In 1976 vans were not the ubiquitous mini-vans we see today no, they were full on panel trucks with windows and two massive bench seats that took the strength of two men to remove them from the cavernous metal interior.
The van was purchased with the intent of taking the entire family camping and so curtains were made for the windows, in a lovely burnt orange/early American pattern fabric, and sleeping bags were purchased and borrowed. To this day I am never sure of the wisdom behind taking a young family camping in a van but my parents thought the idea was “groovy”.
A date was set for our first official camping trip, my brother who was 2 at the time was deemed too young to accompany us to Hershey Park so he was left with family friends and the van was packed and readied.
It was just as we were about to make the 5 hour trip that it was discovered that my sister and I had nothing to sit upon as the back-seats were now ensconced in our living room. My father, with all the forethought of a man who had worked an 8 hour blue-collared job, packed a van and no doubt listened to much nagging from his three “little women” said, “Here! Let them sit on these lawn chairs!” and promptly unfolded two late model 1970s webbed lawn chairs. I believed they were squeezed between our sleeping bags and a laundry basket filled with firewood because god forbid one would pay for firewood!
Now, I’m going to let that soak in for a bit.
My sister and I plopped into the none-too-sturdy, slightly sagging chairs and off we went slowly pulling out onto our small country road. We were having a grand old time, my sister and I, looking out the windows and swinging our tiny little legs back and forth.
And then my father pulled into to traffic.
Needless to say that the chairs flipped over tossing my sister and I into the camping gear and I’m sure we wailed like well, like children who had just fallen into a laundry basket full of firewood.
My dad, being a dad looked in the review mirror AFTER we’d been thrown from the chairs and I clearly remember his saying, “Hold on!”