Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: FAMILY VACATION (07/30/15)
- TITLE: Captivating Cocoa Beach
By Trudy Newell
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The phone rang. It was a hot Tuesday morning in July, already 90 degrees at 10 a.m. Good ole Dallas in the summertime. Dad was on the phone. The one-sided conversation went like this.
“Hi, Honey. Everything okay?"
“You have got to be joking! Well, let me think. I don’t know if we can leave that quickly. There’s six of us, plus a dog! Won’t they give you another couple of days to get there?"
“Okay, I see what you mean. In that case, let’s go for it. We haven’t had a family vacation for quite a while."
All four of us kids, and Sparks (our dog) were crammed in the kitchen by the phone. What in the world was going on?
“Mom,” asked Charles, “What’s this with dad?”
“Get ready for a surprise. We leave for Cocoa Beach, FL in two hours.”
“What, are you kidding?”
“No, I’m not. Dad has to be at Cape Canaveral for a special assignment by Thursday morning. Get packing.”
All of us had more questions than answers.
Shirlee had the most stuff to put together.
“Why do you need six pairs of shoes for three weeks?” I kidded. She stuffed her make up in a cosmetic bag while I giggled. “Who’s going to see you on the beach?”
“Marie, stop it, you might just be surprised! Keep your thoughts to yourself, and pack your things the way you want.”
At fourteen I was still somewhat of a tomboy, and couldn’t see the point in trying to look ornamental.
By noon we were all in the car loaded to the hilt with suitcases, sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and a dog who wanted the whole back seat. Then it was Interstate 20 – and the coast of Florida.
We did an all-nighter on the road, with dad, mom, and Charles taking turns at the wheel. We stopped in Tallahassee for breakfast at 7 a.m. Later that afternoon we arrived in Cocoa Beach, excited and exhausted. Dad found a great place rights on the beach which we rented by the week. By 7 p.m. we were somewhat settled in, and were eating our first ever McDonalds. We chunked down the fifteen cent hamburgers with gusto.
There are precious memories of our time at Cocoa Beach.
I have vivid images of running out to the beach early in the morning. We were beachcombers and collected seashells by the dozen.
One day at a nearby cove we found some beautiful shells, and started to pick them up. All of a sudden we saw movement. The shells were alive. I had already collected some of the shells in my pocket. I’m sure people heard the shrieks all the way back in Dallas, as we girls danced around tossing them back in the water.
Attending church proved an experience. The first Sunday morning we found a nearby church. Other than the preacher, we were the only ones with a Bible. As we rode home, eight year old Patricia piped up, “What does Shakespeare have to do with the Bible?”
So we tried a different church that evening. It was different alright. We didn’t go back.
We stumbled upon a small church the next Sunday that proved to be just right for us. The preaching was great, the music uplifting, and the people friendly.
Then there was Shirlee dragging Jerry into our place so we could meet him. He was on vacation with his family and they were renting the beach house just next to us. Jerry was in the service, and would leave for France shortly.
Charles gave Jerry the third degree. He didn’t want his sister getting mixed up with the wrong guy.
Then Jerry quizzed Shirlee.
“Where do you go to church? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Because I don’t date girls who do!”
As I watched them, Jerry grew serious. “Why are you laughing? This is no joking matter.” He started to walk away.
“Jerry, please, wait! I’m not laughing because I think it’s funny. It’s just that the tables are turned. I have always had to ask my date these questions.”
I liked Jerry. He took me with Shirlee in the evenings. He was fun, and sometimes he treated me to ice cream.
Shirlee brought home a diamond. Two years later she flew over to France to marry Jerry.
Cocoa Beach was a turning point for all of us. It was also our last vacation together as a family.
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