On the road to St. Louis, high school reunion & Me
Posted July 9, 2010on:
And the memories have begun.
There is a reason we began driving to St. Louis to see Grandma and Grandpa so many years ago. You could not get from here to there, at least not easily, when you live in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Oh, we have an airport, but you had to fly from La Crosse to Chicago or Minneapolis to get anywhere. And it practically took as long to fly as drive.
The one exception was a brief period after Matt was born in 1977 when we had a puddle jumper of an airline that actually flew with a stop or two between La Crosse and St. Louis. They were teeny-tiny planes with two seats across and I think an aisle between seats. There was no flight attendant and no bathroom.
In February 1978, I proudly flew home with two-month-old Matt on my lap, nursing him every time we went up or down at Dubuque, Iowa, and one other stop that I can’t remember. What is most memorable about that flight was the gift I left on board.
With no bathroom I changed him on my lap in that cramped plane. I would like to apologize to the crew that cleaned up after us for that diaper, let me tell you. And I’m sorry, too, to my fellow passengers who probably did not approve.
It was very messy but still not like the ones we left when we drove to St. Louis when our kids were little. I remember riding in our Toyota station wagon on a hot July day when Matt’s production was prolific, to say the least. We pulled over at a gas station in Keokuk, Iowa, for the ritual, desperate cleaning of the baby in the back of the car. It was the kind of diaper change that would best be completed with a shower of the cleaner and the cleanee.
What makes that story even better was that on a subsequent trip, we had a Ground Hog’s Day experience. We left the same kind of diaper in that very same Keokuk station but from Maggie. Again, my belated apologies to the bathroom cleaner.
It’s a darn good thing we took a different route by the time Michael came along. I have to say, though, that Keokuk and places on the road to St. Louis appeared prominent in the short stories that Matt wrote as a little guy.
As time went on, our trips became much faster when we no longer were held hostage to the chilling cry, “I have to go pot-tee!” right after you’ve past a town and the next one is 10 to 15 miles away. There is no urgency like that of a younger pottier who has to go or at least wants to get out of that car.
Then there was the time we were to drive to St. Louis when Maggie was going through her terror of flies period. The thing about fears is that, by definition, they are not rational. You can’t t talk someone out of fears, especially a 2 year old.
We had just gotten on the road to St. Louis when a fly must have entered the open windows of our car. The lady of the flies was so inconsolable that we turned around and went home for the night, beginning again the next morning. I remember having to leave Steak n Shake (perish the thought) that same trip in St. Louis when Maggie saw a fly and lost it again. The things you do for your kids, even leaving a perfectly good steakburger with lots and lots and lots of pickles and mustard.
Those memories came back to me as I drove to St. Louis Thursday for my high school reunion. Our babies came along seven-plus years after I graduated from Ladue High School in 1970, but this will be a weekend of memories, no question about it.
We continued to make the journey in a car without air conditioning until 1984. Matt was being treated for leukemia by then and his doctor did not like us to be in a car where he could over heat. So after making the drive very early in the day during a heat wave in 1983 to avoid overheating him, we bought a Toyota station wagon in 1984 with air conditioning.
Growing up, our family had air conditioning in our cars since 1960 when Mom gave up her aqua 1957 Chevy for a white Impala with AC. Not having AC in our cars in Wisconsin was like thinking that we didn’t need a remote control for our television as we could get up and turn the dial. After one came with a new television, we soon couldn’t possibly change the channel without finding the remote. And it always needed – and needs – to be found.
Why, back in the day, children, we didn’t even have a microwave or a computer. Those were primitive times.
Clearly, our days are over of being rugged individualists, practically survivalists without AC in the car, a television remote or a microwave are long over.
I’m so glad. But at least I’ve got my memories.