A trip to Nags Head was a challenge for we three kids sharing the back seat with this big, energetic dog and I know it was worse for my older sister and brother who needed more room. If I was relegated to the floor, which was not unusual, I made do but then Laddie would nudge them to the floor as well and we just couldn’t fit like that. Invariably, Mom got involved as Dad told her to take care of it so that he could safely drive. On one occasion, Laddie wouldn’t move and Mom told Dad to find a place to pull over so she could open the back door and get things arranged better. This was in the very early days of the 1950’s and there weren’t many places to pull off on US 17 for we were going through the Dismal Swamp, north of the Carolina line. The road was narrow and nearly empty that evening and things were pitch black. Suddenly, Mom saw some bright lights and told him to turn into the service station we were approaching on the left. She thought she found the solution.
Dad protested that there was no service station along the stretch of highway, but to no avail with Mom who was now upset with Laddie, we children and even Dad. As he slowed, suddenly he realized the service station was moving and it wasn’t a service station at all but a big rig truck heading north. Mom apologized, Dad accepted it but did comment that he should have known better and thereon the silence was deafening. What’s more, the sudden realization that we almost turned into a truck roaring by by got to me and this little boy had to pee. Finally, Dad found one of the small picnic table areas along the highway and I needed to pee. I ran to the edge of the grassy area and took care of my problem with a sigh. Mom got the backseat and Laddie rearranged and as I prepared to go back to the car, Dad just casually said that he was glad we didn’t run into a black bear. My eyes opened wide, he laughed and said he was teasing but also said that I shouldn’t tell my mother about it.
It remained eerily quiet in the car most of the remainder of the trip, but when we arrived and let Laddie run free for a few minutes, Dad turned to Mom, took her in his arms and said, “I love you.” Things were then back to normal again. Now this situation was just a little thing, but it’s funny how the little things just come back to you later. I guess it’s all because of the memories that having a loving Mom and Dad in your life bring to back to life. I am very fortunate to have such fond memories and many of them are part of my book, “Summers at Old Nags Head.”