When my kids were young, we didn’t take many vacations. Most of our adventures occurred in and around our neighborhood on a daily basis. We took short trips to visit relatives; we drove along Edgewater Drive and admired the stately houses with the wide lawns. Or we over drove to Rossi’s Custard stand and had ice cream.
Our ritual upon returning to West 73rd Street was always the same. When we reached the top of the street, all of the kids started to chant: “Down the lake! Down the lake!”
That was the signal for my husband to bypass our house and continue driving to the bottom of our dead-end street where we parked in front of the railroad tracks and rolled down the windows waiting for the trains to pass. Each of my children tried to guess the color of the caboose. There was a lot of flailing and yelling if someone called out the same color as his or her brother or sister.
My husband’s response was always the same. “Don’t make me turn around, or I’ll caboose you.”
Most guessing games ended peacefully with everyone waving frantically at the flag man who always managed to poke his head out of the back door of the caboose and wave back.
I am amazed at the simple things that brought such delight to my kids. Even a trip up 65th Street to the Stockyards was an adventure. Not as much for my kids as it was for the cows I would imagine.
I mean, how many cars full of kids pull up to a cattle pen and moo? My daughter likes to joke that the weekly trip to the stockyards was as close as we were going to get to a trip to the country. And she was right.
I remember one time Guido asked if he could get out of the car and pet the cows.
And my husband asked, “Guido, can you read that sign on the fence?”
“Sure!” Guido said proudly. “Closed to the public.”
“Well there you have it, son. Closed to the public,” my husband repeated for emphasis.
But Guido quickly responded, “That’s okay dad. We’re Catholic.”