Very occasionally in the late forties, Daddy’s new job with the U.S. Customs Service in Louisville took him to Paducah to register a newly built river barge at the Ohio River boatyard there. He made the trip in a black government car with a big badge-like emblem on the side door.
A few of these trips included me as he would snatch me from a day of school to ride with him on the long drive down U.S. 60. This was before the interstate highway system was built and I don’t know how we made the 170 mile drive down there and back in a single day but we did. His actual duties at the boatyard were quickly cared for while I waited in the car as he made a physical measurement of the barge and filled out some forms.
The car didn’t have air conditioning so the windows were open in warm weather and I loved to
play with the little home made wooden propeller spinning on a stick that I held out the window.
There were no fast food places then and finding a roadside restaurant where we could get lunch
was a roll of the dice. But I don’t remember any bouts of food poisoning.
One such trip took us to a smaller river where the crossing was via a ferry. Daddy took me into the pilot house where the boat captain let me steer the ferry across once. He loved to tell the story many times over about the snake trail our wake resembled under my time at the helm that day.
Another trip involved a detour to the Kentucky Dam, which formed the largest man made lake of that day. Standing high upon the dam we watched fearfully as a slumbering fisherman in a rowboat far below discovered nearly too late that he had drifted into some very dangerous whirlpools at the foot of the dam. He wasted no time after getting his reluctant motor started again in speeding away from the danger. That was pretty exciting for a 8 year old.
Our family didn’t have the money for annual vacations or really much of any paid recreation. But those trips with Daddy to Paducah were as memorable for me as any Disneyworld or Six Flags today.