To Know Me Is To Know My Family: 4th of July on the Farm, Family Vacation (#9)

I am going out of sequence for this family story. Seeing we just celebrated the 4th of July; I will blog about how we spent a few of our holidays in Washington during this time.

From since a small child and before I could first remember, my family would pack-up the car for a summer vacation to Olympia, Washington to visit my relatives on my Dad’s side. It was always a fun time for me, except for the occasional car sickness when I was younger. I have so many wonderful memories throughout the years from our family vacations.

As I said, we always went in the summer months and for a while, we planned our vacation time so that we spent the 4th of July on the farm. In those days leaving from Hawthorne, California, with 4 kids, a mother and father it would take us 3 days to get into Olympia, Washington. I remember Dad driving most, if not all of the way most vacations. One of my fondest memories oddly enough was driving through the redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants by the light of the moon. My head would be on my Mom’s lap and my feet on my Dad’s lap. I must have been around 5 or 6 years old, looking up at the tall redwoods and the dark sky sprinkled with stars in the moonlight. It was simply gorgeous and very mystical. When we came into Olympia, we would find ourselves in what is now called Downtown Historic District. When I think back at that time it was a typical fifties town. Penny’s Millers, Crane’s Café, Spar, and Olympia Oyster House were just a few places I remember on the streets. I think we stayed at a place on 4th Street. I do know it was in the downtown area. We stayed in rooms that were for rent situated over the store’s below. It had a door that led you upstairs and right next door to it was a candy store that had the best fudge ever. The manager’s name was Effy. She was quite the character and very nice. The rooms were just that. They slept 2 people in each room and the bathroom and showers were at the end of the hall. It seems to me, at least when we first rented them, they were $.50 a room. I’m assuming that was for each night. My sisters were in one room, Mom and I in another and Henry and Dad in the 3rd room. We as kids really enjoyed staying there. I think my parents did too as I never heard any thing different being said. We were perfectly located to everything, food and shopping.

We always tried to visit as many of the family as we could, which was a favorite for all of us, because we got to see the cousins, Aunts and Uncles. Then there was Grandma and Grandpa which was always very special. Many times, we had a big get together, sometimes at our Grandparents and other times it would be at a park. All of the family would bring a dish of food. Seems like everyone in the family were excellent cooks, for the food was always delicious and there was plenty for us all to eat. My sister Janice remembers having a watermelon spitting seed contest and Uncle Bob blowing smoke out of his ears. Janice and Alanna remembered the peanut butter cookies that Grandma made. Alanna has the recipe. It always seemed every year there was a new baby to have fun with and to celebrate.  My personal favorite of the parks was Priest Point Park. My Dad carved our initials on the rail of the old bridge that went over the street below. When the 4th of July would come around, we would go to the Grandparents. We’d then take a walk down to the neighborhood store on Bay Harbor Drive that was owned by a husband and wife. There would be a firework stand right by the little store. Our family would buy cap guns, sparklers and firecrackers. Across the street a little bit down the road was the Lutheran Church. It was a small white building with a steeple. We were told the Grandpa made the pulpit. So much history just on that one street.

Firecrackers would go off all day long. I remember my Mom would go to the end of the rows of raspberries, light a firecracker and put a can over it so we could see it go up in the air. We would play with our cap guns all day long with what seemed like an endless supply of caps. And then there were the sparklers. How pretty and exciting it was to see them lit in the dark of the night sky with the forest behind the farm. What amazing memories and to think I got to share them with so many wonderful family members.

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