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Road trippin’ in the 1960s

When these families crammed into the car for a road trip, they returned home with miles of memories.

Road Trip Routine, 1960sRoad Trip Routine
The youngest of four kids, I usually found myself stuck between my siblings in the backseat of our old ’64 Cadillac Coupe DeVille when my family went on vacation. I remember Dad putting suitcases in the back floorboard to make a bed for the first sleepy kid. Two others stretched out opposite each other on the backseat, while I fit perfectly under the rear window. Back then, we weren’t concerned about seat belts.

Usually our trips began with the same routine. Had everyone used the bathroom? Did everyone eat something before leaving? Dad never wanted to stop or pay to feed four growing kids once we were on the road. About 10 miles outside town, Dad would put the gas pedal to the floor and roar down the highway. As my mom told him to slow down, Dad would look at her with a grin on his face and say, “Mother, you have to blow the cobwebs out of an engine!” All of us kids would scream, “Faster, Dad, faster!”

Road Trip Routine, 1960sAbout an hour into the drive, at least one of us would lean over the front seat and ask the question, “How much farther now?” The answer was always, “Not much. Why don’t you take a nap, and when you wake up we will be there.”

Along the way we would spot advertisements for sights and places of interest like caves or amusement parks. A kid would beg, “Let’s go see that!” But every time, Dad flew right by.

The only unplanned stops that old Caddy took were at rivers, lakes and streams. Dad, an avid angler, always had a fishing pole in the car. From Colorado to Canada, almost every vacation we took was near a lake full of northern pike and walleye. We did manage to see Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, Silver Dollar City and a few other fishing-free sights. No matter where we ended up, though, our trips were always a blast.

Tina Scott • Clinton, Missouri

1960s Oversize LoadOversize Load
On weekends when we lived near Santa Maria, California, my husband and I would take our two boys  (pictured at left) around the area to see the sights. During one such drive in 1964, we were traveling down Highway 101 to visit friends in Van Nuys. Of course, Steven and Douglas were in the backseat fussing with each other, not paying attention to the scenery outside the window. Finally, I turned around and said, “Sit up and look out, you might see an elephant!” just to get their attention.

Road Trippin' in the 1960sAbout that same time, a big stock truck came toward us on the opposite side of the road.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw a huge elephant looking up over the side of the truck! That really got their attention.

From then on, whenever the boys weren’t taking in the view, my husband or I would tell them to look out for elephants. We’d all have a good laugh—and still do to this day.

Iva Metz • Bothell, Washington



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Meyer October 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

We also used to make family road trips about every other summer. I especially remember, I believe the summer of 1964. It was the last year of the New York World’s Fair and that was one of the places we went. My dad was an inspector for General Motors in a locomotive repair shop and one of the first places we went was the GM exhibit. The line for this “Futurama” building was ‘miles long’ so he went up to an information both to see what little pull he might have. I don’t know if they were just treating GM employees special or he was mistaken for someone else, but within just moments we were in a private reception lounge with snacks, beverages, etc and a man came in with packages about the exhibit complete with 10 or 12, 8×10 photos. We were kings! After everyone talked for a while we were taken to one end of the room to a door. It was opened to reveal we were now at the front of the ‘miles long’ line and we were all of a sudden on the ‘ride,’ which was a conveyor with talk-backed seats that took you on your trip to the future. I will say that it seems to me that there are cars around now that kind of look like what we saw there.

We saw other things at the Worlds Fair and then we also worked our way back home, St Louis, going through Washington DC, but I’ll never forget that GM experience we had that summer. Just wish I had kept track of that package we got there.


Ben Shaw March 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Living in Larchmont NY in the 40’s and early 50’s I remember our annual trip to Middleport Pennsylvania. This was our much anticipated vacation . We would pile in the car and off we would go . Some of the highlights were traveling down the West side Drive seeing all the ocean liners docked on the Hudson river . We would continue under the Hollen tunnel and out through New Jersey experiencing all the different scenery , industrial factories with foul smells and on to farm land with lush green pastures and cows . About halfway through Jersey Dad had a favorite Dinner to stop for lunch . Cook’s Dinner was special because we knew we could make our own selections . Once back on the road it took little time before we were in Pennsylvania . Many towns come to mind and stand out , for instance Easton , was a boarder city that is on the Delaware River , Nazareth , a cement manufacturing city , Bethlehem , Lehigh and Hamburg . This was the last town before arriving at Middleport . We always looked forward to Hamburg because Dad would stop at a store that sold fresh roasted peanuts . The rest of the journey was consumed by eating the tasty peanuts . The one thing I remember is that Dad would say , ” don’t mess up the car with the shells” . Needless to say , the car was a mess . All and all , these were fond memories of my early years .


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