It was probably the beginning of the summer of 1966, just before I started 5th grade that we bought our pop-up camper. Before then we had camped in a tent. Our usual camping spot was on Buggs Island Lake, a 50,000 acre lake on the border of Virginia and North Carolina. The John H. Kerr Dam was built in 1953 by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control on the Roanoke River. I actually remember touring inside the dam one summer and recently read that tours are no longer offered. My uncle Torchy had a boat and taught all of us how to water ski. He and Kay and the boys usually spent at least a week and sometimes two during their summer vacation camping at the lake. My family would often go down for weekends that overlapped the week they were there.
My father bought the camper with the dream of a cross-country camping trip to California and even though that never happened we did take a two week trip in the summer of 1967. Thankfully the details of our trip to Montreal Canada for Expo ’67 are well documented in one of JBK’s family letters. On the way back we stopped in Massachusetts where I met my New England Kingsbury cousins for the first time. JBK’s younger brother Dean became the village potter in Sturbridge Village – a restored New England town, when he retired in the early 1960s. Recently, after more than 50 years with no contact, I am back in touch with some of these cousins thanks to Facebook and Blogging. Chris Pahud (son of Dean and Helen Kingsbury’s daughter Peggy) shares my interest in family history so it is fun to share our discoveries.
I remember the trip to Expo ’67 but mostly because of this picture.
I also remember meeting Lisa Gayzagian (youngest daughter of Dean and Helen’s daughter Doris) who was my age and swimming with her in the Atlantic Ocean. Aunt Helen made dolls – as in – fancy dolls with porcelain or pottery heads that she painted, some with cloth and some with clay bodies. I was enchanted by the small room in their house that had shelves on every wall lined with all different dolls Aunt Helen made (and maybe some she collected.) Even though I always thought of myself as a tomboy – I spent a fair amount of time playing with dolls. Here is a doll that Aunt Helen (really my great aunt) made and gave to me.
The highlight of the trip was the news that I had a new girl cousin – Stacy Jo Kingsbury born on August 18, 1967. I can picture standing in Dean and Helen’s house beside the phone when my mother relayed the message about Stacy’s safe arrival. (Apparently my uncle Deane called Richmond to relay the good news and my mother called us in Massachusetts.)
Here are some excerpts from JBK’s account of the trip which he wrote in the family letter on August 25, 1967:
“The most important news which reached us in Sturbridge via Richmond, is the arrival of Nancy’s baby daughter one week ago. More about that after I have talked to Deane on the phone tonight but the news that Nancy and the baby are both well was a relief and a joy.”
He goes on to describe the 12-day adventure which included two nights in motels when it was too late to set up camp, five nights in a camp northeast of Montreal and four nights in camp in Quinebog Cove near Sturbridge, MA. Of our time in Massachusetts he writes:
“Wednesday (8/23) we drove to Plymouth and found Paul, Doris and Lisa who are vacationing in Paul’s mother’s house on Priscilla Beach, on the inside of Cape Cod Bay. Lisa is a year younger than Kathy, with eyes and hair the same color (as Kathy’s) and within a few minutes they looked like lifelong friends. They swam together in the icy bay, and played hearts while we waited for a supper of barbecued chicken, pilaf, sweet corn and cherry pie.”
He concludes the account of the trip as follows:
“We left Sturbridge yesterday morning at 9:45 – a bright cool morning – and reached Richmond at 9:45 pm, the last half of the trip in a steady rain, completing our 12 day, 2500 mile safari. Bryant drove steadily without a sign of weariness, and he has just waked up after 10 hours of well-deserved sleep. Kathy, who apparently never gets tired, is singing and talking to her dogs.”
Within a week of returning from this trip, I began sixth grade at GH Reid Elementary School. From looking at my fifth grade report card (below) it appears my mother went back to work in the middle of fifth grade and I switched schools then, returning to my previous routine of going to school from Nana’s house and staying with her until my parents got off work.