Vacationing Grandparents – Evolving Through Time

Vacationing Grandparents – Evolving Through Time
Spending time with my kids and grandkids was both entertaining and eye-opening during our annual vacation in North Carolina's Outer Banks this summer. I also had the chance to relax and reflect back on a few things that had taken place in my lifetime. As if a wave smacked me in the face, I suddenly realized, "Hey, I'm a grandparent! When did that happen?" Then I began to ask myself if my grandparents would have been able to comprehend that whole vacation and the planning that went with it.

My grandparents lived most of their lives in the early 1900's and witnessed many changes in technology, science and medicine, but there are numerous, new happenings that they would not be able to grasp.

Please allow me the opportunity to describe a few vacation activities that our grandparents would never, in a million years, understand

Like departing at 3:00 in the morning and then driving to Nags Head, NC . Forget it; they would never have gotten into the car.

Booking the vacation online, and speaking with the representative on the phone, who spoke relatively little English, would have kept grandma and grandpap sitting contentedly on the front porch in central PA, while wondering how the rest of us were enjoying our vacation.

Pre-vacation preparations like purchasing a new watch battery, stocking up on sunscreen, and taking the cat to the vet surely would have confused grandma. I can see her just shaking her head in disbelief if she was told that those chores had to be done before we left. Yet, we took them for granted, never giving them a second thought.

Selecting a kennel for the dog and purchasing bottled water may have sent my grandparents into cardiac distress. How could they possibly understand someone agreeing to pay good money for water? After all, the water in their well was free.

Being a part of America's Melting Pot, my grandparents spoke a variety of broken-English. They fully understood the various backgrounds of the people that settled here. But, the heavy foreign presence in the MacDonald's in Quantico would have made them feel uncomfortable. I can imagine hearing my Grandma Mitchell say something like, "Oh Jesus and Mary, ("Yay-zoos Maria"), please take me back home." That is, if they would have gotten out of the car there and the more I think about it, they probably would not have, unless they had to make a restroom stop.

Keep in mind, we were only four hours on the road, and only half way to our destination. If my son was driving with Ipod earplugs or a headset, grandma may have asked us to send her back home via bus. And how could that generation possibly understand using a cell phone in the car? Or worse yet, talking on the phone using a head-set microphone so one's hands would be free to steer?

I imagined trying to hide all these questionable activities from them while making the trek, but I do know that any attempts would have been fruitless. Who knows? They may not have been in the car in the first place.

Now, if gram and pap did indeed reach the Outer Banks, their confusion would only get worse. I can visualize my pap, possibly hiding his smile while we ordered hot wings at HOOTERS, but Grammy may have demanded to "get me the hell out of here." And her demands would have had nothing to do with the hot sauce.

With our restaurant meal, I'm guessing my grandparents may have ordered a beer or wine as a beverage. It was part of their culture and none of them frowned upon someone having a drink in public. But when my son and daughter ordered a Belgian-brewed beer, imported into the country at twice the cost of a domestic beer they would have had a tough time understanding that. Combine that order with the fact that I was footing the bill, while drinking a cheap Busch draft myself, may have pushed my grandparents into some kind of seizure.

Upon arrival at the rental house, the 14 of us unpacked and the adults immediately investigated the internet connections. The air conditioning was next, followed by the sound system, the large screen televisions and the cable channels that came along with it. We also looked over the hot tub, the fax machine, the auto-lock doors, the three refrigerators and two micro-waves and burglar alarm.

Our ages ran the gamut from 56 years (mine) to age 1 (my grandson). But none of us gave a second thought to having all those amenities. We simply took them for granted and were happy that they were included in our package. Our grandparents would have only been familiar with the refrigerators, but still would have questioned the number of them.

While watching TV and waiting for lunch, I happened to catch a commercial that has been on the tube numerous times lately. The advertisement consists of about six men, playing instruments in a band, while they all sing VIVA VIAGRA. I looked around the room, and all the adults seemed oblivious to the TV screen (perhaps not wanting to draw attention to it). Luckily, none of the kids even gave it a glance. Then, that hit me too, that gram and pap would have asked what the commercial was all about and of course, we would have had to do some quick thinking to come up with a story that would satisfy them and keep them content.


To conclude like a David Letterman list, the absolute most questionable activity that my grandparents would not have been able to understand was our restaurant choice during our third day at the shore. The women of the house, (which included my wife, herself a Baba or grandma) decided to go to DIRTY DICK'S CRAB HOUSE. They called ahead and reserved a large table for all of us.

Combine this restaurant choice with their T-shirt slogan, "I got my crabs at DIRTY DICK'S in Nags Head" and you have the grand finale of vacation frivolities that would have terminated all further grandparents' participation in any future vacation plans.


To all baby boomers' grandparents I can see now why you always asked, "What is going on in today's world?" It's obviously changing much too quickly.

We miss you all, and may God forever bless you.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA