Family Vacations

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My first remembrance of a family vacation was a week at Beach Haven on Long Beach Island. The Profy’s rented a bay side house with the Mignoni’s. I think we did this for several years. One of my strongest memories is that of my father driving the store truck with baby cribs, beach chairs, even a refrigerator (the one in the house wasn’t enough for both families).  The house was on the bayside of Beach Haven; every year we went to a 5 & 10 store to buy some beach toys; a movie theatre several blocks away provided rainy day activity. I remember cousin Bill and I crawling through a large sewer pipe, fishing for flounder (although this may be the memory of a photograph).  There was always a trip to Barnegat Light and the Lucy Evelyn, a beached ship turned into a gift shop.  There was also minature golf.  But most of our time was spent in the sand and sun.

For many years after this there were no family vacations.  In late elementary and high school, I was in the Boy Scouts.  There was always camping trips.  Some local, canoeing in the Pine Barrens or Delaware River and canal.  Jamborees at Valley Forge and an annual week at Camp Ockinican in Upper Bucks.  One year I did a two week leadership training at Schiff Camp in New Jersey.  The girls got only one vacation that I know of these years, my father took them to an amusement park on Long Island and a few days with Aunt Carol and Uncle Albert in Flushing.  During my years in college and immediately afterwards, my parents rented a house on LBI.  Famous was the night mother called the police to find Vicky.  In her senior year she followed the tradition of renting a beach house for the summer with several girlfriends.

During the ski season, Uncle Frank and Aunt Ellen rented a cabin in the Poconos.  I was invited several weekend each month.  An extended family vacation.  Uncle Frank bought me my first (used rentals) skis in Trenton.  The boots were black leather lace ups; wooden, plastic coated skis. Very high tec.

Nothing like a family vacation during my years at Boston College.  By my Junior year, Diane and I were married.  Any vacations were probably visits to Bristol and Carmel.

In the early 1970s, we took some camping trips.  The first was to coastal Delaware.  We had sleeping bags and I had a Boy Scout green canvas tent.  It started to pour.  Our Lab, Luz, huddled under a picnic table.  The water rushed in soaking our sleeping bags. We bundled up the bags and climbed into the station wagon.  Then the chiggers, no see ems, struck.  I went to the showers and it was filled with guys escaping the rain and chiggers. Quite a night.  Next morning we hit a laundry mat to dry the sleeping bags and Diane announced “No camping until we got a good tent.”  I bought her a colorful Northface  tepee for her birthday. That summer, however,  we left Delaware and crashed for a few days with my sister Vicky, a HS student, who was  renting in Avalon for the summer.

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There were several New England camping-visiting trip.  One to visit cousin Ellen in Burlington Vermont.  Several to the New Hampshire, White Mountains.  I vividly remember on one trip while Diane prepared dinner, I started up a small trail.  In about 1/2 hour I was above tree line.  A new experience, a new vista. I ran back to the camp so excited to share my discovery.  This was also the trip raccoons drove us out of our tent to sleep in the car, while they ransacked the campsite.  Don’t remember what we cooked that night.

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In 1974, Diane and I spent the entire summer with Garett and Melody Bonnema in Bethel, ME.  They had bought a large rambling house with attached barn for their pottery studio and home.  Diane did a bit of pottery; I helped Garrett with some carpentry.  The pace of life in ME was new.  We were always busy, loading  or unloading a kiln, packing up for a craft show but there was plenty of down time.  We hiked in the White Mountains several times a week.  Neighbors stopped by with instruments for a jam or someone called asking us to help raise some logs on a new cabin or move a piano.  Very laid back, low key.

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In August  I signed up for a photographic workshop at the Maine Photographic Workshops.  It was a new  “school” established in Rockport by David Lyman.  I spent a week on an island (sailed there) with Bill Curtsinger,  a National Geographic Photographer.  Bill taught me composition and light.  Back in Rockport we developed our slides and spent two days in critique sessions. In late August we said good by to Bonnemas and headed back to Bucks County.

In 1975, I went back to Rockport for two different workshops.  The first with another Geographic photographer, Bruce Dale.  Dale taught me how to shoot people and do photo essays.  The second class was with Ernst Haas, an internationally famous photographer whose class focused on”color.”  While I was in ME, Diane made a short trip with her parents to Columbia.  It was a business trip for Mr. Smith.

With my developing interest in photography, we planned a trip to Great Britan in 1976.  I got a press pass from Pat Smith who worked for the Inquirer.  For me the trip was the first of travel documentation, meeting people with camera.  I wrote several short articles for the Inquirer.  It was soon after this trip that I began to send and sell a few photographs through stock agencies — H Armstrong Roberts in Philadelphia and Shostal in New York.

In 1977 with Barbara Cavanaugh, HGP  sponsored a student trip to Munich, Germany.  I went over days before the students to become familiar with the city. I even rented a bus and driver to take us outside the city.  Diane met us in Munich and when Barbara and the students returned home, Diane and I spent several weeks driving through Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France. I considered this trip exploratory.  We would return.  I think we flew home from Amsterdam at different times.

This was the last of what might be labeled our summer vacation before the birth of Jenny.  Now we had a family and vacations would take on a different flavor.

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