As a single mother of two small children in the early 60’s and beyond, you can imagine how tight the money must have been. Public assistance was not something she ever considered – she was raised to make what you had work and not look for handouts! So, we lived with my Grandparents for a while until she could afford a place of our own and she worked three jobs to make sure we had what we needed. Looking back I can see the struggle and sacrifice, but while it was all happening, we never knew that we had to worry about money!
First – there were the vacations! She made sure that we were able to go on great adventures at vacation time – always within driving distance, included staying in inexpensive motels, and often included friends who were also single Moms to share the expenses. In those days, it was possible to take a family on an adventure to a fabulous tourist attraction and gain incredible memories without taking out a second mortgage on your house to do it. We’d go to the Adirondack Mountains to do all the touristy stuff over a 4 day weekend – Land of 1000 Animals, The North Pole, Whiteface Mountain, and the Land of Make Believe – full of fairy tale houses! Other times, we’d go to Atlantic City – long before it became a gambling mecca and it was just a great beach with an incredible boardwalk full of fabulous things to do and eat! We got to see a man on a white horse dive off the end of the Steel Pier into the Atlantic Ocean, we had our pictures taken with the Planter’s Peanuts guy on the Boardwalk, we saw Brenda Lee and The Four Seasons in concert, we danced to the jukebox selections of “Ain’t Got No Satisfaction” and “Woolly Bully” in diners all over the area — and once, she made sure there was enough money to go out for a fancy meal at the world famous Hackney’s seafood restaurant! She’s never let us live down the fact that we were in this incredible high end restaurant with every kind of seafood imaginable prepared in a zillion different ways and all us kids ordered SPAGHETTI!!!! ha-ha
We’d spend nice weekend afternoons driving to a nearby town where there was a farm that had a big pond full of swans and geese and we’d take bread to break up and feed them. Then we would take a leisurely drive back home and stop at Reed’s hot dog stand for lunch. Reed’s was located across the street from a huge mansion that was the home of the “Odd Fellows Association” and we’d sit on the picnic benches eating the best hot dogs with fries and cold root beer and laugh about what kind of people were behind the gates of the Odd Fellows Association! ha-ha
We used to go to the local drive-in theater a lot — we’d put on our jammies, take our pillows and blankets, and head to the drive in. We’d get there early so we could go play on the swings down at the base of the huge screen and get dinner or snacks from the concession stand. Then, on the way home, we’d drive through town to see the stop lights blinking! You see, in our town the stop lights all changed to flashing yellow along main street and flashing red for the side streets at midnight so people wouldn’t have to wait for red lights to turn green when there wasn’t any traffic! We thought that was soooooooooo cool and Mom knew we got a kick out of it, so she made sure whenever we were out in the car after midnight (like whenever we went to the drive in), she would take us down main street to see it!
There were always kids around and she included our friends in a lot of our adventures – she took me and my best friend Cathy to see Mary Poppins at the local movie theater for my birthday the year it came out. Mom, some of my girlfriends, and I sat in the front row of the balcony at the local movie theater to see The Beatles first movie – “A Hard Days Night” when it opened and she screamed at the sight of The Beatles right along with the rest of us — and she talked us into staying and seeing it a second time right after the first cause we missed so much of it screaming — but we screamed just as much the second time and didn’t see much more of it! She took a whole car load of our friends to the drive-in in another town to see The Beatles “HELP!” movie when it first opened!
Man – this just scratches the surface of memories and adventures shared with my Mom!! And we’re STILL making memories!!! I was lucky enough to get to go to a conference in Las Vegas in July 2006, so I talked her into meeting me there! We stayed at Caesar’s Palace and in the evenings after the conference, we “did Vegas!” – and did it good!!! And to put a perfect cap on a lifetime of sharing a love for The Beatles, I got tickets for the Cirque Du Soleil show “LOVE” (a fabulous show with all Beatles music) – the tickets were for the dress rehearsal showings before it even officially opened – in keeping with the tradition of seeing any show associated with The Beatles as soon as it is available to be seen!
Mom taught me so many things, but the most important was that I can do whatever I put my mind to and provided an excellent real example of a strong willed woman who could build a mountain out of a grain of sand – given the right circumstances and desire to do so!!!
My Mom — I think I’ll keep her!!!!