Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | April 22, 2010

Ringside Seat, Part II

My father and I were talking the other day about the brief time that he and my mother spent in Florida in the mid-1950s.  It seems they were there for less than a year-and-a-half, during which time I was born in a hospital that was later torn down and replaced by a superhighway.  Today, semi-trucks full of such things as oranges, strawberries, auto parts, horse manure, and the like rumble along that stretch relentlessly, no doubt in commemoration of my birth on that spot.

Dad mentioned that about four months after I was born, he and Mom loaded the car with all their earthly possessions,  placed one nearly-new baby in tow, and headed back to Michigan.  They were unsure how well this new baby would travel, but apparently he slept most of the way.  As the conversation with Dad continued, I said something to him about getting out of Florida and traveling the superhighway home, in jest of course—President Eisenhower had signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 only months earlier, and the interstate highway system that we take for granted today (part of which would soon slash through the very spot where I was born) had not yet been built back in 1956.

In the mid-50s, if you traveled from Michigan to Florida, you moved through the countryside swapping one back-road for another in the manner of a monkey moving through the jungle swinging from vine to vine—not a very efficient way to get where you were going, but an effective way nonetheless. And these roads ran through little hamlets and medium-size towns strung along them like popcorn on a Christmas garland. Each burg had something special to offer, some little piece—or two or three—of what we collectively call “Americana.”

What a country it was! This was the America so many of us want to remember, even though, ironically, most of us baby-boomers were too young to have really known this America. It is unfortunate, however, that we don’t work a bit at finding this America. It is still there, and all it takes to find it is a determination to exit the interstate, throw the GPS out the window, and take every turn that looks like it may lead to adventure.

Next time: Sputnik, the original seven, and Kennedy.



  1. Wow–I never knew you were born under a highway in Florida! Just when you think you know a guy….

    Dan and I took “every turn that looks like it may lead to adventure” last fall coming home from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. What is normally a 50-minute drive down I-75, took us 9 hours! LOL We explored Raber, Goetzville, Cedarville, Detour and many obscure back roads in-between. Fun day when you’ve time to follow a whim.

    BTW, I’ve noticed your last few post have been spent reminiscing about the good ol’ days… a sure sign we’re getting old! 😉

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