Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday drives

I don't know what brought this subject to mind a few days ago, but there it was.  It must have been something I was reading. 

I do remember Sunday drives AND Sunday drivers -- the butt of many jokes back in the slower days.

First, you need to know that Sunday afternoon naps were almost a religious thing in our household.  Okay, for the adults, but the children?  Not so much.  So, if someone in our town or a family member who owned a car offered to take a few kiddies on an afternoon drive, it was a go from the first offer.  No thinking there.  Most of the time mom went with us.  When my youngest brother was just a little tyke, it was usually me and my sister, and maybe my little brother, as opposed to my youngest brother.  All the children were younger than I, so to differentiate between brothers is difficult to describe sometimes.

Anyway, someone would pick us up after dinner (leftovers from Saturday night's supper) and take us for a drive.  A slow, meandering drive down country roads.  There WERE such things as country roads in South Jersey back in the 50s.  Looking at a map was not an option.  We had no designated place we wanted to see.  We didn't care if we were just driven up to Suicide Hill, given a couple of boxes to slide down on, and play at the Hill for an hour or so, then take a few twists and turns around Runnemede and Barrington before coming home..  Mom and Dad got a brief respite from the four children.

I recall a couple of drives though, specifically, around South Jersey.  There was a lady in our church called Miss Brown.  She lived in Swedesboro, another small South Jersey town, and she would every once in a while eat dinner after Sunday morning church with the Misses Dodge, who lived down on the pike, and then pick us up for a Sunday afternoon drive.  Mom ALWAYS went on those drives because she loved where we would end up -- at Miss Brown's.  She lived on a creek or river, down there, I was never sure, and mom loved her garden.  Miss Brown would vary the route from time to time so we didn't get to her home by the same roads, until the end, then we all knew where we were, and we all loved her yard, and yes, even her tiny little house.  I think we all remember her back room, which was really an enclosed porch, but it must have been heated, because I don't recall it ever being cold out there, but then maybe we didn't visit her in the winter.  Who knows?  It was a long time ago.

Another drive I recall was the zig-zag drive.  Uncle El (Wentzel) took us for a drive in his green car, I think it was a '49 or '50 Chevrolet, four door.  Not the boxy one, but the one just before that.  I could certainly look it up, since my husband collects books about old cars, but then I'd lose my chain of thought. 

This one Sunday, Uncle El offered to take us on a zig-zag ride.  What's a zig-zag ride?  Well, one of us would yell out, at his signal,  "Turn right here, Uncle El!"  And, he'd turn right, and we'd drive for a while, then he signal again,  and the loudest person would yell out "Turn left here, Uncle El."  Amazingly we never got lost.  Perhaps he knew what we would say before he signaled anyway, and always knew exactly where we were.  He owned a moving company and probably knew all the roads down in South Jersey, even without a map.

As for Sunday drivers -- well, they became a rare breed in the 60s and the 70s, but you always knew who they were because you'd be tearing along on a back road, and bam, you meet up with a slow driver who was just rambling along and then after several minutes of frustratingly slow driving you'd pass that driver, just knowing, yep, it was Sunday, and the couple in the car was just taking a drive.

I loved those days.


1 comment:

The Lady of the Holler said...

We used to joke about "Sunday drivers" when we lived in out in the country in Pennsylvania. :o) Your Sunday drives sound beautiful!