Memories renewed by a simple “Honk”

Walking through the house this morning, I heard a car “honk.” I didn’t know if it was on TV or a car going by. But it brought back some memories. Perhaps you can relate.

Growing up, we lived in the country – a gravel road. Few cars went by during the day. When a car came down the road, one of us would often say, “There’s a car coming.” We stared as it went by. It was notable!

If the passerby knew us, sometimes even if he didn’t, he or she would most often “honk.” It was a “hello.” Of course, my dad and mom did the same thing as they drove. Travel was much slower in those days. Rarely did Daddy ever drive 50 mph and that was only on a big road, a “highway” like US 27 or US 12. No, he drove slowly, commenting along the way on wildlife, farmers in their fields, discussing various changes in the scenery with my mother. I learned much during those drives. Landmarks, not addresses, marked our travel.

Travel was limited. Of course, Daddy drove to work every day. He worked at Federal Mogul, and he left the house shortly before 7:30 am. The office opened at 8. He arrived home at 5:19 pm every day. Mama drove, too, when she worked. Those were the rare times we had two cars. We didn’t often make trips to town. Errands were written on paper, along with grocery lists (usually on reused, back side of envelopes), and our rare trips to town included buying groceries, laundromat (during the times Mom didn’t have an automatic washer), sometimes a trip to J.C. Penney, and occasionally a fun trip to Otto & Sons where Daddy shopped the hunting gear and we kids browsed the massive toy department.

We jumped in the car every Sunday – after church and a quick Sunday dinner – and took the long drive from our home on Quincy Grange Road in Butler Township to Grandpa and Grandma Nutt’s house on Grass Lake Road, northwest of Kinderhook. Daddy occasionally honked the horn when we arrived. There, we spent the afternoon – oh, the stories I could tell would fill a small book. But for now, I’ll only share the memories of the long drive. After hours of visiting and investigating the old barns, buildings, and garden areas with my brother and cousins, we once again hopped in the car and drove the long route back to Butler Township, to the even narrower graveled Bidwell Road to Grandpa and Grandma Locke’s house, where Daddy “tooted” the horn a bit louder, drawing our Locke cousins out from their places of play around the yard and out buildings. We spent the remainder of daylight with our Locke cousins, playing outside until the familiar whistle of the theme song of “Lassie” drew us into the living room.

My childhood travels to and from our graveled Quincy Grange Road residence centered around a vehicle, filled with a family of five, a bushel of love, and touting a horn that spoke a friendly “hello” to all. Occasionally today, I hear it – if only in my memories.

Photo is taken Summer of 1959. Mom at the wheel. Becky, my little sister and I in the back of our new yellow and white Ford Fairlane.