Words and pictures from the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries
Sunday, April 20, 2008
A Sunday Drive
Let's go for a ride! What a long time since I've heard that! Present day gas prices and environmental concerns make driving around just for sight-seeing a slightly guilty pleasure. But back in the late forties and early fifties, the Sunday drive was a tradition in our family. We didn't have to go far to get out of the Tampa suburbs and into the country where there was a tannin-stained quiet river with white sand banks and tiny darting minnows -- the perfect place for wading. Or a field with a gate and a horse (known in our family as 'Vicki's horse')that would politely take a carrot from an outstretched hand. Sometimes we went to Jack Holmes Landscape Nursery and wandered about the jungle-like rows of sub-tropical plants while my parents pondered a small purchase for our yard.
There was no radio, back-seat TV, I-Pod, Gameboy, or the like but somehow we were entertained. I think once I had a pin-wheel I could stick out the window and watch turn. And there was, of course, the timeless game of making sure your sibling didn't impinge on that invisible line down the center of the shared back seat.
In the early seventies my grandparents were still going for a Sunday drive. They would drive out to the house my husband and I had built on a lake in Odessa, not far from Tampa. Their big Oldsmobile would creep up our sandy drive to stop by our garden. A honk of the horn and we'd come out to greet them. Our dog Juno would dance excitedly around the car as they emerged, barking a joyful welcome. My grandfather would reach into his coat pocket, pull out the wax paper-wrapped scraps left from his lunch, and dole them out to the dog who sat expectantly before him. Then my grandmother would come into the house for a visit while my grandfather put the dog in his car and took her for a ride, as he'd done during the three months Juno had lived with them while my husband and I toured Europe on a motor cycle.
Eventually we did what was best for everyone. Juno went to live with my grandparents where she could be spoiled all day long, rather than being left alone while we taught school. And she could go to ride everyday. And my grandfather had 'his' dog back.
(Our dogs love to ride but have few opportunities. This was for a hurried trip down to the mailbox, one mile, round-trip. They loved it.)
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