Feb 3, 2013

The Sunday Drive

My family wasn't much for recreation.  My father worked six days a week, from early morning till early evening.  We did go for a long car ride on Sundays.  Back then gasoline was cheap, and having no destination wasn't thought of as wasteful.  Children were more content to sit in back seat and look out the window, now they want a video screen in the vehicle.

Even children's play then involved more imagination and interaction.  Howdy Doody was just a puppet on strings,who spend most of his time talking to an adult, Buffalo Bob, can you imagine?

 Sitting in that back seat in the mid fifties, I might well had

my "coonskin" hat with me.  Fess Parker was a genuine American hero.  It mattered little if he played both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, both were king of the wild frontier.  The ride probably lasted for two hours and then we would go to a restaurant to eat dinner.  Compared to now, there were very few restaurants.

My mother would cook all the other meals that week, and we probably ate out more than most.  Supermarkets were the new rage in food shopping, but the butcher, baker and candle stick maker were still going strong.  If my father headed west or south, chances are we ended up at Shankweiler's Hotel, famous for chicken and waffles.   They were at the intersection of Old 22 and Route 100.  The building still exists and currently is a bank.  The family also owned another hotel on Route 309.  Both locations also operated adjoining Drive-In movies.

If my father headed north or east,  we would end up at Walp's, which was on the corner of Union Blvd. and Airport Road.  Walp's was a much more urban place.   While Shankweiler's was an old country inn,  Walp's was built as a modern restaurant.  I enjoyed those rides, they were a learning experience.

reprinted from May 2010


Anonymous said...

A decade later, I was in the back seat of my family's Chevy using the unbuckled seat belt as a "Bernie the Bunyup" puppet, inspired by either Gene London or Sally Starr.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. That is a neat family car.

I am from the coal region and my father was an independent coal hauler. His father died when he was young and at age 16 he bought a truck anddelivered coal to support his family. He load up before school and deliver after school. If he did not have a scheduled delivery, he would peddle coal. He spoke of selling coal on credit to Bankers, imagine that. Our WWII generation grew up quickly.

My father would deliver on Saturday and sometimes Sunday. If he got home early, we would sometimes take a trip to Knoebel’s Grove in his red International Coal truck. You could hear us coming a mile away descending the hill of the original park entrance. It wasn’t flattering then, but I wish I could do it today.

My father also had a Plymouth Fury. It was shiny black with red interior. That thing was a tank. He parked it in the alley and it was our 3rd base. You could hit it with a ball with no evidence of a dent. The curved doors acted just like carnival mirrors and could make you look fat and skinny. I recall the AM radio crackling when you drove under power lines or when there was lightening.

It seems like there was a church picnic every other weekend. Sometimes it was just outside of town up on the hill in what was called the “Polish Poconos.” A cheap get away if you could not afford the real thing. The music of choice were polkas of course ---- with favorite songs like the “Beer Barrel Polka” and “In Heaven there is No Beer.” Guess that is why there was no shortage of beer at the church picnic.

Anonymous said...

The "Good Old Days" weren't as good and easy as some would imagine, but they were slow going and peaceful. Families and Community really meant something back then. I grew up as a young man during World War Two, and shipped out overseas to Europe during the '50's. Returning here to Allentown the end of 1969. To be one of the last of the Wholesale Distributors for Freeman's Dairy during the end of the "Hey Days" for Downtown/Center City Allentown.
Thanks for the Memories again Michael.....PJF

Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein said...


I came back to the Lehigh Valley after a long time south of the Mason Dixon line. On Friday, my first stop was Yocco's off of Airport Road. Had two dogs with everything, an order of pierogies, a double cheese-burger with mushrooms, and a large Cherry Coke. My G.I. system wasn't right the whole weekend. But boy did it taste sooo good!