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Vacation Time: 1969

Vacation Time: 1969

Leaving Walnut, CA for Wyoming and Nebraska in July 1969. I'm on the left, trying to look cool, going to start high school in the fall. Yikes, those socks!

There's my Dad and Mom, who appeared in earlier pictures. They're showing some age progression. Both are in their early 40s here. My little brother was a surly bundle of anti-joy then, and he whined a lot through the whole trip.

We packed up the '64 Chevelle wagon and left for the great unknown. As a surly teen, I read a lot of books along the way and grunted and moaned a lot. During the trip, we heard about the Charles Manson family murders in Los Angeles, and being only 30 or so miles away, I was really scared to come home.

It all worked out ... thanks for looking and I look forward to your comments. View full size.

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Sometimes things don't change

The socks may be a little bit high, and shorts a bit short, but the way you are dressed is exactly the way many kids at my middle/high school dress now. Especially the ones going into high school, I'm just stunned by how similar you are. I could actually almost confuse you with my younger brother, who is so similar he even has blond hair.

Right now I'm planning a road trip in my 1968 Ford Falcon for the spring, its a 4 door sedan and not a wagon. But it is a daily driver kind of car, not a show car, so I drive it in the same way your parents might have driven their car, not to show off, but just to get around.

And the year before

And the year prior to this photo my family, consisting of myself at 13, my sisters aged 10 and 4 (or 5) loaded up in a 2 door Marquis and headed from Raleigh up through Indiana, SD, WY Oregon down through LA and back east across the desert through AZ, NM, TX and driving one marathon from Texarkana to Anderson SC in one day, during the peace marches throughout the South that summer! I still remember passing the civil rights marchers for mile after mile on the roads through MS, AL and GA. The trip took two months.... and you think YOU heard whining from your brother?

Hi Barrydale

Sugar Sugar is a favorite of mine to this day. The San Gabriel Valley has changed a lot since those days, eh?

Our imitation wagon

We did not have a wagon so Dad cut a piece of plywood for the back seat of our 57 Mercury that gave us kids a full flat surface in the back seat. Holding it up were two coolers on the floor. On top Dad blew up two air mattresses, then they gave us "kiddy drugs" (gravol). They caught onto that after the first trip in which that back seat became a wrestling arena.

Almost had the wagon...

Our family was cursed to miss out on having station wagon vacations - first time in '65, we were supposed to be getting a red '62 Corvair wagon from my uncle who was going into the Air Force but he hit some black ice and rolled it while he was delivering it from back east (he was unhurt). Next in '66 we traded our rusted-out '56 Chevy for a beige '63 Dodge 440 eight-passenger wagon; I was looking forward riding in the third seat on our annual trip from Chicago to Paducah, but a lady in a '62 Continental hit it. We ended up with a maroon '65 Impala hardtop for the next several years' vacations, but at least it had AC!


Our family of six and a dog would pile into our '63 Lincoln and while sitting in the driveway Dad would ask Mom, "Okay, where do you all want to go?" Then we would be off to Nova Scotia or Florida. There was no AC in either the Lincoln or the '63 Impala we had so we would drive the whole way with windows open in the summer heat. If you turned the vent windows all the way open so they were facing into the car they would generate a terrific amount of airflow into the cabin at highway speed. It was quite comfortable actually and 40+ years later I wish cars still had those vent windows.

Lunar summer

Several have mentioned the Apollo 11 landing. I have a similar tale. I was 7, just a little too young to understand the significance of the event. I remember my mother trying to keep me interested as she sat on the edge of her seat watching the coverage. Now I'm glad I remember that night, and get chills watching the video and Walter Cronkite taking off his glasses and saying "Whoo boy!" totally at a loss for words. That was an awesome summer!

Oh yeah, we had a station wagon too. '69 Caprice Estate with fake wood paneling!


Love the car. In high school, a wagon was an embarrassment. Now I wish I had one.

Great Time To Be Alive

Sure brings back memories!! I started HS in '68. We went on many, many driving vacations to New Mexico, Colorado, OK, MO & many places near the Panhandle of Texas where I grew up!! Road trips now are usually to the coast or TX Hill Country, but still have a magic to them, leaving before the sun's up!!

"The Box" - Rooftop Carrier

Our family trips were always in a station wagon, and always with "the box" on top. Dad built and refined a series of boxes over the years. They were much larger and taller than the one in the picture. All our luggage, supplies etc went in "the box" leaving the wagon for the 6 of us. With the back seat folded down my brother and I could sleep in sleeping bags in the back. In the winter dad put brackets on the box sides and bungee-tied all our skis on. The station wagons themselves were amazing. Dad always bought the biggest engine offered (we needed it), a large v8. The last wagon had dual air conditioners, front and rear. And how about the rear doors on a wagon. The rear door folded down or opened from the side, and the window went up and down. SUVs, get serious, they have very little useful space.

Hi Pat Q

Your recollections are so evocative of those road trips from another time. Life seemed simpler, or is it just filtered through our nostalgia screen?

Cartop carrier

Man, I want one of those roof carriers. Looks like it holds a lot of stuff.

No fair

I suspect one of the reasons the younger brother is looking so crabby is that he didn't get sunglasses like everybody else. It's no fun to squint all day.

Tterrace is completely right, roadtrips just aren't the same without a big ol' station wagon. I loved sitting in the rear-facing seat when I was a kid. And I remember being fascinated by the tailgate that could open two ways: swinging from the left-side hinge or folding down like a pickup truck.

Memories abound

Our vacations were exactly the same (even my dad's socks with sandals). We headed from our Fountain Valley Ca home like thieves in the night. Had to get across the desert before the heat killed the kids. Of course we had an aftermarket AC installed by Sears so the front seat was a chill zone (no kids allowed). Our vacations happened at breakneck speed but we saw everything and always ended our trips with a pass through Vegas for Dad & Grandma. Fun times!


I was 14 years old that summer of 1969 (living in Cocoa Beach, Florida). I can relate to the yellow socks. I had a few pair of those. The color of the socks were supposed to match the color of the shirt. It looks like those are a freshly cut-off pair of jeans. What's in your father's right shirt pocket? A lens cover, maybe? Who took the photo? I see the car in the garage across the street looks like a '68 Chevy Impala--round taillights. And the Rambler in the next drive looks very nice too. A little peek of the mountain is nice too. I've never been to that area so I have no conception of what it's like there. Great photo, thanks for sharing a piece of your childhood memory.


Ah, Summer of '69, my favorite year. Got my driver's license. Got my FCC Third Phone. Started work part time in a REAL radio station.

My parents ran their own store so we couldn't take too many trips. I'm jealous of those of you who did.

And yes, Nebraska was borrrring to ride across back then, but today it isn't bad -- there are several interesting attractions across the state and a nice Interstate to zip you through!

Wagon Memories

Our 1957 Mercury Colony Park station wagon with the Turnpike Cruiser engine had a similarly slanted rear window. On our trip to California later that year, Pop decided to drive on through the final night to miss the desert heat, with us kids sleeping in the back. I discovered I could position myself to see the road ahead as a reflection in the rear window, while simultaneously looking through the glass to watch the clear Western skies for shooting stars. What can beat the cozy feeling of slipping off to sleep while rolling along the open road while Pop faithfully pilots the family bus through the dark?

When station wagons ruled the road

Each summer, Dad would load up the gear in the suction-cup equipped, stamped steel Western-Auto roof carrier on top of the old '61 Ford Falcon wagon and off we'd go. Looking back, it truly took faith and fortitude to pile a family of five and enough gear to support a safari in that underpowered, unairconditioned two-door wagon and set off fron Louisville to the far reaches of the country (New York City, Washington D.C., Miami). I remember fighting with my brothers over the desirable real estate in the back of the wagon where you could stretch out (no seatbelts) and watch the miles of highway fade into the distance through the tailgate window!

The Summer of '69

Grew up in La Puente, not far from Walnut. My 1969 was the the summer of "Sugar, Sugar" and Man on the Moon. 41 years ago -- WOW

Chilling News

We too were leaving for our vacation on our way from Diamond Bar (not too far from Walnut) to visit the grandparents in "Idyllic Larkspur" (near San Francisco) when we heard all about the Tate-LaBianca murders on the car radio. It definitely put a damper on the trip for us adults. With the three kids squabbling in the back of our VW van (Mom, she looked at me!), I don't know if they heard any of it or not. Our oldest kid was 9, the middle one 6, and the youngest 4. -- tterrace's sister

Mom's "Hat"

That's no hat, it's a curler-cover. A la Phyllis Diller.

A different era

In '69, my dad was making probably about $18K-$20K a year. My mom stayed home. Yet we took similar vacations, 2-3 weeks at a time.

Now, my wife and I work like rented mules and can't afford to go anywhere.


When I saw your brother, the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil came to mind!

That Rambler

belonged to the superintendent of our school district! He and my dad knew each other causally, to say hi to or wave at as the car went by.

I don't recall if we had AC in that car. It had a small engine and was seriously underpowered for hills and mountains.

Now, I'll try to did up slides of our earlier trips in my granddad's borrowed 1959 Chevy Nomad wagon! This was truly a luxury barge on wheels. This thing looked like it was 15 feet wide and 25 feet long (to my 8 year old eyes). I had the entire back area to myself and my comic books, as little bro wasn't on the scene yet.

We went after the moon landing

I actually watched it on my little black and white TV in my room. I was a space geek then (and now).


Fun vacation

Nebraska? For a vacation? I drove through that state. Couldn't get out fast enough. I was only 3 in 1969, but lived in nearby Simi Valley, home of Spahn Ranch. What city was this taken?? Oh yeah, love your mom's hat. I have pics somewhere of my mom wearing the same thing. What were people thinking??


Was not this the year of the PLAID ?

To the Moon!

I started high school in 1969, too.

Did your trip start before or after the moon landing? Did your parents make you watch it on TV, even though you wanted to be out with your friends? That was a surly moment for ME for that reason.

Don't worry -- the shades and the hair in your eyes make up for the socks.

You were scared?

I was terrified! I was 11 years old at the time of the Manson murders and lived only 20 miles away. In my 11 year old mind, I was convinced the murderers would find their way to my house and they were specifically go after me!

Thanks for posting this. This photo captures the "feel" of L.A. suburbia of the era perfectly- just as I remembered it.


Ditch the socks and you'd fit in perfectly with today's Williamsburg hipsters.

Meanwhile ...

At the beginning of that very same month we were on our way back from Los Angeles in a white 1965 Impala wagon with no AC and a ton of camping equipment both on the roof and in the back. We stayed in Reno on the Fourth, hoping that the drunken manager of the KOA there wouldn't accidentally back over our tent. I was more or less inured to the lack of cool, even back in Maryland, and I think the only time we really noticed it on the trip was when it was over a hundred crossing the Mojave. The Impala was passed on to my great-uncle who drove it until it dropped sometime in the mid-1970s.

By 1969 we had left short haircuts behind, which since I had thick glasses meant I looked totally dorky in a completely different way; my father, on the other hand, was well into leaving hair itself behind. I notice you're wearing the de rigueur cutoffs, which is pretty much what we wore when we weren't in jeans.


We used our '69 Pontiac Catalina station wagon to put the gear in the middle and the whiny kids waaaay back on the rear-facing seat. Man, I loved that car!

Love Your Mom's Hat!

I think you looked quite cool for an "almost" high schooler! Your mom's hat is the best! I bet she's pinching your little brother. Or maybe that was just my mom!

Black socks with sandals

My wife thinks I invented that look. I can't wait to show her that it's retro chic.

Adler socks

I bet they were Adler socks. I graduated from high school the year before and it was all the rage to wear Adler socks in colors that matched your shirt.


Your shoes are in style about every 8 years or so. Just keep the shoes and wait for them to come back.

Your dad's dark socks (with shorts), on the other hand ...

West of the Midwest

Wyoming AND Nebraska? You are a lucky, lucky boy. One of our few vacations from our Indiana home was a trip to Iowa but since my dad was on some sort of a deadline* we didn't get to enjoy any of Illinois' diversions that must surely have existed along I-80, or so I dreamed. Departing from Walnut, CA, mvsman must have seen plenty of I-80 as well on his "Asphalt of America" tour.

*Who has a deadline on a trip to Iowa? It was only 250 miles!

Vacations in a wagon

You know, vacations just aren't vacations without a station wagon. Sorry, but an SUV just isn't the same thing. Folks across the street have a 1965 Rambler Classic Cross-Country; ours was a 1966. Did you have air-conditioning? Maybe that would have quelled the grumbling and moaning somewhat. I know that we welcomed the A/C in our Rambler after 10 years without it in our '56. But now, decades later, I'll occasionally switch mine off and roll down the windows when cruising along a rural road, and the breeze carrying the aromas of cut hay and other vegetation fills me with a warm, nostalgic glow. A great, era-defining shot, thanks! (Out of respect for your mother, I won't comment on her headgear - although I just did, didn't I?)

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