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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father Far and Away: Part 1

When I was growing up, my family NEVER stayed in motels. Dad could not see spending a month's house payment for a few nights in a little room with two beds. We vacationed all across northern Michigan and Georgian Bay, Canada, but always stayed in tents, and none of our family road trips were more than a day's drive from home. By the way, Dad's definition of a day's drive was what he could do himself from dawn to dark with as few stops as possible.

When I was nine, we loaded up our VW bus and began a "day's drive" to a family reunion at my Uncle Roy's house in Lancaster County, PA. Our route took us across Ontario, Canada, to Niagara Falls. It was our first time to see this landmark and we ended up staying longer than planned enjoying both the American and Canadian side. Dad knew we could not make his brother's house in what was left of the day so he decided we’d spend the night.
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“Wow! Are we staying in a motel?“ I asked.

“We’ll see,” Mom said, and Dad shot a perturbed glance her way.
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Dad was a firm believer in not getting our hopes up, and Mom had a habit of raising faint hope with the words “We’ll see.” It was one of the constant but bearable tensions of our shared life.

I leaned over to Dave and whispered, “We’ll see means no.”

Dad did stop by a few motels while we waited in the car, but each time he came out with the dazed look he wore whenever something was not only out of our budget but out of the question. It was a look I did not understand at nine but would respect by nineteen.

That night the six of us slept at the far end of the parking lot behind Louis Tussaud's wax museum, which incidentally we never did get to see. “It’s just a bunch of people made out of wax,” Dad explained. [Years later as an adult, I paid the admission. He was right.]

Dad slept with his back to the door, feet stretched to the far floor. Mom curled on the front bench seat with her head against his chest. Kathy was on the middle bench, and Paul and Dave shared the rear bench with their legs sprawled in every direction. I was over the engine compartment in the back. Other than the fact that the prickly mat came right through my clothes, it wasn't a bad place to stretch out. In the middle of the night I woke to a single snore, peeked up at the silhouette of Dad's head leaning back like a PEZ dispenser, and fell back asleep.

It was not until ten years later that I stayed in a motel with my parents, but it was quite by accident.
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To Be Continued...

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9 Comments:

Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

This is a great start of what I assume will be another fascinating series. It is interesting what we take for granted nowadays was a rare event in our parent's time.

16/6/08 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be continued....always gives me just a bit of disappointment. BUT we'll wait to see what words you weave together.

As a kid my parents rarely would eat "out". I probably could count on one hand in "maybe" my first 18 years how often that happened. My mom couldn't see the point as it would cost too much. Her philosophy was it's better at home. While she was a fabulous cook..eating out was really a treat. I can remember only ONE family vacation and I was probably 4 at the time...my siblings were teenagers. We traveled to Northern Minnesota from our southern Minnesota home. We did stay in a motel (one time if I remember) and the place was pretty primitive. (this would have been in the late '40's). I think our parents were products of the depression and that reflected into their lives forever after. Don't be too long with our next installment!!!!! (smile)
WSL

16/6/08 7:19 AM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

hi Tom,

i agree with LGS; you have the most fascinating stories. while i was growing up, my family never stayed in motels or ate at restaurants. there were five children, so i know it wasn't too economical. my two younger brothers did get to experience some of those treats however.

my husband once had a volkswagan van like that, and when the engine blew, he sold it.

i'll be doing a new post just as soon as i get a little time. taking care of my 3 yr old grandaughter is a handful, a delightful one, but a handful nevertheless. we've taken a couple of pictures together that i'll post also.

16/6/08 3:06 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

We never stayed in a motel. We traveled by relative . We seemed to have a relative along every route we were traveling.

16/6/08 5:54 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Ohh la la. My parents must have wanted to give us continental manners as we grew up. They had us in HOTELS everywhere we went. They failed miserably if that was their goal.

I can't fathom 5 people sleeping in a VW micro bus...much less traveling with the putter putter noise of the engine...Your pops was an expert at doing what parents do...torturing the kids, ha ha ha ha ha haha ha haha

17/6/08 3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know why I didn't remember this. My DH and I didn't travel much in the early years but did begin little when our 2 kids were in middle school. A precuser to our mini-van was one that we bought that someone had "outfitted" for traveling--carpet in the back, refridgerator and storage, but no extra seating. It wasn't a VW but a full-sized van. We thought it perfect for traveling with kids.

One summer we were on a trip out to Hilton Head for a family conference but we were traveling on a "shoe-string". We were trying to drive through but that became impossible when we decided we were too tired so DH wanted to pull over and park in some parking lot overnight and sleep in the back. He had us and kids go into a filling station to wash up and brush our teeth etc. I wasn't very happy as I recall this now. We got back in the van and tried to get comfie! But this was the South in July and it was hot and humid! Soon DH decided "he" couldn't sleep so we found a motel (with "air") and got a room!! My DH is what 'some' would call frugal...I call him "squeeky"...you know, "tight"!! :-) Ah, memories!!! WSL

17/6/08 7:51 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Our dad's were related... we just haven't figured out how yet!!!! hehe They are both in heaven right now laughing, as we try to figure all of this out! No VW but lots of camping!!!! No eating out on the way either.

17/6/08 2:05 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

LGS,
This one will be short. 2 or 3 parts, but I'm glad you'll be here to read it.

WSL,
That is funny. I think I know why you hate seeing those words here... there is often huge gaps of time between my chapters. I'll try to post part 2 soon.

HC,
There seems to be a common thread here. I didn't say it yet but we almost never ate out. A few times in my entire pre-marriage life. Mom loaded the picnic basket and we made lunch at rest areas.

Dr. John,
Most my folks relatives were too close to home, but Uncle Roy live in PA and my Aunt Betty then lived in Indiana so we did do some of that sort of traveling, too.

TWM,
It was six (would've been seven but my little brother wasn't born yet). You got the sound of those engines right. Dad hated the lack of power in that VW. We owned it shorter than any other car in our family history. He traded it in for a 1965 Plymouth Fury II a year after this trip.

WSL,
That sounds like a "Hippie Van" to me. Did it have large flowers painted on it? =) Just kidding. Something tells me you and DH weren't hippies. By the way, I'm assuming DH does not stand for "designated hitter." =)

Nancy,
Are you back from the beach?

I think what we used to call "middle class America" used to be much more clearly defined by fathers like ours. =)

Part II coming!

17/6/08 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL on both comments!!!! NOPE we aren't or ever were hippies! Got married in the mid-60's (very young) and totally missed all of that hoopla! I did have the shorts (hot-pants they were called) and hi-boots though (and a picture to prove it..well actually it's on a slide). NOW, I'm dating myself! The van was blue...maybe a couple shades darker than the "Sign up here" (seen below). Now I remember, it was called a "conversion" van!! It was pretty cool though and we enjoyed it for a couple of years. Then the mini-vans came out and we got a used one of those! Our kids thought that was so "un-cool" of us to do that!!
LOL..again about DH--nope it's not designated hitter! Though back in the day it could have been! Dear Husband would be what it means...but maybe you figured that out.
WSL
p.s. So nice not to have to give weather up-dates this week. :-)

17/6/08 8:12 PM  

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