The Chevrolet Corvair was produced from 1960 to 1969 and was one of the early “compact” cars. It had an air-cooled engine that was located in the rear – much like the Volkswagen which was also quite popular at the time. There was a convertible model [See photo] which is where Dad gets involved. Dad loved convertibles. Dad bought one of the early models one summer while he was on shore leave.
My parents were divorced by this time, but Dad would take us for a month in the summer if he could arrange his leave during that period. If not, we would visit his sister’s family in New York or even his brother’s family in the Canal Zone. This particular summer he sent Mom airline tickets to New York and told her to only pack pajamas as he would take us shopping up there. So Mom put my sister and I on the plane and off we went to the big city.
Dad’s grand plan was to enjoy a short visit with his sister’s family then pile the three of us – my sister, my cousin and I – into the Corvair and head off to Florida. At the time my sister was about 8 years old, I was 10 and the cousin was oldest at 12. We had a great visit, did lots of shopping and were ready to head off on this great driving adventure. We didn’t get far.
Somewhere near Williamsburg, Virginia, the Corvair’s engine blew up. While the car was being fixed, we spent several days at the Williamsburg Lodge. It had all the amenities we needed – a big swimming pool and a bar. All three of us were fascinated with swimming pools. Even though the ocean was almost at our front doorstep, we REALLY loved swimming in pools. After an early morning swim and breakfast, Dad would send us off on rented bikes to explore Colonial Williamsburg. The only dangerous traffic was horse-drawn wagons and carts so it was the perfect baby-sitter for three giggling bundles of energy. After spending the day exploring every nook and cranny of Colonial history, we would get back to the Lodge in the late afternoon, go for another swim, have dinner with Dad and then konk out in front of the television in our room. We were having a ball!
This routine continued on for several days until the local Chevrolet dealership finished the repairs to the Corvair. By this time, Dad had had all the little girls his sanity could take and he was ready to get to St. Augustine. He piled us into the car, put the top down and off we went. Virginia to Florida is a long trip on high-speed interstate highways, but back then there was only the scenic route down U.S. 1. That trip normally took two days. As the afternoon got later, we started pointing out every motel with a nice pool to help Dad make a good choice for the night. He was having none of that. He was determined to get home that day.
Sometime around midnight he pulled into the driveway and unloaded three sleepy little girls on Mom. That was our first – and last – road trip with Dad. We had a blast!
This article was originally posted March 27, 2008 at Moultrie Creek for the Carnival of Genealogy.