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Summer Vacation

   It’s that time of year again. I’m sweaty and I’m wearing my eight-year-old flip flops. Pretty soon I’ll have to yank my swimsuit on and look at the damage in the bathroom mirror, from the neck up like I always do. Some people apparently like summer vacation.
   I was people-watching from my vantage point outside the Edgartown town hall the other day, waiting for my husband to pick me up and checking out the marks the aforementioned flip flops had left on my swollen feet that work day when I fixated on a family. They were enjoying a nice walk on Main Street, or at first glance they were. Then it began. The family vacation “episode.” The mother was wearing one of those popular maxi dresses. The dad had on white shorts, as did the two little boys who were maybe 3 and 7. The little girl had on a pastel dress and little pink sandals. She was maybe 5 or 6.
   Everything was going well, and then the mother insisted that they all sit on a bench while she took their picture.Well, outdoor benches are rarely pristine. Like I said, they were wearing white. And they were all under age six. What was probably once a happy little family turned into a mother yanking little arms while saying, “I told you not to get dirty!” Dad, of course, didn’t have much to say. One of the boys figured it was best to just hightail it out of reach of his mom, which really didn’t help his case much.
   I enjoyed the whole thing from my perch on the bench and was thankful I wasn’t in the picture.
   This carried me back to family vacations, though.
   I have two very early vacation memories.
   The first one is going to Hickman, Kentucky, with my dad and brother and sister. There was some kind of rouse involved whereby my dad was supposed to get a copy of his birth certificate. Well, my Uncle Pat came with us and I’m pretty sure they looked for that vital document under a case of Miller High Life. We kids were left with our Great-grandma Joellen and our Great-aunt Mignon (quite the name if I’m remembering it correctly). 
   Aunt Miggie, as she was called, had a house with a nice porch swing. Seriously, I was maybe 3 or 4 and I remember this. Anyway, my great-grandma, who we called Mamma Jo, had really long white hair that she braided and coiled around her head. Imagine being a four year old and seeing all that white hair flowing down an old lady’s back.  Gives me the shivers. Anyway, I remember seeing her hair, I remember the rouse, I remember a whole lot of really good food, especially breakfast at Aunt Miggie’s house. And, I remember my dad taking us to see Bunny Lake is Missing – a sweet little film about a little girl who gets abducted.
   My other early vacation memory took place on the other side of the family. We drove from Missouri to, I think, Virginia to see my Aunt Betty, my mom’s older sister. We have pictures of this trip. I’m wearing a swimsuit that I still remember, the bottom half yellow and the top half white with pastel-colored polka dots. That might just be the best I’ve ever looked in a swimsuit.
   I was wearing a swimsuit because we were in the Potomac River. I’m pretty sure I was standing in one of those old black tire inner tubes we used to float on. I don’t know how old I was, but not much older than my Kentucky memory. I do remember thinking that my mom and Aunt Betty were pretty darn glamorous.
   I also remember seeing some of the sights in Washington, D.C. I remember the Lincoln Memorial and a few other things, just bits and pieces. And I remember the bologna sandwiches on white bread and red jello in Dixie cups that we ate on the way there. I remember a great big pier that went out into the water and I can even remember posing for the pictures.
   Thank God my mother never dressed me in white.


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