Dads... Daughters and Cars
My Dad in his 83rd year, still active playing golf and all kinds of hobbies, was an aerospace engineer before retirement and worked for the same company in the same location for 43 years! He worked on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. Dad a conservative type, raised in the depression with four daughters to raise, fixed everything around the house including our family "Wagon". I being the youngest of a crop of four girls and no brothers was very un-interested in learning sewing , cooking and how to polish my nails, became the Tomboy of the bunch. I constantly followed my Dad around to help with "his" chores, one of them taking car of the family station wagon, (one pictured above circa 1962).
Many evening's after a hard days work, Dad would go out into the garage to "tinker" on the wagon. The long hot summer nights are most memorable as Dad's prepared the "Wagon" for our annual summer camping trips. He gave me the most important job...holding the flashlight still while he worked on the engine! I felt soooooo important! Except when I my attention would wander and the flashlight wavered in it duties, Dad would snap me back with "Jode, hold it steady, I'm almost done." My reward was an ice cream sundae with Hershey syrup, prepared and shared with Dad on the front porch of our home in the San Fernando Valley.
Dad had a complete "shop" in the garage with every tool Sears stocked and plenty of other gadgets to fix, repair and handle any household crisis including the dreaded "plunger" that was in his words, "the hardest working tool in the garage, you girls use way too much TP".
The family wagon was my personal ticket to worlds un-yet explored each summer on our two week family camping vacations to every National Park and historical site west of the Mississippi, stopping along the way at each, ( it seemed like every), road marker of any consequence.
Dad drove on vacation like he was completing a military "mission", AAA maps plotted for exact routes and stops, including scheduled "rest stops", which by the way, as the youngest were always too far between for me. Road trips with Dad were often referred to as the "green blur" as between scheduled stops he drove from point A to point B, mileage calculated to the 1/8th of a mile with no good argument to make an unscheduled stop no matter what good reason any of us girls or Mom would conjure up!
The family "Wagon" represented excitement, adventure, freedom , fun , relaxation, family unity, bonding and all kinds of fun antics. Often when we would pull up to an unsuspecting ranger station to "check in" to camp, Dad would shout out "Chinese Fire Drill", what a site for the rangers .... five girls and my Dad running in circles around the "Wagon" giggling and laughing and enjoying the heck out the rangers surprised reaction. The rangers were always rewarded by Dad each summer for "humoring" our antics with an invite to our campsite for a campfire and some homemade ice cream.
I am still camping every summer unlike my older sisters who would rather stay in a bed and breakfast or cabin on their vacations. I've carried on the family tradition with my kids and grandkids by tent camping , trailer camping and recently the more deluxe camping experience in my RV.
Dad gave me the love of 'wheels' and to date I own a Magnum "Wagon" the coolest station wagon on the road, a 25 foot RV, a Toyota Supra and a Harley Davidson....Dad wished he was younger so he could ride a Harley too!
Happy Father's Day, Dad and thanks for the many fond memories on wheels!