Friday, February 27, 2009


My Mom and Dad used to take us by car from Simsbury, Connecticut down to Florida during winter school vacation week. We would visit Grandpa and Grandma Alice who lived in Jensen Beach. Jensen Beach is the located in Martin County on the east coast and has the highest elevation in Florida. Across the causeway from Jensen Beach is Hutchinson Island.

We would have our Ford station wagon with the imitation wood panel siding packed for the trip with some of our suitcases strapped to the top of this car as there were four kids and my parents inside the car and not enough room for the luggage inside the car. My Mom would pack up food for the trip along with a couple thermos containers of coffee. My parents would wake us up at some ungodly hour like 4 or 5:00 am to start our southern vacation journey.

The trip from Connecticut to Florida is over twenty-four hours long and my Dad would drive pretty much the whole way. He was fueled by the coffee. My Mom would drive for an hour or so but my Dad would get too nervous when she drove that he didn't really relax so he would take the wheel again. We would stop for gas as needed and use the rest rooms, but other than that and maybe one twenty minute rest break on a highway rest area this trip was a non-stop affair.

I can recall some of the billboards we would see along the trip. "South of the Border" was the most memorable series of billboards along the way as it seemed that every thirty miles or so south of Washington, D.C.; there would be a billboard that would say "Pedro says" and then something funny. To this day I remember the "Pedro says" billboard which said "Pedro says, What's the weather like in Mexico? (answer) Chili today and hot tamale." South of the Border located in Dillon, South Carolina had a large restaurant along with a huge shop where you can buy gifts and fireworks.

On one memorable trip we had just entered Florida on the turnpike around mid-morning when we heard a loud THUMP which seemed to come from the top of the car. We all looked out the rear window of the station wagon and saw that one of the leather suitcases had become dislodged from the roof rack and had opened up on the highway with the wind scattering clothes all over the road and the side of the road. We stopped the car, which was going about seventy miles an hour at the time, and pulled to the side of the turnpike. My Mom, along with my brother Scott, and sisters Janet and Leeanne, and I ran back along the roadside to the area where the suitcase had fallen and commenced picking up the windblown articles of clothing and dodging the oncoming traffic. I imagine we may have looked like a small army of scavengers at the time. We reclaimed the suitcase and clothing with no casualties so we continued on our way.

I don't know why that suitcase thought it could fly. Perhaps it didn't know about gravity. If that suitcase wanted to fly it should have waited until it was on a plane.