Destination Rock Bottom

country squireIt says something about Wisconsin winters that my parents decided to pack all five kids into the Country Squire, tie the suitcases onto the roof, and head off on the 1300 mile drive to sunny Florida over Easter vacation. And we did this more than once, if I remember right. What an ordeal to go through, just to get a little sunshine! We weren’t even in Chicago yet, when the questions started coming:

“Are we there yet?”

“How many more minutes?”

“Look! There’s a Stuckey’s!!  Can we stop? I gotta go to the bathroom!”

“Mom I think I’m going to throw up!”

I still have some fairly vivid memories of my spot in “the way back” and the smell of carsickness, my father rolling down the window and resting his left arm on the car door so that he arrived in the Sunshine State with two differently colored arms. I remember my brothers reading “Hardy Boys” mysteries and the radio stations turning country with their DJs’ starting to drawl. We did not wear seat belts and sometimes traded places on the fly. We didn’t sing show tunes, but there were some games played. Who would be the first to find a word on a billboard or license plate that starts with “A”?

Sometimes the sun would set and the car would go quiet except for the soft murmurs coming from the front seat, my parents quietly discussing something I couldn’t quite make out and probably wouldn’t have understood anyway. But that sound was so comforting and soporific. They were in their thirties at the time. With their five kids asleep in the station wagon behind them and a week of sunshine and sandy beaches ahead.

Strangely, it was something utterly awful in today’s political news that steered my thoughts back in time to these ancient memory road trips – but I am not sure exactly why. I only know that I am suddenly nostalgic and mourning something lost.


I’ve been following the downs and downs of this election season too closely. I’m in danger of finally comprehending a concept that I’ve been lucky enough to elude my entire life: hatred.  I might have to unplug – say “Goodbye! See you next winter!” to Rachel and Chris – before politics turns any more of my innocent, inner child memories into nightmares.

I’m in “the way back” on a trip through Bizarroland and I still smell the puke. Instead of my father, Donald Trump is at the wheel with his butler historian riding shotgun. There are no soft murmurs coming from the front seat now, just one debasing, intelligence-insulting commentary after another, increasingly hateful and violent in tone as we all head south.  All the other drivers on this road are angry and aggressive too. There is no sunny destination at the end of this trip. We are just putting distance between ourselves and my hometown before the nukes are dropped to rid it of the “muzzies”. Part of me is morbidly curious about just how crazy bad this ride is going to get. Are we there yet? The other part just hatched plans to get out and run away at the next Stuckey’s. How many more minutes?



7 thoughts on “Destination Rock Bottom

    1. No worries. The memory is safe – I just use it here as a sort of device or metaphor for Trump in the driver’s seat and my own loss of innocence. To explain how recent events are coloring my world view at the moment. I worry about the changes happening due to this election – what people seemingly are willing to say out loud and on the record now – and I wonder when enough will be enough. What will it take to wake people up?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking that exact thing yesterday. I feel like he’s giving permission to people who would normally be quiet to open up and talk boldly with slurs and horrible racism.


  1. Immersed in the same bizarre nightmare, I am simultaneously repelled and morbidly curious about the outcome of the upcoming election. If the worst happens, save me a seat in the Country Squire and let me know when we get to Canada! Yikes. Whoever came up with the idea of putting wood paneling on the sides of a station wagon, anyway? Someone who couldn’t get enough of it in the Rumpus Room? Loved this one, 227! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Rumpus Room” – haven’t heard that term in decades! We had one of those too – and it might have been paneled. Your seat in the Squire is reserved, but we will have to be quick and get to the border before the Canadians build a wall to keep us all out.


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