The Detective’s Daughter- What I Did On My Summer Vacation

kimspolicehatKim in Baltimore, lounging in the pool and sipping frozen drinks.

It was Connie Francis who taught me to spell every school child’s favorite word.
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. My mom would spin her LP’s on the stereo that Dad had bought for her at Schoefer’s Furniture and I would kneel at the coffee table coloring in my book swaying my shoulders in time to the music.

Our family took vacationing seriously. Every summer there were trips to imageAtlantic City and weekends visiting my older cousins who had summer jobs in Ocean City, Maryland. I’d spend at least one week in the country with my Aunt Esther at her cabin that she and Uncle Charlie had built themselves. It was good for a city girl like me to get out and explore the wilderness. I loved picking blueberries and learning to cook the vegetables Auntie had grown in her garden.Our vegetables at home came from the frozen food aisle at the A&P.

I was not as fond of the outhouse we used or the family of black snakes that nested nearby. Summer was my favorite season and I looked forward to each of these trips.
One summer Nana announced we were taking, what she called, a real vacation. We were going to Disney World in Florida. It was a humid, sticky morning when we boarded the Amtrak for Orlando. Nana had reserved two sleeping compartments, each with their own bathroom. I was so excited I had to throw up before we left the house.

My parents, my sister and I shared one compartment while my grandparents and Aunt Betty and Uncle Charles stayed in the other. There was a connecting door between the two that remained open for the entire ride. We ate our meals in the dining car and watched the scenery pass by in the viewing car. It was all very glamorous and I felt like Barbara Stanwyck in one of those old black and white pictures Mom and I watched in the middle of the night.

The next morning we arrived in Orlando. Dad flagged a taxi and we all piled in. I was unimpressed. This place did not look magical to me, in fact it looked a lot like Richie Highway back in Baltimore. The driver dropped us at the Days Inn where we had two suites that were actually small apartments. Our bedrooms had sliding glass doors that led to a shared patio overlooking a wide pasture. Aunt Betty went out every morning to feed and pet the horses that grazed there.image
Dad rented a car and we were off to the Magic Kingdom. Now, I’d watched Disney every Sunday night so I knew exactly how the castle should be with Tinkerbell flittering around, her wand dusting glitter over the roof. We pulled into an enormous parking lot. I’d never seen so many cars. I remember at that moment feeling both claustrophobic and exposed.

The tram took us from our car to the gate where people stood in calm, orderly lines and were greeted by friendly, smiling attendants. Finally, we were inside and I was overwhelmed with happiness. The joy I experienced at that moment of being with the people I loved most in the world in this truly magical place has yet to be matched. The park was much smaller then than it is today. It had only been open for several years when we went. I had more fun than I could possibly have time to write about in this post. We rode on the teacups, got stranded in the Small World ride for over an hour (Mom said she never wanted to hear that damn song again!), toured the Haunted Mansion, and had dinner at the Crystal Palace.

Aunt Betty, who was always a bit imagemischievous, slipped in as one of the band members and tried to walk with them in the parade on Main Street. Pop-Pop, who walked the entire park for five days with a cast on his leg, became entangled in a street vendor’s balloon display and nearly took out the poor man’s entire stock.

Too soon we were back on the train headed for Baltimore. Dad would be back to work the following day and the rest of the summer would go on just as all the summers before it.

Years later I would return to Disney World with my own children. We went to celebrate their birthdays. This time I was able to stay at a hotel in the park. From our room’s porch we were able to see a night launching of a space shuttle. A Beatles tribute band sang the birthday song to my daughter, and my son eagerly collected autographs from the characters. There was so much more to see and do five days was not enough this time.image
Summer is still my favorite season. We spend a little time by the ocean every year and sometimes I have a chance to visit my Wicked sisters in New England. I love to visit new places or old familiar haunts, anywhere, really, as long as it includes time with family and those I love.

Readers: What was your favorite childhood vacation?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Kimberly Kurth Gray. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kimberly Kurth Gray

As an editor and publisher at Level Best Books, I am always looking for a great story or new author. I am the 2009 winner of the William F. Deeck/ Malice Domestic grant for unpublished writers. My latest short story Boardwalk Bound can be found in The Boardwalk Anthology.

16 thoughts on “The Detective’s Daughter- What I Did On My Summer Vacation

  1. What lovely, vivid memories, Kim! My favorite and only summer vacation was the same every year: camping with my parents and three siblings amid the giant redwoods in Sequoia National Park in California. The stars were crystal clear and my mother taught us the constellations. We swam in the snow-melt river, hiked along mountainsides and meadows, and sang next to the campfire at night. Truly idyllic.

  2. I love your stories, Kim! My Dad was a teacher and had to have a second job most summers. But the summer after I was in second grade we took a long trip to the West, Colorado, Arizona, California and back home to Iowa. The summer after fifth grade we went East: Michigan, Niagara Falls, NYC, Washington, DC, Jamestown and Williamsburg. There’s a joke that say Iowa is an acronym for Idiots Out Wandering Around but I prefer to think it’s Intellects Out Wandering Around.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Kim! I love your descriptions! I can just see all of you traveling in the train and your grandfather getting tangled with the balloon man! I love your posts!

  4. Sometimes, Kim I feel like you grew up in an earlier era than you did. It’s the Baltimore of Diner and Tin Men.

    By complete coincidence, I, too, was once stranded on the Small World ride, only this was at the 1964 World’s Fair. I was with my mom and grandmother, and they were not amused.

    I also saw a space shuttle take off, in the daytime, though, when we took our kids to Disney World.

    • The space shuttle was an unexpected, but amazing sight! We had only been in our room about ten minutes and had yet to unpack when my husband came bursting in and demanded we all stand on the balcony. Most of the time I ignore him, but this was one time I was happy I paid attention to his boyish enthusiasm.
      The Small World incident, as it’s known in my family, was quite the scene. My sister cried most of the time we were in the tunnel, and my Aunt Betty wanted us all to try to switch seats. Pop-Pop was game, but had had enough trouble getting seated with his large cast in the first place. It was crazy! To this day whenever I want to annoy my mom I only need to hum the first few notes. “Don’t even start that sh***t.” she’ll say. She’s still not amused!

  5. I didn’t make it to Disney World until I was an adult. Something about living in California. However, we took family trips to Disneyland, which I loved.

    Even simple vacations were always fun. There’s a redwood forest we’d camp in. And there were longer trips to Canada and out to Utah and Arizona that I also loved.

    • Mark, were you camping with Edith?! I’m feeling a bit left out on this redwood camping experience especially since the only thing close to camping I’ve had is a snake infested outhouse! I’ve yet to get to Utah or Arizona, but spent a little time in New Brunswick and on Prince Edward Island. When I get to those two states, you’ll need to give me some recommendations of places to visit.

      • As far as I know, I never went camping with Edith. It’s always possible we were at the same place and time and just didn’t know it.

  6. Small World song reference cracked me up. Drives you nuts after a while. Even my moms, calmest lady on earth, would joke that she wanted to take a stick & whack one of the little figures until someone stopped that song…

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