Apparently, my husband was raised to think that vacations were a waste of time and money. I never heard of his parents going anywhere just for fun. They probably went to a few weddings, most funerals, and family reunions. Both of them died not long after I married, Tony’s dad the first spring and his mother two years later, in 1959. Their finances were awfully tight plus, owning a grocery store possibly made it difficult to get away. The only trips I ever heard of them taking were to visit family – or because of family.
They didn’t go out to eat very often either or at least didn’t take their three little boys. There was talk of going to a fish camp, somewhere on a river, fairly primitive, 15 or 20 miles away. There, one was served all the fried fish and hushpuppies one could eat , plus cole slaw and sweet tea. The fish had bones in it and my mama had scared me to death of fish bones from an early age. She did not allow fish in her house so I was very ignorant of how to eat it, much less how to avoid bones. The only time I went to the fish camp, they made money on me, what with their fixed price for everyone. When my nice husband realized I was going to eat nothing but a little slaw, he deboned a couple of the little fish for me and explained that hushpuppies have no fish in them. I’d never seen one before and had no idea what they were. Now, I make delicious hushpuppies, better than the fish camp’s, I think. The fish we were served were bream, I believe, and their fresh caught meat was delicious. However, it took me the entire time to eat them because I had to carefully roll every bite around in my mouth to check for bones. My in-laws were not thrilled with me. Oh, how I longed for the square fish I’d always got at the Atlanta S&W Cafeteria ! Not a single bone in sight.
Tony’s family still teased him about his order, at a diner, in Birmingham. The family had driven down to attend the wedding of Tony’s cousin. Tony was about 12 or 13, old enough to read a menu and order for himself. When the waitress came around, he told her,” I’ll have number 3 and eggs any style.” Of course, his big brothers hooted and teased him horribly! He thought is sounded grown up to say "eggs any style"!
Years later, when all of us were on our way to the beach, we stopped at a lovely restaurant for lunch. The brothers and two little boys were at one table and all the wives and our four little girls were at another. I had been careful to tell Tony to insist that our son eat something. He was small but apparently could read the menu. After saying he wasn’t hungry, and being told he had to eat, he ordered a 12 oz.T-bone with all the trimmings! And, much to our amusement, he ate the whole thing.
The three brothers always rented the same lovely, big beach house at Kiawah Island so we could split the cost. Back then, it was not the resort that it is now and so was perfect for young families. We had a very cute milk man who knocked at our door most mornings. To even buy a loaf of bread, we had to drive back to John’s Island, on the way to Charleston. I seemed to get elected to deal with the milk man which was fine with me but they just had to tease me about him. One day, my two sisters in law and I drove over to the little store. I was driving and the car ran over a very long black snake. I did not see him in the rear view mirror, either going off the road or in the middle. I had read about the wheels kicking a snake up under the car some way and had visions of that guy waiting for me when I exited the car. As luck would have it, our milk man was just getting into his truck, on the side of the road. I stopped and motioned him over, told him the situation, and asked him to please look under my car to see if there was a snake under there. He very sweetly and politely did so. Now, understand that all this was going on while my sil’s were absolutely shrieking with laughter, grown women, mind you! Yeah, I got teased about that for a few years until my niece who was living in Texas, very kindly sent a newspaper article about a snake that had crawled up under a lady’s car. Someone told her they thought they had seen it. She pulled into a service station and the men there put the car on the elevator thingy , sent a burst of steam up under the car and a large snake dropped out. Ah, vindicated, at last!
For years, we didn’t take vacations, just trips with a purpose. One year, a day or two before Mothers’ Day, Tony’s cousin, who had a home in the mountains, died unexpectedly. That trip became my Mothers” Day present! Yes, we went to the funeral and Tony had a visit with his relatives. It was not sad to me because I’d never met the woman. At least, we stayed in a nice motel.
One evening, in late May, a nice man came up to me at a party and said he’d just offered us a free vacation at Fort Lauderdale, for a week. The only catch was that he had just bought the motel and wanted Tony to check it out and be sure the accounting etc. was correct. Of course, he was a bank customer. I said, ”We can do that." The man asked, how soon --- and I said that night but the next day would be easier. When he and I approached Tony, his excuse was that Bruce would miss the last week of first grade. I called Bruce’s teacher the next day, explained the situation, and her response was, “ Oh, thank God, I’ve been praying and the Lord answered my prayers. Maybe I can finish out the year without a nervous breakdown.” She assured me it wouldn’t hurt Bruce’s grades, might even help! Knew I should have home schooled that little boy. He got into a lot of mischief. We had a wonderful vacation!
In 1969, we received a big, heavy, elegant, wedding invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hope, to the wedding of their daughter. She was marrying one of Tony’s customers, who lived in New York but had grown up in Augusta, Nathaniel Greenblatt Lande. We could not afford to go, but my parents insisted and said they’d come keep the kids. We had to get a bank loan to pay our way. That was our only trip to Los Angeles so we stayed about five days. The groom’s parents, two doctors and wives, and we were the only guests from Augusta. Oh, and Rabbi Goldburg.
We went to a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the night before the wedding. On the day of the late afternoon wedding, a doctor and his wife and we rented a limo and had the driver give us a very nice tour, drop us back at our hotels to dress, then take us to the wedding and wait for us. That limo money was well spent as the area around the church was crawling with yellow cabs who had to let their passengers out away across the street to walk. The limos were allowed right to the front door with valets etc. The entire place was crawling with Secret Service and Hope’s security people. The Vice President and Mrs.Agnew were attending, obviously before his troubles. We presented our card on the steps before entering and Rabbi Goldburg had to identify us for the Secret Service. The wedding was lovely, part Roman Catholic and part Jewish. All around us, people were craning their heads and gawking to see who the other guests were. The gawkers themselves were big stars and easy to spot. We thought that was so funny that they were impressed with each other. Some even stood on their seats to see! The Crosbys were two seats in front of us and Bing arrived late, in his golf clothes.
After the wedding, we were transported to the reception at the Hopes’ home. It was a very nice home but surely not ostentacious. We spoke to our hosts but the line was not long. I got the impression that the party had been going on for some time. We chatted with the Agnews off and on as they knew as few people as we did. The party was in a huge white tent that ajoined their patio. The band stand and dance floor were the pool cover, pretty big. The food was everything one could think of. We drank nothing alcoholic as we wanted to be sure and remember everything. Tony and I , by agreement, went opposite ways around the tent and would meet and share info. Phyllis Diller spoke to me and was very friendly. When she heard my accent, she pulled me around the room so various people could hear me talk. I finally escaped. I didn’t introduce myself to many folks as I knew who they were and figured they had no interest in knowing me. The wedding gifts were displayed in the dining room the same way they would have been in Atlanta except names had been left on. We never received a thank you note and I believe it was a very short marriage. Didn’t matter. It was a trip of a lifetime, for us and Tony no longer ordered “ eggs any style”.
In later years, we did take a couple of great cruises , only for pleasure but that’s another story.
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