Sunday Afternoon Drives
Written Fall 2010
What ever happened to the Sunday afternoon drive? As a young girl, I recall my dad saying after the beef roast, after the dishes, and after an afternoon nap, “Let’s go for a ride!” Mom always looked excited at the unknown adventure that lie ahead and quickly reminded me to take my sweater. So the two of us made a habit of grabbing our cable knit sweaters, mine just a smaller version of Mom’s. We never knew where Daddy was going to drive, although his vehicles always seemed fond of “the Ridge” and the Morwood area. Daddy liked to scout out game for his fall hunting and loved seeing the open countryside.
It often seemed like we ended up at someone’s house for a visit, but we never planned or called ahead. Daddy would just say, “Let’s see who is home and maybe if they’re home we’ll stop in for a visit.” If they weren’t home, we usually got out and did an obligatory walk around their garden, checking out their beans or their corn to see if they “had come up” better than ours.
Wellington Cassel’s, Harvey Freed’s, Bill Meyers’s or Uncle Marvin’s were all possibilities. But for some reason, I remember most vividly stopping in on Paul and Betty Clemmer. They were always gracious and invited us in as if they were expecting our visit.
Mom and Daddy would settle in the living room after a walk around the outside of the Clemmer homestead. Daddy and Paul were usually laughing their way through a greeting while Mom and Betty were issuing warm words of encouragement. Paul and Daddy had traveled together as young men and loved to recount a fabled trip to Eastern Mennonite School when the car was stricken with vapor lock. Paul loved to hear Daddy recount deer hunting stories from the Benner men’s escapades in Tioga County and Paul in turn would tell a peculiar story or two that ended up sounding more like a joke than a story. They seemed to feed off of each other’s zest for life.
Betty never forgot about the fact that no other children were around and would bring out a box of games and toys that I might enjoy. I always appreciated her thoughtfulness. I also looked forward to her bringing around a tray of refreshments after an hour or two. First, were the drinks and then the tray of snacks. For some reason their food and drinks always tasted so much better than what we had at home. They seemed to have the latest crackers or snacks that my mom would never buy.
I also remember going for outings with Paul and Betty like a picnic supper to Audubon or Valley Forge to see the dogwoods. Betty and Paul not only enjoyed my parents but would engage me in conversations, wanting to hear about school or things that interested me. At times, Betty would also bring along extra bread for me to feed the geese or ducks along the way.
I have fond memories of these Sunday afternoon traditions and wish we still went out for relaxing, aimless drives around the countryside. These times instilled in me the joy in the spontaneity of life and the thrill in finding friends along the way to share it with.