Our little bungalow in a suburb of Cleveland, home during those Wonder Bread years.
(Photo taken in 2007.)
The tradition for our family started a long time ago, and maybe even before I was born right after WWII when gas rationing ended. When I was a young it was common practice to go to church, eat Sunday dinner, clean up and hop in the car. I had no say in where we went but that was fine and I loved the surprise of it. Mom and I would inhabit the back seat if a grandparent was going with us. Mom tells of how Grandpop Kelly loved a drive and when I was an infant she'd put me in the back seat to nap and we'd all drive somewhere. Grandpop would see something, get excited, and yell out, "Look, Gin! Look at that!!" (Mom's name is Virginia but back then a lot of people called her Gin or Ginny.) And of course I'd wake up when he shouted.
As the seasons changed the drive route would too. In spring we'd find daffodils and tulips in people's yards and look for blooming fruit trees. Then out in the country we'd go look for wildflowers. It's still one of my very favorite things to do, look for wildflowers. Now my trusty guide to San Diego county wildflowers is a permanent resident of the front seat.
In summer we could wind up anywhere! A lake, a forest, a park to picnic. I remember a Sunday drive to a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome. (Just goodled this and find it was probably the ASM Headquarters.) That was fun.
But fall was my absolute favorite when the leaves on maple trees changed and were aglow in orange and red. We were living in Ohio in a suburb of Cleveland so there were plenty of healthy maple trees to entertain us including one beauty in our front yard.
Of course winter meant holiday lights on houses so we'd sometimes go out later when it started to get dark looking for the best house with the most lights. After a snow, and Dad was a good driver on snow, off we'd go all bundled up to see what nature had done. When I was old enough to drive, one Sunday after a snow Dad took me out to an empty shopping center parking lot. He put me in the driver's seat and told me to floor it. When we spun out he then explained what had happened and how to steer into the turn to get control back. Cool!
For years there was a place stuck in my memory bank that no one else remembered, a place we'd drive to on a winter's night to see the lighting display put on by the electric company. It was a beautiful park setting anytime of year but when the lights were on in winter with the snow all around it was pure magic for this kid! But no one else remembered a thing about it. For a long time I thought maybe I dreamed it up... but I could remember the name of the place clearly enough: Nela Park. I googled as soon as Google became a thing and no Nela Park. Then magically one day it was there! The listings and photos on Google Image gallery witnessed what I remembered. If you want to see Nela Park click here!
Yes, Sunday rides were really nice. Here's hoping you had some similar memories too.
The year is 1956 and that's Grandpop Kelly and my baby brother.
I'm holding him on my lap sitting on the front steps to our little bungalow in the Cleveland Burbs.
You can see Dad taking the photo in the reflection on the front storm door window.
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