The summer after third grade, my parents took our Brady Bunch-esque family on what seemed like a month long vacation (the Chevy Chase movie isn’t so far off). My parents, two stepbrothers, sister and I loaded into our shiny red Pontiac Station Wagon with luggage tied on top and a big Coleman cooler in the back.
Before we pulled out of the driveway, we had already fought over who would get to sit next to a window or in the coveted front seat. My sister, Amy, was a smart little kid. She figured out early that if she claimed permanent car sickness she could secure a seat in front, next to the air conditioning vent.
I usually sat in the middle or in the back back, as we called it. My older stepbrother (who shall remain nameless😉) tended to be a gassy lad and no seat in the car had immunity.
“Are we there yet?” became a running joke with our parents. No matter how close we were, they would always say “five more minutes”. We’d whine back, “You said that five minutes ago!”
We drove from Washington State to Salem, Oregon where we visited our Auntie Jeanne’s family. From there we drove to Reno, where our mother was raised. Then to California. We spent several days at Disneyland, followed by Knott’s Berry Farm.
We went to San Diego where we spent time with our super cool, single Uncle Timmy who had long hair, a mustache and a pierced ear. We also visited Sea World and the Zoo.
Then we drove to Tijuana where 7 year old Amy floored the family with her bartering skills (if you read the comments in my Recipe For Rain post, you will see that Amy has a track record for getting a bang for her buck). I spent my life savings, paying top dollar, on 3 or 4 silver and turquoise rings. I wanted one for every finger.
We visited New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana where we stayed with our grandparents and met up with our Uncle David’s family.
We stayed in a gorgeous two-story hotel room with a sweeping staircase in the French Quarter and took etiquette lessons from the Maître d’ at a French restaurant.
On our way back to Washington, we spent some time in Arizona and then drove through Oregon for one more visit with Auntie Jeanne’s family before concluding our vacation.
For something spine-tingling to do, our cousins came up with the bold idea of Doorbell Ditching. The people they chose to do this to were named the Hippys. Mr. Hippy was a menacing junior high school teacher. We were breathless imagining how intolerant and dangerous he was.
The gaggle of door bell ditchers included my two cousins, two stepbrothers, my little sister and me. Our ages ranged from 7 to 14. I had just turned 9.
The less brave ditchers stayed on the sidewalk, ready to run, positioned in a lunge formation, pointing away from the house. I was daring and either knocked on the door or stood beside the one who knocked.
We must have been loitering outside the house for a while because as fast as we knocked, Mr. Hippy opened the door and chased after us.
My gassy stepbrother, who was tall, athletic and ran on the track team, grabbed my hand to get me to run faster. My little legs couldn’t pace with his. When my legs came out from under me, he kept hold of my hand and didn’t let go. I saw each concrete sidewalk square, as my face scraped toward the next.
My screams were silenced by our pack’s massive load of adrenaline. Everyone, but me, was oblivious to my raw hand, elbow, knees and face.
When we returned to the safety of home, the adults convinced me that if I went to the hospital I would have to get shots, so I chose to have all four of them hold me down to scrub the tiny pebbles and grit from my wounds.
This was me a few days later
The first day of Fourth Grade!
24 thoughts on “Doorbell Ditching”
You are an amazing writer, Melissa. And with an amazing memory. What a fun trip to take with you!
I can relate to the first day of school pic. When I was five, I cut my bangs diagonally up to about a quarter inch from my head. It was the day before our kindergarten pictures.
I want to see a picture of those bangs! I bet your mom was so mad! Was I the only kid who didn’t do that? Once I had no more dolls’ hair to cut, I started cutting everyone else’s. I’m surprised I never cut yours!
Oh Melissa, Why am I not surprised that you were one of the ones ‘standing close to the door!’…..
Oh my dear, your poor little tiny face! Dale has been ‘patient’ with you thru a LOT of stuff, eh?
( and Jan too!) Well, we knew there was probably ‘no grass growing under your feet’, from little right on up to Eisehnhower High, on up, eh?
love and hugs to you and thankx for sharing…..Janet B
💕I was definitely active! Not hyper, but active.
Oh my, what a cute story. Sorry about the fall. When I was about 12, took my bike to ride at my cousins, we were supposed to stay away from the main road, so at the bottom of the hill, I braked. Flew over my handle bars and ended up belly sliding through sand and pebbles. I was covered from head to toe in scrapes and blood. My mom being a nurse put me in the bathtub. Ouch. She determined I would live and that was that. Still have the scars. 🙂
Sandy! I so feel your pain! We are bonded forever with our road rash experiences! I have been told that the center of the body is the most sensitive to pain, so I can’t imagine how awful that was on your tummy; especially breathing, coughing, sneezing, stretching, moving, wearing clothes, bathing… Ouch!
A few years after I had the doorbell ditching accident, I did what you did, but I was skateboarding down a steep hill. I landed skidding on my chest, and must have rolled to my shoulder and elbow. The pain was excruciating as I skidded enough to wear a hole through my shirt and bra. I nearly lost an important part of my female anatomy… no joke. I tense up and hold my breath remembering the pain.
Hugs to you new friend!
Glad to hear your female anatomy remained intact. Knew there was a reason we bonded. Hugs my friend.
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Love this story! And super love the pictures. I felt like I was on vacation with all of you as I read this.
Do you remember seeing me like that? Why did I have to be a picker? Between that and Chicken Pox. My poor face!
I can’t stop laughing!!
My job is done! 🤗 Miss you sweet girlfriend!
Holy cow! You poor thing!!
As for the vacation… We went on one very similar. My sentiments! Ha ha ha !
Nancy, I think you and I have a lot in common!
I am grateful my parents liked to travel and explore. Every kid should have (get😉) to travel like that with their family. Those memories have provided a lot of laughter. We also learned a lot about geography, as well as regional cultures.
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Remember the camper trips? Our lucky/smart parents didn’t have to listen to us fight, because they stashed us all in the camper while traveling down the road. Now days, I don’t think that’s legal. I’ll never forget the “gassy” brother liked his showers. I can’t believe we never got pulled over when water from the shower drain splashed down the California highway…Those were the days!
I don’t remember any of that, campers have storage tanks for waste water, so I’m hoping the cap was on when we were on the highway! What I do remember is you and me doing karaoke to The Eagles (singing “Woo hoo Witchy Woman” and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”into the shower head… 😂). I think you are referring to the other brother.
Miss memory… I can’t believe you don’t remember that! The cap wasn’t on, or whatever is supposed to hold the water in. I remember thinking he was such a rebel showering while we were driving like that. Then the water gushing on the road made it all the more dramatic.
We spent so much time in our “camper”. Dad’s truck with a canopy on the back. There was a sliding window between the truck and the back and I have no idea how my parents kept from going crazy as we banged away at that window in an effort to tattle on each other and get them to referee our battles. I remember one of our favorite things to do was put candy rocks under Kristen if she fell asleep and then tell her that she had laid eggs. That kept us endlessly entertained. Go figure.
I sort of remember the Candy Rocks trick you pulled on Kristen. When you were describing the canopy, I thought you were my blogging girlfriend Nancy. I was about to type back to her and say that sounds like deja vu to me. No wonder! I have a feeling I was there a few of those times! I think your dad’s truck had a sliding window and the canopy had a sliding window, so the cab was somewhat insulated from all of your narcing and knocking!
Do you remember riding in the back of Dale’s powder blue 1950s or 1960s pick up? We sometimes were in the bed of the truck, sitting on lawn chairs, driving down the highway, wrapped in sleeping bags in the winter!
Amy, I vaguely do remember the water coming out. It was like a one time situation. Now that you mention the shower and the “rebel” thought… yes, that’s familiar! 😘
Nancy, that made me laugh! Poor Kristen! We had a lot of good memories being hauled around in the back of Eddie’s truck. His canopy was the coolest!
Melissa, I remember making a big bed with pillows and blankets in the back of Dale’s truck and riding to the beach as we watched the stars. It’s crazy to think that it didn’t occur to anyone that it might be a bit dangerous. 🙂
Amy, what made the canopy extra cool were the little curtains my mom made for the windows and the door. So posh!
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Thankfully, we never got in a wreck. Those were refreshing, cozy, exhilarating, peaceful and dreamy rides. I wish everyone could get to do that just once in their lives.
Thanks for all those horrible childhood memories Mel. It reminded me of the time I was sitting on the back of the Flexy Flyer racing down our steep asphalt street. As I tumbled off of it and was dragged down the street, in my bathing suit no less, I felt every piece of gritty asphalt embedding itself into my 6 year old body. I don’t remember much but that is forever ingrained into my memory banks. Maybe it’s our shared childhood traumas that speak to our hearts, knowing we are understood by each other, and therefore will be Girlfriends forever!! So glad I can look back and laugh about it now. These are the life experiences that have made us “Warrior Women.” Yippee!! 😜
I hurt all over thinking of you in a swim suit and wrecking on asphalt as a tender 6 year old girl!! How painful! Do you have scars?
Did you read the comment from Sandy above? She had a bad road rash accident too!
No wonder, we are Warriors with sense! I am brave and sensible when it comes to endangering my body with high risk activities.