Next to Daddy

I’ve always loved a road trip. When I was a little girl, my family would take long cross-country road trips in the summertime. Our Oldsmobile station wagon would be packed tight and loaded down with every little thing that our Mom could think of that 4 girls could possibly need while traveling away from home. My Dad did all the driving, and I guess since I was the youngest and smallest of the 4 sisters, I was relegated to the front seat between my Mother and Daddy (back when cars had a bench front seat.)

But honestly, this was my favorite place to ride, next to Daddy. To pass the time on long drives, my Dad would sing. Mother would often join in harmony, and sometimes we all sang along. We sang songs in a round like “Row, Row, Row your Boat.” And Daddy always sang, “Old Man River” or “Red Sails in the Sunset.” He would sing a line and then we would all echo.  Sometimes he and I would sing together while everyone else in the car slept. I always tried hard to stay awake. I was afraid that if I fell asleep I would miss something in the ever-changing landscape, as we rolled through small towns, big cities, and the mountains, past winding rivers and sleepy farms. I loved those road trips sitting next to Daddy.  

In the summer of 1970, The Carpenter’s song, “Close to You,” was all over the radio. That summer, my Dad rented a big U-Haul truck to help my Grandad move from Abilene, Texas to John Day, Oregon, and he brought along my sister and me for the ride. We were probably 10 and 12 years old.

To us, this was a grand adventure. I remember bouncing around in that big old truck cab that seemed so high up above all the other cars and singing along to the radio, and everytime “Close to You” came on we’d turn it up loud and sing along. We sang, “Ahhhh…Close to You” all the way to Oregon and back. Singing and riding next to Daddy.   

I still love a road trip. And I still love to turn up the radio and sing along.  Maybe it’s in my blood.