“This is Peggy Barbour Straughen and I am on my way back to Ohio from a family reunion and I thought I would report some of my childhood memories of my grandparents. As I am speaking of this, I am now 60 years old. Let’s see…”
My grandmother grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, living for a time in Shippensburg but growing up mostly in Chambersburg. In 1997 she recorded a tape recounting memories from her childhood and transcribed it. These are some of Peggy’s memories in her own words.
Part XI: Vacations
Summer jobs were not the thing to do when I was in High school, not for my area and the economic level of our family. So I babysat some – not very much, because if I was going to do any babysitting, I had to do it for my sister and I did not get paid for that. The other job I had, probably in the summer between my sophomore and junior year was that I waited tables at Wilson College for the special conventions and programs they would have there in the summer. That was OK; I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a waitress. But I did earn pretty good money with tips; the people were very generous to us.
So I had a fairly good nest egg saved up when I got married. I guess that was a good thing, because Bill sure didn’t have any money. He had to borrow money from Granddad Straughen to buy my engagement ring with a little chip of a diamond in it and he paid his Dad back for it some years later.
We lived on a shoestring those first years and Bill was, as he is now – very frugal. Out of his minimum paycheck that first year we were married, he saved quite a bit of money in addition to our paying rent. Of course one thing that helped was that we got a number of free meals at the hospital when he was on call and on Sundays. All the residents and interns and their families were welcome to Sunday lunch every week. I really looked forward to that.
Because my Dad was in the funeral business and you never knew when somebody was going to die and you would have a funeral, our vacations were few and far between. When we did take a vacation, it was only for a few days. I remember one of the biggest disappointments of my life was being in the car in the driveway ready to pull out and leave on vacation, when he got a telephone call that somebody he knew had just died and he felt he could not leave town, so we had to get out and unpack.
I remember a trip we took to Luray Caverns – I don’t remember whether my sister had been born yet or not when we made that trip because we took Grandma and Grandpa Coleman with us on a ride down the Skyline Drive to the Caverns. Later we made a short trip to Williamsburg – that was maybe my freshman year.
We did usually manage to spend part of a week, or most of a week at Ocean City, NJ which was our favorite seashore vacation. We would stay in one of the guest houses along Ocean Avenue. I loved the boardwalk, the ocean, loved playing miniature golf and loved eating at Chris’s Restaurant which had wonderful seafood and I can’t remember the name of the restaurant up the boardwalk that had wonderful cinnamon buns every morning. Loved those. My Mother and I were a wave-jumping team!
My Dad had a brother in Somerville, NJ, and I don’t ever remember while I was still at home, making a trip to see them, but I assume we must have, at least once. Usually Uncle George and his girls, my cousins Virginia and Carolyn, would come to Shippensburg to see Grandma and Grandpa Barbour. That’s when we would see them. My other uncle, Uncle John and Aunt Mary, lived in Minneapolis and that was a long way from home in those days. I don’t think we made any trips to Minneapolis until after the turnpike system was complete. I do remember when I was about 12 or 13, we made a trip there. We went fishing and I caught my first fish…They also came occasionally to Shippensburg and we were always glad to see them.
When I got older and was in high school, by that time my dad and mother had taken up golf. They were starting to go on some golf trips and I remember one year – I don’t remember where we were coming back from, we stopped in Conneaut Lake which is up on Lake Erie in Northwestern PA. We had gone to an amusement park and my Dad had ridden the roller coaster with me, because that was my favorite ride, and he cracked a couple ribs on that ride. He was in a great deal of pain.
I don’t remember whether it was that trip or another one, we stopped in Bedford at the Bedford Springs Hotel and Golf Course. It was very upscale. We pulled up to the front of it and my Dad went in to the desk to find out how much it was to stay there. He told us this after he came back out to the car that the attendant said something to him like – it was $175. and my Dad asked if that was for the week and the man said, ‘my goodness, no, that’s a night’! We laughed about that for a long time afterwards.