The Sunday Drives
by Russ Lancaster
Before 1950, owning a family car was a rite mostly reserved for the rich in our Hamlet and all the other Hamlet's around the USA. And owning ONE was something to be proud of. If someone owned two, well... you know, they were super rich and not many folks fit that category.
We got our first one around that time, 1950 or so. It was used, a 1947 or 1948 Chevrolet. I remember going to school (I was about 8 at the time) and telling one of my friends whose family had owned a car already about our "new" car.
When he found out it was used, he wasn't too impressed. But, I was impressed and so was the rest of my family. My dad owned a car. No more walks to the grocery store. We had done that forever, it was a family thing. Now we could actually drive somewhere. That old car was beautiful to us, it was big. It had a radio. It had an overhang out over the windshield. We had a car!
Then something else new was introduced into our lives... the Sunday drive. Sunday's at our house were typical of most of Hamlet's residents as I remember it. Up early in the morning then off to Sunday School and Church. After church, we would go home and take off our "Sunday" clothes and get comfortable playing our games and such while smelling the aroma of Sunday dinner coming from the kitchen. My mom made the kind of Sunday dinners we loved. Typically it would be fried chicken, mashed potatoes, a few vegetables, iced tea and the best home made biscuits you ever ate. Just smelling it being prepared would whet our appetites to the bursting point.
Setting the table was a ritual and was one of the things I was taught to do properly. Knives, forks, spoons had to be in their proper places. Glasses were always to the right and filled nearly to the brim with the thirst quenching iced tea. It had to look just right. Most Sundays we would have company over for that dinner so manners also had to be minded. You knew in advance which piece(s) of chicken you were allowed, how many and which items you could have seconds of. After the meal, if there were any biscuits left over, we poured the thick brown Karo syrup over them in our plates. It was a great tasting dessert.
After taking a hand in helping clear the table and washing or drying the dishes, the adults would occupy the living room or the outdoor porch in nice weather taking another glass of tea with them. They would sit for an hour or so talking, smoking a cigarette (guess that's where I got my habit from) and just letting that good old Sunday dinner settle for a while. We kids didn't need the settling down process, we knew what was coming next. The Sunday drive.
Sure enough, after an hour or so, the guests would depart, Dad would tell us to get ready, and off we were to the car, each of us having proclaimed the right seat for ourselves. Window seats were prime and being the oldest I usually got one of them. Our drives took us to places too far to walk each Sunday and to places we had no idea existed. It could be the gravel pits in Anson County, Gun Swamp Lake, the Airport, just out to the woods in places with no names. To Indian Mound in Moore County, to Blewitt Falls, to the apple orchards at Windblow, to Aberdeen Lake, to Cheraw Beach, yes, even to Rockingham. These are places most of you regular readers know about and remember but probably haven't thought about in a long, long time. Those were the destinations of our Sunday drives.... those places and many more that are just out of reach of my memory.
But, I'm sure you and your families of the 50's also experienced those Sunday drives and the thrill of not knowing in advance where you were going. Those were special times, family times. They were times when values were taught, right from wrong, how to love one another, those types of things. Because the Sunday drives were never silent. They were times when families were close, when we listened to one another really caring and learning. They were the times when we first learned of the beauty of the leaves turning in late October, the crystal clearness of spring water bubbling from some unknown source deep underground. The times of seeing a wild deer or fox and tasting the freedom they felt. The times of taking the family dog for a return trip to the wild from whence all dogs once came. The times of learning of beggar lice on your socks, the times of feeling the coldness of an unnamed lake in an unnamed forest. Those were the best of times for many of us.
If you have children or grandchildren who never saw those wonders or experienced the awe of an automobile ride on a dirt road where houses were few and far between, if you have children or grandchildren who never had the closeness of a real Sunday ride with no air conditioning or billboards to spoil the view of untouched forests, share those memories with them. Let them know how it was, let them know that you, like I...... Remember those Sunday drives... and best of all... I Remember Hamlet.
This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.
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