Central New York Research. The eclectic ramblings of doing genealogy and growing up in that part of Upstate New York that is the central and Finger Lakes regions. With ancestors all over the northeast and beyond, there will be forays outside the area with trips and news on family history as well as local history.
In 1975 Groundhog’s Day fell on a Sunday. That seems weird,
because I distinctly remember a speech about the holiday on a Saturday morning
that year. It was a holiday always celebrated in my family when I was growing
up, but not for what you might expect. That day just happened to be my father’s
It was cold and clear that morning. I could look up into the
sky and see the stars. At least if I was away from the driveway, that is. . A
very few flakes of snow were swirling around. The large floodlights on the end
of the barn were lit as well as the light at the backdoor illuminating the
driveway. It was perhaps 5:30 when the garage door went up and dad pulled the
Chrysler Newport, bought around Christmastime, out and backed it up to the
stall that was an addition onto the side of the garage. I helped him hook-up and
soon he was pulling forward with the travel trailer emerging into the driveway.
Mom came out with another load of stuff and into the trailer she went. I
returned to helping her finish loading things into the camper. Bedding, clothes
and such were already put away in the proceeding days, now we were mostly
carting food and a few personal items out.
That’s when Dad made his speech to Mom and I, which went
something, like this:
“Go use the bathroom, turn out the lights, make sure the
doors are locked. Into the backseat kiddo. I don’t want any birthday presents
or songs. Not a cake either. This Groundhog predicts spring-like weather in 3
days or less! I’m hell-bent for Florida and I don’t expect to stop until I see
that welcome to Florida sign in my rearview mirror! Let’s hit the road!”
Arrived in Florida
We drove through Pennsylvania in snow and ice in some
locations. I remember one steep incline where we creeped to the bottom along
with several tractor-trailers. It was treacherous, but the farther south we
went the better it got. By late afternoon we were over on Interstate 95 and
headed through Richmond. I remember a campground in a place called Ashland,
where there was a playground with the push type merry-go-round. I had so much
fun on it that my head was still going in circles when I laid down to sleep
Was it that night or maybe actually the next that Mom
brought out her surprise after supper was ended. Stashed away was, not a cake,
but a pie for Dad’s birthday. He always preferred pie to cake and she’d had her
birthday just the week before, so that was his usual birthday treat.
The weather was warming and we stopped the next night in
Florence, South Carolina. Something was wrong with the car and Dad was worried.
But the owners of the KOA that we stayed at told him of the dealership there
and he had the car at their service door as they opened the next morning. Whatever
was wrong, was under warranty, and they had him out within an hour free of charge
and we were on the road again. Dad talked about that for years, and though I
don’t remember what was wrong, I do remember he wrote several letters to the
dealership and Chrysler itself praising their work.
Me posing with goat at Alligator Alley
By mid-afternoon that day we were in Saint Augustine,
Florida. Here we would stay for a few days and tour and relax. After all these
years, I can’t remember how long we stayed or where we camped. However, over 3
weeks time, we saw Alligator Alley, Circus World, Disney World, Six Gun
Territory, the Citrus Tower and probably a few other places. One campground,
called Lake Maikai, had a swimming pool and it was warm enough that I went
swimming in February. This campground was built in an old orange grove and we
only had to go out behind the camper a few feet to pick fresh oranges! That
campground was a favorite of mine for many years.