My friend and I recently took a road trip just a little north of where we live to look at some property, and I gotta tell ya….. There’s just something really cool about driving down dirt roads. When the dust kicks up, and folks can hear someone coming from a ways away, people lift up their heads to wave even if they don’t know you – it just has a way of taking me back in time.
Back in time – to my good old days………
I grew up in Redford Township, and one of mine and my siblings’ favorite things to do was was “go out to the farm.” When we’d get up on a Saturday morning and find out we would be making the long trip out to St. Clair, we’d get so excited!
Aunt Iris and Uncle Ed lived on what to me seemed like a farm straight out of a storybook, complete with horses, including one named Penny, as well as cows, chickens, stray cats in the barn, a big willow tree whose branches I’d swing from for hours, and a pet duck named Dinky.
But that’s not all. She also had a good old-fashioned clothes line!
It was a long drive from Redford to St. Clair, and the anticipation was almost overwhelming. When we’d pull in and hear that crunching sound our big blue Oldsmobile tires would make when they hit those white driveway stones, Larry, Nancy, and I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. We knew that a whole day full of adventures one can only experience out in the country awaited us. My cousins Gary, Steve, and Tom would light off rockets and we’d chase them out into the field. Following Tom and taking a short cut through the barn to be one of the first to find it one year was not as slick of an idea as we’d thought. My shirt got caught on a nail as I was trying to climb the barn door and I fell, breaking my arm. I sure gave my guardian angel a run for her money that day. She couldn’t stop me – but I’m not sure I’d trade that memory for anything.
We’d ride Penny the pony with cousin Jackie, go to watch cousin Ann play softball, and put pennies on the track across the street and wait all too impatiently for the train to come by and flatten them. The boys would go get them after the train had gone by.
A chest of drawers in the corner of the living room was always full of treasures – coloring books, Tiddly Winks, and Tinker Toys were everyone’s favorites. Aunt Iris left us a couple of years ago, but I’ll be willing to bet that those tinker toys are still down in the bottom drawer. She was prepared for whoever would visit. I loved that about Aunt Iris.
Venus fly traps, little plants whose leaves would close when you touched them, and every kind of plant you can imagine – Aunt Iris had them all. She nurtured them and kept them alive and pretty. Before she died she gave me a piece of a pink and green plant that neither of us could identify. She’d gotten it from a recent plant clipping at the doctor’s office she said. She was always good at nurturing plants and animals back to life.
Before leaving for home, we all had to make one more trip to the bathroom while my Dad stood and shook his keys reminding Mum that we’d better hit the road soon. I’d always peek out from the little bathroom window, past the clothesline, and into the farm behind Aunt Iris and Uncle Ed’s house, and think to myself, “I just love this place. I just love it so much.”
We’d load the car up with all of the fruits and vegetables Aunt Iris would give Mum – Michigan tomatoes for BLT’s and cucumbers for canning pickles were my favorite, of course! Then we’d pull out of the driveway and hear that crunching sound of our big blue Oldsmobile’s tires on the white stones again, and wave to our cousins all the way down Range Road, and around the corner until the next time we’d go to the farm.
Nowadays, I don’t stop for a train, drive down a dirt road, or even eat a dill pickle without remembering those visits.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many different places, and even several countries. I’ve traveled near and far, but those childhood memories that cost my parents nothing more than perhaps a half tank of gas have by far remained the most memorable. There’s much to see in so many different places, but there’s just nothing better than time with the people we love, and of course – especially when they involve a dirt road, a bologna and pickle sandwich, and Dinky the Duck.
Livernois Bologna & Pickle Sandwich Recipe: Grind up some bologna in a meat grinder hooked to the side of your table. You have to use one of these because it’s just fun, okay? Hey – a recipe is a recipe. If you don’t use one, I can’t promise it will taste the way that it’s supposed to. Anyways – then use Miracle Whip to make it like a spread and add sweet pickle relish. Add all ingredients to your taste and then spread it on some white bread and dig in. Goes well with some orange pop and a dill pickle wrapped in a paper towel. They are delicious, I promise!