Vacation? What’s that?

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“Vacation was just a word to us Frontier Country people, like “rehabilitated” was just a word to Morgan Freeman (think “Red,” in Shawshank Redemption). People in The Community didn’t take vacations. There were too many “thangs” that had to be done, 365 days a year, not even to mention the farm work.
Frosty was a town girl. I asked her if she knew anybody in our hometown who took vacations. “One family,” she replied. Yes. They owned a store in town. They’d go to the beach each summer for a week, and the two beautiful daughters would come back looking like bronze goddesses, with beautiful beach tans, not like Turner’s Mill tans at all.
Daddy had been in the insurance business for several years. We still had the farm, of course. Daddy was the manager, the strategist. Every morning, before he started out on his debit, he’d lay out a plan, what would be done that day, always more than could possibly be achieved. The work would be done by me and (later) Jack and the current hired man or sharecropper. We decided, by golly, to take one of them vacations we’d heard about. My bachelor uncle Kelley, who lived about a hundred yards away with Grandma, volunteered to do the “thangs.”
Now, most people, when they go on vacation, will rent a house or condo or something on the beach or in the mountains as headquarters and branch out from there to see all the sights. We didn’t know about that. Our idea was to see how much ground we could cover.
We set out. We obeyed what every barn between Frontier Country and Chattanooga advised us to do: we saw Rock City and Ruby Falls. We saw graveyards and battlefields. We looked through a telescope which said we were seeing seven states. To tell the truth, they all looked pretty much alike to me.
We spent some time in Cherokee. I ate a rainbow trout. Not as good as Good Ole Boys catfish.
We took in Gatlinburg. We crossed the highest pass in the Smokies. We brushed by Knoxville, close enough to say we’d been there. We headed west. Everybody knows that the mountain ranges in east Tennessee run southwest to northeast. If you’re going that way, the roads are nice and relatively level. However, if if you’re going east to west, you do a lot of up and down and round and round driving. On a similar trip many years later, Frosty got sick. “Stop the machine. Stop the machine. Ugh, ugh.”
The tires on our almost-new Kaiser were Goodyear Super Cushions. Twenty-four pounds of pressure was the recommendation. Said so right on the tire. All the automotive experts said that was ridiculous. That, of course,  was the cool temperature pressure. The pressure would automatically go up after driving a spell. But I was a stickler for accuracy. If it said 24, by golly it would be 24. Every time we’d stop for gas, I’d get the attendant to bleed the tires down to 24 pounds. Those tires lasted about 8,000 miles, squealing pitifully, even in the slightest of curves.
We spent the night in Memphis, planning to get up early and go to the zoo. But when we woke up the next morning, it was coming a hard, steady rain that gave every indication of lasting all day, not zoo-going weather. So we headed home.
Pretty soon, it was back to the old grind, but we had been on a vacation!
My dog, Bounce, seemed happy to see us. Uncle Kelley had fed him loaf bread, slices of which were all around. “He won’t eat,” Kelley said. He couldn’t figure out why.  Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at bobbypsanders@gmail.com.

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