I recently read an article reminiscing about the Sunday drives her family took on the rare Sundays her Father would have a Sunday off work. It brought back memories of my childhood.
We did not take “Sunday drives” as they were called to non-destinations, we would go visiting friends of my parents or they would come visit us. However, we had an annual trip that is a wonderful memory – one that does not remember kids being bored and fidgeting or adults getting cranky from heat and kids – just one huge memory of all the trips in one.
In the 1950s, all vehicles in West Virginia got new license plates in June. Most people ordered them with the form that came in the mail and the license plates arrived via the rural mailman placing the new license plate in your mailbox. Not the Moran family though.
These were the days before Interstates or 4-lane highways. It was 2-lane twisty roads and one-lane bridges across ravines and creeks and no air conditioned cars. We all piled into Pappy and Granny’s 1949 Pontiac, Pappy at the wheel, my sister Pat in the middle of the front seat, and baby brother Wayne on Granny’s lap. The back seat had Mom and Daddy with me in the middle and brother John on Mom’s lap. In the trunk was a picnic basket of wonderful food for our lunch at a special place in Charleston.
I honestly do not remember all the routes we took or at what point we left WV Rte 2 south to go east and south to Charleston, but we would get an early start. As we passed a cemetery entrance in Moundsville, we would all laugh about the sign that said, ROOMS FOR RENT. At that time, all the bridges had the name of the creek they spanned posted on a sign. So as we traveled south and east after leaving WV Rte. 2, we crossed Cow Creek. A short while later we crossed Bull Creek. After a few more miles, yep, Calf Creek! We waved to people on porches and cars that passed us. We talked, sang, played games of counting oil and gas rockers, looking for out of State license plates (you could tell from the color of the plates then), and word games. Finally we would see that beautiful gold dome of the Capitol.
Mom would herd kids as Pappy and Granny went in to the building to buy the license plates. Daddy would then put the new plates on the car and the trunk would be opened!
A blanket would be spread on the lawn of the Capitol Building and we would eat as we watched people coming and going, watch the boats going up and down the Kanawha River, and play roughhouse with Daddy before climbing back into the car for the trip home. Memories last for the entire life of a child – I am remembering almost 60 years later!
You can start now with building memories for your children. Take drives to visit things in your local area. Do not put it off that they will always be there. Those one-lane bridges no longer exist. Bring the family to Shinnston, West Virginia. The Gillum House Bed & Breakfast welcomes children if they bring at least one adult parent or guardian with them. Discover history, covered bridges, crafts, take a tour of a winery, and go to a drive-in movie! Remember drive-ins? Feed carrots to a camel! Ride bicycles or walk on a scenic rail-trail in West Virginia. Show your family there is something beyond your TV room and the computer games. We hope to see you in Shinnston soon.