TRAVEL BUG TALES: I INHERITED MY TRAVEL BUG FROM MY MOM
I have no idea where this picture was taken, except it was somewhere in the Southwest back in 1950. My parents, Ruth and George, were traveling with my Aunt Tommie and Uncle Glenn.
Ruth & George, An Old-Fashioned Love Story
Ruth and George met on May 1, 1946 at Smith Drug Store in McKinney TX and he always celebrated it as their anniversary, because he fell in love with her the moment he saw her. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in a position to do much about it, because he was his family’s primary bread winner.
George’s dad had died several years before he met Ruth, leaving Lucy, George’s mom, alone with a handful of kids still young enough to be at home. George was the eldest and a very reliable sort of guy. He’d come home from World War II and taken over the family’s small grocery store in Melissa, TX.
Ruth and George dated for five years, mostly over the phone, because he couldn’t afford to drive from Melissa to McKinney every day and he had a grocery store to run. Ruth might not have fallen in love with my red-headed, freckle-faced father the moment she saw him, but it didn’t take her very long to decide to put all her eggs into his basket. It didn’t hurt George’s cause for him to show up for his dates with a carton of ice cream for her beloved father. George was one smart guy.
The trip to the Grand Canyon was not the first trip the two couples made together and my parents would also travel with other groups. There was always a group, because from the time I was of a very young age, I was made to understand the girls would stay in one room on these trips, while the guys bunked together in another. I’m betting Tommie and Glenn were hoping these two would hurry up and get married, so they could dump the chaperon job. I’m also guessing they footed most of the bill when the couples traveled together.
All of his life, Uncle Glenn was a very successful car salesman and back then, George was having a hard time keeping shoes on his siblings. Small town grocer is not a lucrative position when most of your customers buy on credit and rarely get around to paying their tabs. Eventually, things improved as the youngest siblings got old enough to go to work or to marry. George sold the grocery store and finally made his love connection in August of 1951.
After the grocery store was sold, Dad got a job with the government. One of my greatest treasures is a collection of letters he wrote to mom during the final weeks of their engagement. Some are from the time he spent in training in Marlin TX and the last few are from Bonham TX, his first assignment as a Canteen Officer for the Veteran Hospitals. The last few days before their marriage he was staying in the apartment they would have as their first home, eagerly awaiting his wedding day.
One of the reasons I speculate Tommie and Glenn helped financed the double-date travel is the short, economical road trip to Arkansas my parents had for their honeymoon. I’m sure George needed to get back to his new job pretty quickly, but I’m also guessing there wasn’t much money in his bank account.
Still, the pictures reflect the joy and the love the two shared. I didn’t see one of my favorites until I was cleaning out their home when they downsized to senior living. Mom grins from around the corner of a piece of furniture where she is obviously trying to hide that she’s only wearing a slip. For them it was a private moment. Today, most people would post it on Facebook.
So, though my own travels were inspired by the gorgeous ad campaign of White Puerto Rican Rum, the yearning for the road came from my own road-tripping parents. We’ll follow their tracks around the early days of their marriage next week. Come back then and visit the more carefree days of the Fifties and Sixties. Until then, you can enjoy some excerpts from my family photo albums.