Editor’s note: This monthly column, The Generation Gap, runs exclusively in the Midweek edition. This week’s columnists are Linda Ray, 74, of Argentine Township and Shelby Runyan, 26, of Howell, formerly employed in Fenton with many local family members.
Ray is retired from a professional media career, most recently after 17 years at WJRT ABC-12. She has been married to Danny Ray for 25 years and has two sons, Ger Hoffman of Nashville, Tennessee and Eric Hoffman of New York City.
Runyan is employed at Lake Trust Credit Union in Howell and was formerly a manager at Eclections in Fenton. She has been married to Evan since 2017 and the couple has a golden doodle named Betty.
I’m the second oldest of six children of Paul and Helen Hogard who came from Arkansas and Missouri, respectively. I went to school in Grand Blanc.
On Easter vacation, before it was changed to Spring Break, we’d pile into the old Chevy station wagon and head down to Corning, Arkansas to visit our aunt, uncle and cousins.
Paula, being the oldest, always got a window seat. I, next in line, got the other window. Gloria, the little girl, was in the middle and the two older boys, Larry and Jerry, were in the back on a sleeping bag. Gary was in front, standing up with his hand on Daddy’s shoulder. This was, of course, before you had to have all toddlers or infants in car seats.
Mama would have a thermos jug filled with water between her feet. As we rolled along, we played “I spy something blue” (or another color), then everyone tried to guess what we were seeing. Often Larry and Jerry would start a ruckus in the back and Dad would say with a raised voice, “I can stop this car,” which was code for “Knock it off now!”
Mama and Daddy were terrific singers and they would harmonize all the way down and all the way back. Often we kids would join in. If Daddy got tired, he’d pull over to a rest stop and nap on a picnic table.
When we got to Arkansas, we went to a cottage on the Black River, swam and had campfires at night. Daddy and my uncle would tell all kinds of stories about them growing up. They also sang songs and harmonized beautifully. We also watched our Cousin Billy play baseball.
On our way home, Aunt Alene sent a picnic lunch with us, Mama filled the water jug and off we headed. We didn’t have fancy expensive resort vacations, but we had rich, warm experiences, something money can’t buy.
During my elementary and middle school years, it was called Easter vacation and when I got into high school, it was switched to Spring Break.
We’d usually go camping and visit my grandma and my aunts and uncles. We’d spend weekends together as a family, with our cousins. We’d have an Easter egg hunt and go to church together.
We took my parents’ mini van when we went camping. We’d sing old country songs on the drive. Now, anytime those songs come on the radio, it reminds us of those trips. My dad didn’t believe in having a camper so we had to rough-it in tents. My siblings and I loved making hobo pies and the campfire and eating s’mores.
During my high school years, I started going to Florida with my friends and their families. We went to Orlando one year and to Daytona Beach another year. We also took some family trips to Kalahari Waterpark in Ohio.
During college, I used to work during my Spring Breaks at Eclections in Fenton.