Saturday, December 25, 2010

Herkimer, New York

Family trips are often the high points of childhood memories, often increasing in their exoticism and sheer pleasure as viewed from the distant past. So it was with the family vacation of 1958. I was six years old and my father had just bought a beautiful 1958 Ford Fairlane and the family was embarking on a summer trip to Canada. We were headed for Nova Scotia, where there was a road the supposedly went uphill and downhill at the same time. We got as far as Herkimer, New York when my brother remarked to my father that the engine was making a funny noise.

My father said, "Just ignore it, turn up the radio!". Soon, passing a gas station, my father reluctantly turned in to get second opinion on the car.

Being only six, my memory resurfaces the next week where the family stayed at the Hotel Herkimer. Every day we walked through the park and every day my father came back from the garage with bad news. Apparently the family trip to Canada had met with a permanent dead end in Herkimer. The mechanics thanked my family for the watermelon we had left in the car. It must have tasted good that hot August day.

My brother and me were playing at the one pinball machine in the hotel when a man came out and said, "Hey kids, would you like to see a radio station?"

"Sure," my brother said. We walked around the station and the disc jockey, he looked like a spaceman with those huge headphones waved at us. Then the gentleman who gave us the tour gave us a gift of records. I still have the Conny Francis record in my collection.

Finally my father, exasperated by the fate of the car, sent me, my mother and brother to the train station where we took the train back to Hackensack, presumably through New York.

It was my first trip on a train.

The car was finally repaired, but it was a source of constant expense and aggravation during it's lifetime with the family. It was replaced in 1966 with a Ford Falcon, a much better automobile.

The family never made it to Nova Scotia. Thanks to college radio, I got to sit with headphones and wave to people while doing my air shift. The glamorous world of radio.

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