Two little books my mom gave to me in 1956 when I was 3 1/2 years old, for our road trip with my grandfather and grandmother back to Chicago (where my mom was born).
Check the inscription in my mom’s handwriting in one of the pictures…
My grandfather used up all his vacation time every year to go back and help his mom – making repairs around the house, doing yardwork, etc.
My great-grandfather had built the house with his own hands, and out of all the brothers and sisters (some of whom came back to visit their mom) only my grandfather helped fix up the place and used his entire vacation to do it until she died in the mid-1960s. That has always inspired me.
This is the only trip we all made together. I have just one memory of the trip out by car – I moment, more like a photograph of me in the back seat playing with a toy telephone truck that had a remote control on a wire attached to a hand-flashlight sized metal cylinder with a forward button and a reverse button.
This was one of the first plastic toys available. Most everything was either die cast or stamped sheet metal in those days. And remote controlled toys in 1956 were virtually unheard of. So, I don’t know who loved me that much to get such a toy, but I do recall playing with it all the way there, though I only have one memory where I actually see it and the back seat.
I only have blurs of memories of the actual time in Chicago, but I know my mom and I flew back to Burbank, with my grandmother I think, and my grandfather drove back when he had finished helping his mom.
I also don’t recall the plane flight itself, though I almost do – there’s something blurry around the edges of my mind – more like half a feelings of waking up briefly, hearing the sound, my mom telling me it’s okay and go back to sleep, but it is so faint, perhaps that just my imagination filling in gaps.
What I do recall with certainty is that my Aunt Toots met us at the airport. In those days, you just walked down the stairs from the propeller plane and people met you at the bottom out on the tarmac.
We took a short trip to my aunt’s rather than to our house, and she made breakfast for us. I know this from a flash of memory at her house, in my mom’s arms, with the smell of bacon in the air and the sizzling in the background. Perhaps we took a red-eye? Don’t know, but in my memory it seems like it was dark at some point in all this.
Anyway, for me, having these books with my mom’s inscription is an amazing thing. I had completely forgotten about them until they turned up in one of the boxes I’m sorting this very morning.
My heart smiles