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Family vacations may supply our most vivid memories of childhood. You are together for an extended time with the same group. You remember things that occur with other people, especially those close to you. The trips and family bonds anchor your memories.

I have two vacation stories to write. One story concerns a near tragedy in Montana, in the 1960s. A swift stream almost carried away our little sister. No doubt our sibling would have drowned, had the water been successful. The incident began innocently enough.

To begin, we should reconstruct a timeline for our summer trips.

  • 1965, the year I turned eleven: trip to Europe for the whole summer. I was ten years old during that trip.
  • 1964, the year I turned ten: two-week trip to Montana, including Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. I was nine years old during that two-week trip. That was the summer of bears, clanking pans, and the beast at the car’s rear window.
  • 1963, the year I turned nine: trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I was eight years old during that trip. Brian was six; David was four; Laura was two. Mom said, “No more camping trips with babies in diapers.” Well, Laura was out of diapers by the next year anyway.

The second story, of course, concerns itches and scratches. Laura knows what I’m talking about. It bears retelling. Do not try to reproduce precisely those conversations in the back seat of the car! I think the second story may be from our trip to Ohio. Did we go to Washington, DC on the same trip? I think we may have, during spring break in 1969.

Did we take two spring break trips, one of them to Dayton, and the other to DC? We did take two, but the Dayton and DC were indeed in the same trip. The second one was to the upper peninsula of Michigan. I think that one was first. That would have been spring of 1968, perhaps. Seems to me we took that trip when I was younger than thirteen, though. That means we would have taken it during summer of 1966, a year before my dad went to join the Thoma law firm in Des Moines. That happened summer of 1967.

The long spring break trip to DC originated in Des Moines. The year before that, we went to St. Louis, and to the Ozarks in Arkansas. I do not believe either one occurred during high school. If we took those trips from Des Moines, and they happened before church confirmation, that means they happened during spring of eighth and ninth grades. That would be Ozarks in spring of 1968, Dayton and DC in spring of 1969.

We did not have a family vacation during 1967, because of family preparations for the move to Des Moines. Thus the full vacation timeline would be:

  • 1969: Dayton and DC, spring break.
  • 1968: St. Louis and Ozarks, spring break.
  • 1967: No family vacation, due to move from ND to IA.
  • 1966: Upper peninsula of Michigan, and Detroit.
  • 1965: The year I turned eleven: trip to Europe for the whole summer. I was ten years old during that trip.
  • 1964: The year I turned ten: two-week trip to Montana, including Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. I was nine years old during that two-week trip. That was the summer of bears, clanking pans, and the beast at the car’s rear window.
  • 1963, The year I turned nine: trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I was eight years old during that trip. Brian was six; David was four; Laura was two. Mom said, “No more camping trips with babies in diapers.” Well, Laura was out of diapers by the next year anyway.

That’s seven years, from childhood to youth. You have some stories to tell from these adventures to other parts of the country.