Our family vacations were always to visit relatives or friends. We never stayed in motels, nor did they when they visited us. It was just the culture in our family. Our hosts always found room for us.
This was a challenge when we visited one of Dad’s childhood friends, Larry Money and his family in Michigan. They had ten kids (though one tragically died young), and they always lived in a farmhouse. With so many kids and a farm to roam, Don and I always looked forward to these trips.
Usually there were multiple kids in every bed, and an array of cots, couches, and pallets. That was half the fun. No one ever complained. I do remember one winter visit when I slept alone in a tiny room that had a small windowpane missing. It got very cold in the middle of the night. I put on my coat and gathered every other cloth item I could find and piled them on top of me.
On another trip I ended up sleeping with my Dad. The next morning he said I “flopped like a fish all night long.” Only time I remember ever sleeping with him!
Several times our parents allowed Don and I to stay a week or so with the Moneys. These were always very memorable visits. Sometimes we had chores, like picking weeds in the field, but the day was filled with laughter.
They had an old hand-cranked corn shucker/sheller machine, which fascinated me. Once I spent much of the afternoon cranking a full bushel of shelled corn. Larry was so impressed that he reached into his pocket and gave me 13 pennies! I really wasn’t expecting anything, but I found the amount amusing. Keep the day job!
One year we arrived to find Larry and his kids were busy digging a basement under their house. They needed more room. Imagine that! He had dug an entrance under one side of the house and completed a 10-foot wide trench down the middle. It was deep enough we could stand in it.
At night he would insert sticks of dynamite into the side, light it, and chunks of earth would be loosened. We would spend the next day loading the dirt into wheelbarrows and hauling it out. Great story to tell the first day of school when asked, “What did you do this summer?”