Small Beginnings: Join me for a nostalgic trip down memory lane

Lisa Schappell

This weekend we took a ride in the car. It wasn’t an all-out road trip. We had a destination not too far away, so it was just a drive; just hubby, myself, our daughter and the dog. As we enjoyed the sultry summer scenery in Schuylkill County, my daughter and I ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ as we passed by fancy homes with pools and landscaped yards and wonderful curb appeal. There was even one home with a snazzy full basketball court complete with an artificial surface that even impressed my husband. Our drive was fun and it launched me into memories of my childhood when gasoline was so cheap that getting in the car and riding aimlessly for the afternoon was not something you had to plan specifically for in your budget.

It makes me feel old to say this, but things were quite different when I was a kid. There were no seatbelt laws and some cars didn’t even have seatbelts. If your vehicle was equipped, often the seatbelts would be stuffed down into the back crevices of the seat so they wouldn’t get in the way because no one seemed to really use them. I’m not saying that was necessarily a good thing, just observing that it was much different. When we would go on a car ride with just my family which was four of us, my brother and I had the back seat of our old Impala all to ourselves and we would have loads of fun. Beings it was a larger sedan, the back window had a ledge of sorts that we would take turns crawling up onto while the other one of us would stretch out in the back seat. The best part was going over a bump or around a turn that would throw the one on the window ledge off balance and onto the other one on the seat. Hilarity would ensue.

We would also often grab our grandparents to run around with us on our little trips and then one of us would sit on the armrest up front and the other would stretch out across the laps in the back. It was usually ladies in the back seat and gents up front, so I would generally be in the back with my Mom and my Nana. I remember taking my shoes off and sticking my feet in Nana’s lap and my head on my Mom’s lap. Nana always made a big fuss over my stinky feet and that made me laugh like crazy. We would also play this silly game that wherever we would travel, Nana would watch for a rundown looking shack to point out and say, “There’s a house for Lisa!” and then it would be my turn to watch for an even more decrepit looking building that was falling in on itself to point at and say, “There’s a house for Nana!” I found a little cabin while we were driving this weekend and shared this little game with my daughter. It’s funny how important that memory is to me and how wonderful those simple childish games now seem as I am growing older.

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Another funny game I recall my parents playing with my brother and I as we drove around, was The Quiet Game. This genius invention created by some stressed out mom no doubt, apparently saved my mother’s nerves on more than one occasion. While driving along with us kids carrying on in the backseat, there would inevitably come this moment where my parents could no longer stand our carousing, so my mom would invoke The Quiet Game. This game involves having the children sit silently for as long as humanly possible, each one trying to outdo the other in duration. I’m certain we did not last that long at any one round, but the beauty of it was that we could always be challenged to improve and surpass the other child’s best time. There’s nothing so creative and underhanded as tricking kids into settling down by making them think they are beating one another in a contest. I don’t know if the Quiet Game ever yielded long term results, but it may have saved my parents’ sanity for a few miles along the way! Good memories and good times!