when your mother accidentally rips it when she is trying to figure out where route 89 is in Canton, Ohio (poetic license, don’t actually know if there is a route 89 in Canton, Ohio) because, according to my father (said in a very high volume): “I can’t drive and read the map.”
In any event, due to the fact that my mom was afraid to fly, our vacations consisted of driving all over this beautiful land of ours. My parents’ goal was to teach us about history, geography, art and music. I am proud to say that I have been to all 13 original colonies (thank God there were only 13). I am proud to say that I have been to Warren G. Harding’s house (he was a president, kids) and I am even prouder to say that my brother and I have slept in some of the finest art museums in these United States. We all wore matching horizontal striped shirts when we went to amusement parks (not a pretty sight) and my mom was totally out of sync when my brother threw up all over me on one of the rides and then we were no longer matching (of course no one cared that I was covered in vomit, but that is also for the article on middle child syndrome).
My parents schlepped us to the Philharmonic, Broadway shows and the ballet. We were going to appreciate culture if it was the last thing they did, and sometimes, when we were killing each other in the lovely Howard Johnson’s rooms we stayed at, they thought it was going to be the last thing they did…legally, anyway. But all these years later, and there are many that have gone by, there really is nothing like taking a road trip with your family…the earlier trips started with eight track tapes instead of iPods, CB radios instead of cell phones (I fondly remember passing the time 10-4ing different truck drivers…so not what my parents had wanted us to be exposed to…but how much Chopin can you listen to on one trip?!?) Memories that will live forever and experiences that still make us laugh to this day…because that is what family is all about. Whether you come from a crazy family, a reasonably sane family or a family that is made up of parts different than your own…it’s all about the quality time. May you all make amazing memories in any and every way that works for you.
Banji Latkin Ganchrow is a Teaneck resident and writer who enjoys traveling across the country by car with her husband and three sons. She is also the author of the blog holycrapimgonnabe40 and hopes to, one day, write a best-selling novel and appear on the Ellen Show.
By Banji D. Latkin-Ganchrow