"A Family Outing" Essay...
At first Susan took the sheep to the fairs in the station
wagon, but soon she had too many sheep, so we bought a
pick-up truck for her to transport the sheep. However, soon
after we purchased the truck Thomas built a camper to go on
the truck for camping trips. The three little kids
and we did quite a bit of camping. The weekends Susan
did not need the truck we went camping. The camping bug bit
us so we bought an old school bus and Thomas converted it
into a camper. We even had a hot water tank! One time we
took Thomas's brother, Roger, his wife, Annie, and their
daughter, Leslie, with us to the Smoky Mountains.
After we were there a few days
Thomas wanted to see Fontana Dam in Tennessee. Roger and
Annie would be content to stay at the campsite so, inasmuch
as we towed a Fiat, we left the Fiat with them. We also left
the cook tent, another tent, in which they could sleep, and
some chairs. We took off for Fontana Dam. The bus had
neither power steering nor power brakes, but we drove it up
and down the narrow mountain roads and thought nothing of
it. After we left some campers came in next to where Roger
and family were camping. Roger said the man kept looking at
them and finally came over and said "Will you please tell me
how you got the tents, the chairs and yourself all the way
from Connecticut in that Fiat?"
In February, 1968, we flew to
Miami. rented a car and drove to Marathon. We had heard
about the Keys from a friend of Thomas's. Susan, Maggie,
Thomas and Francis went with us. It was the first airplane
ride for all of us except Thomas. The little ones were
thrilled, Susan and I were apprehensive. I remember saying
to Susan "Well, we are up in the air," and she responded "We
have to come down yet". We looked around and liked what we
saw. We drove down to Key West and did the whole tourist
bit: conch chowder, turtle steak and Key Lime pie. We had a
good time. In the summer of 1968 we took the bus to Florida.
We enjoyed Florida in the winter but we wanted to experience
it in the summer before definitely deciding to move there.
In Virginia the bus broke down. At that time some of the
Virginians thought of us all Damn Yankees (some still do).
Anyway, we were towed off the
Interstate and left on the side of the road. The fellow who
towed us off said there was a mechanic down the road. This
was 6.00 Saturday evening. We could not have picked a worse
time or place to break down. The "mechanic" down the road
was a gasoline attendant and could not help us. We were
parked across the road from a tumble-down house. The people
in the house kept looking at us. Finally the man came across
and asked if he could help. He was going to school to learn
to be an auto mechanic. He got parts and did the best he
could to get us going. While we were by the side of the road
we became acquainted with the family. They had five
children, two boys and two girls and the baby. The baby had
a crib and the other four all slept in the same bed, the
girls at one end and the boys at the other end. The youngest
boy evidently was deaf. He did not talk but did squeal. His
mother said he was tongue tied, but we noticed if he did not
see you approaching he was not aware of you until you were
in front of him.
This camping trip was in the
mountains of Virginia. In the winter it was cold. They had
one faucet in the kitchen which came up on the outside of
the house. The lady told me that in the winter they leave
the faucet open so the pipe doesn't freeze, but one time the
drain froze and when she came downstairs in the morning the
floor was covered with ice. They rented this place. There
was a gate to keep the cows in, but there was also a lumber
operation going on so the gate had to be opened for the
lumber trucks. The kids would open the gates for the trucks,
and the drivers usually gave them a dime. If there was no
tip, no gate opener.
Francis found out about this
deal and he began to open the gate. Finally the next
Saturday we got going and headed for the first campground we
could find. We really needed to find the showers. We were
there for a week. We continued on our way and when we went
through Atlanta there was a great deal of road work. I
imagine it was 1-75. The roads were in really bad shape and
while we were in Atlanta we had a thunder and lightning
storm which was the worst I have ever seen. We finally
reached Boca Raton where Richard and Diane Horton lived. The
bus was still not running well so Richard's mechanic took a
crack at it and it did run somewhat better. We went down to
Marathon and decided to buy three lots on Key Colony Beach.
On our way back from the camping
trip, the bus broke down again outside of Washington, D.C.
This time we had a real nice trooper who found someone to
tow the bus to a garage. We left the bus there and took the
Greyhound home. We arrived at the Bridgeport Greyhound Bus
Station at 3:00 A.M. Bob and Denise came down and brought us
home. A week later Thomas, Thomas and I went down and picked
up the bus. It had a new motor then and went very well. In
1968 land values were rising and we thought we could sell
the ranch at a sizeable profit so we put it on the market.
We sold it in June, 1969, and moved to Key Colony Beach.
Florida. Before we left June had a big "going away" party
for us. She invited all the family and just loads of
It was a camping trip to be
remembered. The men at the Metal Hose Company also gave
Thomas a big "going away" party. He received numerous gifts,
one of which is the picture of the Oxford house, which hangs
on our wall today.