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Summer Views from Route 66 (Part II)

August 17, 2016


Summer Views from Route 66 and Other Travels in the 1950s and 1960s (Part II)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Baby books!  Are you thinking, “What in the world do baby books have to do with travel?”  After writing last week the first part of this now three-part series for my Wordwalk blog, I decided that I needed to do some double-checking of the years of our family trips in the 1960s.  My “reference” books for checking on family history are the baby books of my older sister and me, my mother’s address book (which includes much more information than merely addresses), and the family-tree book compiled by my Uncle Jules for our family reunion on August 4-6,  1995 (Colorado).  Fortunately, from one of the baby books, one of my questions was answered, other dates of travels were confirmed, and I discovered that my memory turned around the years for the trips which my family took in 1958 and 1959.  How I do appreciate all the notes my mother added to our baby books–after the baby and toddler stages of my sister and me!  Thus, once again, I urge you to keep in a special book (hard copy–not just a computer file) brief notes about the major happenings and travels of yourself and/or your family.  When you arrive at the “Route 66” stage of your life, you may be glad that you kept some notes about your family events; or even later, future generations may be most grateful that you tried to save a little family history.


After our family closed the 1950s with a trip to Indiana Beach (as detailed in my previous blog post of August 10, 2016), we began the new decade with another vacation at this beach along Lake Shafer.  In both 1960 and 1962, we enjoyed many activities at this resort which was continuing to grow and expand.  While swimming in the lake was still a daily treat, we played Skee-ball and Fascination each day to accumulate cards that we could later redeem for prizes.  In addition to window-shopping, we sometimes went inside the dress shops and souvenir shops to decide what purchase to make by the end of our weeklong stay.  Although I was not particularly interested in the “carnival-type” rides and games, the bumper cars became a new source of fun during the year that my cousin Carole joined us on our vacation.


An Indiana Beach vacationer  would walk across a bridge to go to additional attractions on a small island.  Near the souvenir shop on the island was where we watched the twice daily ski shows which fascinated us.  The young skiers put on an amazing show which we enjoyed again and again.  One of the highlights of the ski show was a young man’s flying over the lake–thanks to not only his skis, but also a huge kite.  Before or after the ski show, despite our never riding on the Shafer Queen, a two-decked paddlewheel boat, we always were pleased to watch this beautiful boat floating across Lake Shafer and reflecting the past.


During the vacation that Carole was with us, a new feature on the island was a set of trampolines.  Flush with the ground, these trampolines were a new and fun experience.  If I remember correctly, one admission allowed one to jump on a trampoline for a half hour.  Could the time have been that long?  Perhaps, it was just fifteen minutes.  Whatever the duration was, I recall that it seemed too short.  Fortunately, playing a round of miniature golf provided a longer period of pleasure on the little island.


While we were happy to return to familiar attractions each year, something new was also welcome.  Another new feature I liked was the antique-car ride.  At the time, these antique cars seemed nearly the size of real models.  With the entertainment of both old and new attractions at Indiana Beach, the summer days and evenings went by all too quickly.


In 1961, my dad had a much longer drive to chauffeur us and my Aunt Zita to our vacation destination–Florida.  Seeing the ocean for the first time, splashing in the Atlantic, and collecting shells as we walked along Daytona Beach were thrilling parts of our Florida adventure–before the opening of Disney World.  Besides seashells, we were so intrigued by the ocean that we took home with us one small jar of ocean water and a little jar of sand.  These bits of Florida graced the east window of our kitchen for at least several months after our return home.  Although we relished playing in the waves of the ocean, we swam much more in the large pool of the Castaways Hotel.  On this trip, we also saw beautiful Cypress Gardens and the Gulf of Mexico (at Clearwater).  No matter where we dined on this vacation, my Aunt Zita (who was then still the owner and chef of Binole’s Restaurant in Blanford, Indiana) carefully perused each menu; then, she would order what she ate almost every night at her restaurant–spaghetti!  Despite our encouragement for her to order something else, Aunt Zita never wavered:  undoubtedly, she was on a mission to determine how chefs in the South prepared spaghetti.  Once when she was nearing the completion of her dessert, my sister or I asked our aunt her opinion of the cake.  Her prompt review was:  “Too much baking soda.”  Yes, Aunt Zita was a most interesting travel companion–food critic or chemist.  Unsurprisingly, her older son became a food chemist!


For our longest vacation ever, Aunt Zita did not accompany us: she and my paternal grandmother cared for my Toy Manchester/Chihuahua Prince (who lived to age seventeen and a half years).  Leaving Little Prince for four weeks was difficult, but the journey to California filled us with wonderful anticipation and then memorable adventures.  On the way West, Dad took Route 66.  During our first day of the journey, Dad drove the furthest–618 miles.  Although we could not convince Dad to make many stops along Route 66, we did tour the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.  On one of my bookshelves, I still have two souvenir “rocks” which we purchased right outside the Petrified Forest:  these souvenirs remind me of that unusual place which does have an aura of prehistoric quality.  With little imagination, one can feel a part of the land where dinosaurs once roamed in what is, today, Arizona.


My father was quite proud–before any thought of GPS–to drive from our very small town of Blanford, Indiana, directly to my uncle’s house in Orange, California.  What a treat to spend so much time with our younger cousins Nancy (then, almost eight) and Kenny (age six).  Aunt Kay, a native Californian who had been a teacher and world traveler, helped us in planning many outings–some of which I will detail in the third and final part of this “Route 66” series of my Wordwalk blog posts.  So, please meet me here at Wordwalk next Wednesday evening for the final leg and log of our journey through travels in the 1950s and 1960s.  (In the comments section of this blog, please feel welcome to add notes about your own travels during these decades.)



Happy trails!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow (who, for her superior guide work since June 7, should certainly receive at least as many gold medals as Michael Phelps)


Post-script:  Thanks to my cousin Donald (younger son of my Aunt Zita) who reminded my sister and me of his fish story from our days at the cabin in the Wisconsin Dells, in 1956!  How nice when other family members can add to our treasure chest of recollections!


August 17, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Dear Alice,
    I’m so thankful that our mother was such a good keeper of family records, and I also appreciate how you weave those facts with your memories to revive the wonderful times in our young lives. We were so fortunate to have parents who were willing and able to provide us with these enriching experiences to broaden our knowledge of the world beyond our small Hoosier town. What great adventures we had on our many trips! Thanks for the memories!
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks for stopping to comment along Route 66! Next summer, we will be along I-70 for you!

      Smile–A & W

  2. Alice, I’m glad I’m not the only one who never liked a lot of those carnival rides. I enjoyed the carousel and Ferris wheel, but the rest, even roller coasters, were too wild for me. This became a source of friction between me and my mother, especially once when we went to our annual rodeo carnival, here in Sheridan, Wyoming, and Mother bought me and my younger brother each a $15.00 arm band that allowed us to ride any ride we wanted. After that, I dreaded outings to carnivals or amusement parks. I’m looking forward to Part 3.

    • Abbie–Thanks for commenting again! In Part III, you will read more about amusement rides–Disney-style.

      Talk with you soon–Alice

  3. Alice. You’re recollections of Route 66 take me back to our own family trips down Route 1 to Washington Cpounty, and to my birthplace of Lubec Maine. Summer fun, summer sea, summer food and family that seemed to reach to the furthest reaches of a kid’s never ending dream. Thanks for taking me back, and relax with the wonderful memories. dp

    • Deon–I wish Maine had been among the 38 states which we had visited. Thanks for your comment about your travel memories!

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  4. Alice. Your recollections have taken me back to our own family summer trips down Route 1 to Washington County, and to my birth place, Lubec Maine. Thanks for your vivid adventure, and thanks for sliding over in the back seat to allow me room. Wonderful memories are only a mile or two away. dp

  5. Alice, I enjoyed traveling with you this morning. What a treasury of memories you have and how fortunate that your mother kept records that guided you in writing this series. Those notes provide the missing pieces to a puzzle as we write about our early years with family and friends. Nice work, Alice.

    • Lynda–Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog when all of your creative endeavors are keeping you so very busy.

      Looking forward to the meeting which you will conduct this evening–Alice

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