Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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Granddad Ray & a Vaca

There’s a blog about vacations called Bucket List Publications. The author is an adorable young woman who travels all over, photographing the world and having grand adventures.

I’m willing to bet she didn’t have a granddad like mine.

The sibs and I grew up living next door to our paternal grandparents. If you ever wondered what it would be like to have two sets of parents, ask me sometime.

Granddad Ray taught his children and grandchildren a great work ethic, and he did that by LOVING his work. He had many jobs in his life (butcher, PA, grocery store merchant, rancher, farmer and You-Name-It-He-Done-It-In-The-Patch) and from what I’ve been able to tell, he loved the guts out of every one of them.

What he didn’t love–honestly didn’t understand–were vacations. It wasn’t that he thought something bad might happen when he was gone. He didn’t even worry that someone would steal what he thought was his.

Granddad just loved working so much, he wanted to be there. He thought everyone should. He didn’t understand why anyone ever wanted a break from it. Of course, that didn’t stop his sons from taking vacations. 🙂

Because my fam lived next door, if we took a vacation, we usually invited G & G to go with us. Often, Grandmother would go. Usually, Granddad did not, but once in a while . . .

One year, Granddad went to Branson with us. I’m not sure why, because we hadn’t been there long when he threatened to take his car (the one I was driving to college, and had driven directly there to meet them) and go home.

Another time, just after we got to Colorado, he wanted to head home.

Grandmother, on the other hand, loved going and happily stayed without complaint. She was a real trooper. Of course, she might have taken after her father.

Granddad Mitchell operated a filling station when my dad was a kid. Dad’s the youngest in his fam, and Uncle Frank is #1. When UF graduated high school, WWII was just underway, and his girlfriend had moved to California. (I’m guessing it had to do with her father and war work, but I don’t know for sure.)

UF missed her and wanted drive out to visit, so Granddad suggested Grandmother, Aunt Phyllis and Dad should go along, too.  As they were on their way out of town, they stopped to fill up at Granddad Mitchell’s gas station.

“Come and go with us,” Grandmother quipped as her dad filled up their car.

“I’ll be right back,” he answered.

Ten minutes later, they headed west. Grandmother, Frank, Phyllis, Dad and Granddad Mitchell.

First time I heard that story, I was more than a little surprised. Who can decide and get ready to go on a vaca in just ten minutes? What about having enough clothes? Planning which way and where to stay?

And what about money? Even though someone had already planned and was carrying enough money to pay for gas, etc. on the trip, Granddad would be an extra mouth to feed, and an extra bed to rent. They didn’t have credit cards back then. What did they do?

Dad said Granddad took a ten dollar bill along. I know things cost much less right after the depression, but three meals a day, all they way to California and back for $10? That’s some budgeting.

And what about the station? Who took care of it?

Grandma Mitchell, of course.

I asked Dad if Grandma M got upset with Granddad for taking off like that.

He said Grandma was never upset with Granddad.

“I never saw her mad at him. She was a hard worker, always busy with one thing or another, and she never complained. Anything Granddad wanted to do was ‘jake’ with her.”

On the way out there, they had breakfast in a small town in New Mexico. Aunt Phyllis ordered a hamburger for breakfast, surprising Dad and the rest of the vacationers.

When they were in the car later, Phyllis swore the burger tasted so bad, it had to have been horse meat.

He never did figure out how she knew what horse meat tasted like.

Our family vacas aren’t even close to the ones Lesley has on her Bucket List, but with relatives like mine, we go at them from a whole different angle. 😉