#WQWWC – #Writers Quote Wednesday #Writing Challenge – Memories


To this day, I have the most fond memories of some of my old toys – Michael Keaton

You might think this post is about my daughter and her favorite summer toy from childhood, the sprinkler, but you’d be wrong.

See that big honking 25 foot motor home…the one dwarfing my Ford Torino station wagon?  That was my mother’s toy box. They carried around their bicycles in the back, making it easier to ride around a campground or to a grocery store nearby.

My dad emptying the contents of the bathroom into a septic tank at a campground

My dad emptying the contents of the bathroom into a septic tank at a campground

Mom loved living near Phoenix Arizona in the 1940’s.  My father wanted to move to Florida and, thinking of it as an adventure, she drove from Arizona to Florida by herself.   Before you say “ho-hum, lots of women do that,”  it was just after WWII.  There were no cell phones, the best highways were more like today’s paved back roads, and the worst were dirt paths.  Motels were scarce, and a woman traveling alone faced the danger of being considered “loose.” I can tell you for a fact; when mom was angry, no man wanted to cross that line. but in her understated way of explaining things it’s evident that at least one of them tried.

She hated South Florida from the very beginning.  Highway 1 didn’t have much of a beach view, she called that her “first disappointment.” There were few apartments for rent and they had to live in an efficiency for 4 years, until homes for returning GI’s were built and they were assigned one.  The only person related to my dad that mom could stand was his sister, Mary.

Side view Hialeah Dr house 1963 001

We lived in a 3 bedroom concrete block house with a tiny kitchen, a dining area that barely held a  4-person table, and a living room that crowded into it 2 easy chairs, a TV, a trash can, and an upright piano.  

Mom wanted to become an artist.  During the 25 years they were stuck in South Florida, she pursued her dreams by taking a  “Famous Artists” correspondence course and art classes at a 2-year college.  Today, my son and his family enjoy her paintings in their home. 

She wanted to design her own home, with lots of space.  She took an architectural rendering class.  For the past 23 years, I’ve been living in the home she designed and built.

But more than anything else, mom wanted to travel.  

My father had a 5th grade education and worked menial jobs.  Most of their married life, my parents never knew how much money dad was going to bring in.  Mom saved enough to pay the bills each month and pay off the mortgage in 20 years.

When dad was out of work, she used their savings instead of asking for welfare.  They were down to their last $10 when my father took a job as a janitor for the post office.  

I don’t have the vision, patience or talent to save pennies like my mom did, all I can tell you is that even during the worst of times she continued paying on an acre of land in North Florida. 

My dad was forced into early retirement due to an on-the-job injury.  It was 1973, during a slump in housing sales. and it was almost impossible to sell a home.  They found a buyer, but the interest rates were much too high.  No problem!  My parents agreed to be the mortgage holders in order to sell the house, using the down-payment and monthly payments to purchase the only motor home my mother would look at.  

Mom dad traveling Oregon 1977

This is one of my favorite pictures of mom, enjoying a trip to Oregon in 1977.  You can feel her joy!  

Lest you think the curvature of her body is a trick of photography, when she passed away in 1993, her skin was as elastic and smooth from the neck down as the body of a 30-year-old.  Sad to say, my sister and I inherited our father’s skin.

But alas, I digress.

The motor home contained no wood.  It was all metal, and built to last. She designed the interior and the company built it for her.   The entire rear of the motor home was a king-sized bed that could be turned into 2 couches.  

Mom used to say, “I like carrying around my own toys.”

It helps to have the talent to design your toys, the patience to budget for them, and the perseverance to find a way to realize your dreams.