When I was young, traveling meant driving in the family’s large, four-door brown Oldsmobile. We had assigned seats to prevent fighting among us four kids. My spot was behind Dad, the driver. My baby sister sat next to me, and my older little sister sat behind Mom. My baby brother sat in the middle up front, between Dad and Mom, where he couldn’t get into any trouble.
When I was older, traveling meant riding in a coach bus with a group of peers.
During two of my university’s spring breaks in early March, I traveled with the Concert Choir on tour. Mornings were taken up with driving, playing Euchre to pass the time, and trying to avoid the bathroom at the back of the bus. Afternoons were spent rehearsing, and when evening came, we performed our concerts. It seemed to me that the temperature of the churches during the afternoon rehearsals was usually chilly; I suppose the heat was set low to save on heating costs.
Before our concerts, we would don our choir robes. Girls were required to wear dresses, black ballet slippers and pantyhose under those robes. We filed out into the chancel of the church, took our places on the risers, and kept our eyes on our baton wielding, white-goateed conductor. The wide, open space of the church would have warmed up for the evening, and at times was a little too warm. We were all in fear of fainting on those narrow risers, and consciously kept our knees unlocked. The joy of singing filled us all as our voices filled the sanctuary with warm tones and interweaving harmonies.
After the concerts, it was time to meet our hosts for the night. We would pair up with our roommates and our hosts would drive us to their homes for a place to sleep. The good hosts would stay up and talk with us, feed us, and show us to our room. Sometimes (and we grumbled about this) we weren’t given anything to eat before we were shown to our beds. Sometimes we received a little something as a memento of our visit. For the most part, our hosts were generous and kind.
On the days that our next destination was close by and we didn’t need to drive much, we were able to sight see. We were given strict orders to return to the bus by a certain time, and then we were set free. I remember wandering around downtown Boston with a few of my friends. We shopped in historical Quincy Market, but being poor college students didn’t allow us to buy much. We began to search for a place to eat lunch. Somehow we stumbled upon a small doorway which opened to a narrow staircase. At the top of the stairs was a very small Italian restaurant with tables covered in white tablecloths. We seemed to be the only customers, and weren’t sure that the place was even open. But then out from the kitchen came a bustling large woman with an Italian accent. She showed us to a table, took our orders, and went back into the kitchen to prepare our meals. When my plate arrived, it was filled to the brim with piles of thick, homemade fettuccine smothered with the creamiest, most wonderful alfredo sauce I have ever eaten. For years afterward, at every Italian restaurant I ordered the fettuccine alfredo, hoping to find some as delicious as that homemade entree I was served that day in Boston. Nothing has come close!
During my two tours with the choir, I was able to see Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, D.C., Colonial Williamsburg, and Monticello. I had so much fun traveling with friends and seeing new places; however, even traveling gets old.
On the last tour I went on, at the last church we sang at, I was in for a surprise. When I saw my host for the night, I burst into tears of exhaustion and joy…my aunt and cousin had come to take me to their house! For some reason (my poor sense of geography) I didn’t realize our last stop on the tour was close to my aunt and uncle’s house. After spending so much time on the road, what a relief it was to stay in a familiar house with my beloved family!
After ten days of traveling, rehearsing, and singing, I was ready to go home, but being a part of those two choir tours was a wonderful experience. It could very well be the reason that I feel eager to travel when I hear my husband announce, “Road Trip!”
I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the third post out of six.