As summertime returns, I’m sharing my summer of 1993 memories of the best family road trip ever! From Texas to NYC and stops in between, I travelled the highways of America with my parents and a childhood friend. I was ten years old and had just graduated from fifth grade.
My parents were retracing their steps with me on this trip. I missed the earlier family vacations with my older siblings because I wasn’t born. This trip was a chance for me to see important, historical places in our country. My parents caught up with old friends along the way and I showcased my Spanish-speaking skills to tourist.
We started the trip in Shreveport, LA visiting family. When going east on our family vacations we would always stop to see my Mom’s cousins in Louisiana. “Sugarman,” and his family always welcomed us with open arms. We needed a chill stop before the real trip started. In total we traveled over 4K miles on this trip!
In Washington, D.C. we toured the Clinton White House. I saw his motorcade driving once while in D.C. and knew I’d seen the President! We lined up early one weekday morning in the park. There was a white little shed/ticket booth in the park to get tickets. My parents showed their ID’s and we were given tickets for a certain time that day. It was very easy to tour the White House before terrorism and 9/11 was buzzwords in the news.
Once inside, It was surprising to see cobwebs and dust in high ceiling corners. I thought why isn’t anyone cleaning the President’s house? I was simply amazed to walk the halls of the White House. This was education in my face. Up until this point all of my education had been in a Spanish immersion program. I’d learned to celebrate Cinco De Mayo and Dieciseis de Septiembre the right way, every school year.
Memphis, TN was sad and fun. I am still upset my Parents didn’t take me to Graceland. Since I’ve gotten older I like Elvis. I’m definitely feeling the version of Elvis from the Aloha from Hawaii special. That white jumpsuit was NICE! I was upset my parents showed me a hospital for kids with cancer, St. Jude over Elvis. Full disclosure I did not have cancer as a child so I didn’t feel that was a tour stop we needed. Although I sympathize, my ten-year-old self would have benefitted from the music of Elvis far more.
Sadness came when we toured the Lorraine Motel. We didn’t go inside his hotel room but I was able to see the iconic place Dr. King stood before being killed. I remember learning that Dr. King was scheduled to stay in a hotel in Memphis but moved to a motel for safety reasons. I never found out if that was true. But till this day I only want to stay at hotels.
Traveling to NYC, I wanted to know would be near Buffalo Bills fans. I hadn’t yet been educated on just what NYC was versus NY state. Of course my Dad explained the difference and I was a little let down. We didn’t rep the Cowboys in NYC on this trip, but our license plates on our car told the story.
We walked so much on this trip! I mean we were Texas inner city black girls who didn’t walk around our neighborhood at all. We knew nothing about walking 15 city blocks, but we found out in D.C. In NYC, I don’t remember taking the subway ever. Our hotel location gave us prime access to Times Square, Herald Square and all kinds of touristy stuff. I went to one of the last Woolworth open. By 1997 they were all closed.
In 1993 Times Square was still an “Adult Paradise.” There were porn stores with video booths, sex shops, nude women shows and all kinds of different looking people to a Texas girl. I’m sure I saw my first transgender person in NYC. My mind was blown and I wondered why. When I saw Times Square again as an adult, I was slightly disappointed. But I now love to shop at Forever 21 down there so…..*shoulder shrug.*
When we hit NYC, the NBA finals were in full swing. We stayed at the Hotel Pennsylvania across from Madison Square Garden. For a Bulls/MJ fan such as myself this was the greatest! June 20th, the night the Bulls won their 3rd straight championship I was in NYC with my family. The next day we began our drive to Chicago! OH JOY! The excitement in me as we journeyed there only grew.
By this time I was no stranger to national championships. I was a veteran. A kid can dream right? But this was the Jordan. MICHAEL JORDAN! I’d written to his fan club. Later in the year I got a pair of Jordan’s for my birthday. Till this day they are the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. My Daddy got me for them!
Back to this grand vacation, I never caught a glimpse of MJ while I was in Chicago. But as a fan, to see the sights I’d only seen on TV, watching their games on WGN was priceless. I was a ten-year-old living the black kid dream! I cherished this trip. The feeling of Chicago was electric and hot as hell! Summer is my least favorite season.
Our family vacation partly centered on being in Chicago around the time of the championship. This had happened before in my family. In 1988 we went to Los Angeles and my Dad bought so much Lakers memorabilia for the men on his job. No doubt being the patriarch of the family had privileges. My Mom agreed to this so long as we could visit her kinfolks along the way.
This was a trip of a lifetime. It was an amazing road trip through so many states and cultures. We drove through the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. We also visited Little Rock & Hope, Arkansas, Front Royal, Virginia and Kansas City, Missouri. President Bill Clinton was also a theme of our trip. My parents were huge supporters of Clinton during both of his terms.
I later found out this trip also came at the perfect time for my classmate and best friend through elementary school. Her parents were in the midst of a divorce. She and I fought, cried, had fun, showed off our #blackgirlmagic and enjoyed traveling. We took a cruise around NYC, getting up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty! We enjoyed flexing our Spanish skills when we wanted to say something bad or talk about school. We had just graduated from 5th grade and would be attending different schools for the first time. This was a great girlfriends trip (before I knew they existed) to end our time together.
Sadly I have very few souvenirs, tickets stubs or pictures from this trip. But the memories in my mind will last until God says something different. My parents gave me the best summer vacation ever! They would do so again a few more times through my life.
Lately we don’t road trip as a family anymore unless it’s for a funeral. Times have changed. My parents have gotten older. I cherish the trips we have taken. I hope we get another epic family vacation soon! But if not, 1993 provides me so many damn good memories!