Riding In The Car With Daddy
When I was a kid, my father liked to take us all for a ride in the car.
Gas was cheap then.
We’d drive up to the airport and watch the planes take off. That was exciting in the fifties. None of us thought we would ever get in one.
Sometimes we’d go out after a big rainstorm looking for huge puddles to drive through. Or we’d drive out to the countryside and count cows.
On a summer evening, if we spotted a searchlight, we’d go track it down. Somehow this was fun.
Every week after Church, we’d go to Sunday Dinner at my grandparents’. My mother’s parents were immigrants from Poland – my Babci and Dziadzi (“bah-chi” and “jah-ji” for those who need a phonetic hint.)
They lived in a cold-water, toilet-down-the-hall, tenement in the Polish enclave in New Britain, Connecticut. But I loved their apartment–the wringer washer, the treadle sewing machine, the clock that ticked awesomely loud, the exotic smells of Polish food–none of which I touch at that age. And of course, there was the fact that my Babci bought us comic books and Hershey bars.
The drive to Babci’s didn’t take long, we only lived about ten miles away. But to me, the ride was endless.
We all had our places in the car. Daddy drove of course, and Mom was shotgun. My two older sisters each got a window in the back seat. They got along pretty well, but not in the car. Nobody got along well in the car. I don’t know why Daddy liked piling us in there so much.
My baby brother sat between my sisters. There were two reasons why he got this spot. First, my sisters needed a fence. And second, neither of my sisters would sit near me.
That left the spot between Daddy and Mommy. This was back in the days of bench seats and no seat belts. I was a skinny thing, and fit in between them quite nicely. I loved being close to them. I thought this was the princess seat. My mother thought of it as insurance that I wouldn’t act up.
There was a huge drawback in the princess seat. My Dad’s cigar.
I was prone to car-sickness. I inherited that tendency from my mother. I remember my little brother calling excitedly from the back seat, “Look, Mommy, look!” and Mom answering, “Tommy, I can’t look at you. It makes me sick.” That made us girls happy for a very long time. (It still makes me happy, just thinking about it.)
Well, I was car-sick pretty much all the time. My father would break out the cigar at the same time he turned the key. This may have had something to do with being the Man. The car, the cigar. It’s what daddies do.
Ten miles was about my limit. I would be pretty woozy by the time we hit New Britain. You can see by the picture above that I was a little grayer than everyone else.
If we went further than ten miles, my father usually had to stop the car so that I could throw up.
Motion Sickness is something most kids outgrow. But not always. I threw up on a business trip.
Reverse is hard for me. Just getting out of a long driveway can be a problem. My husband warns me, “Hang on for one more second.”
Looking back on those nausea years, you may ask why we never just asked Daddy to put out the cigar.
It never occurred to us.