We didn’t have the luxury of minivans when the boys were small. What we did have was a 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon: long, sleek, solid and hunter green with imitation “woodie” trim.

Our wagon was certainly big enough to accommodate three growing boys and a baby in a portable crib (anchored down on the back seat) with plenty of room to spare.  This set-up certainly wouldn’t pass safety regulations of today but it was the norm for that time period.

Last week while driving home on 84 after a rousing Fourth of July celebration with my nieces and nephews, I could see fireworks in the sky ahead of me. I thought back to celebrations of the past when my boys were very young.

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We, and many other families, had just the perfect spot to enjoy the fireworks in White Plains without lugging kids, etc. to a local venue.  Instead, we parked on Mamaroneck Avenue by the Gedney fields, behind the old White Plains High School where the fireworks would originate. We had to arrive early because available parking spots filled up fast.

By the time we arrived at Gedney, the wagon was loaded for a trip cross country, for heaven’s sake. The kids in their pajamas were gathered in the back; pillows were placed strategically and the youngest usually had his favorite stuffed toy. With all the windows in the car, everyone had a clear vision of this spectacular occasion. Most important however were the snacks! I think those were probably more important to the boys than pillows and stuffed toys. For sure, the vacuum cleaner worked overtime the next day.

With the windows rolled down, we had a wonderful view of the blasts of color and heard the booming sound effects of fireworks being set off. At the end of this stunning extravaganza when the sky was peppered with many bursts of color and the loud “boom, boom, boom” sound effects, our youngest usually found his way into the front seat with us hugging his Winnie the Pooh:

“Mommy, I don’t like the loud noise, it’s hurting my ears and scaring me!”

Once safely settled between us (remember bench seats?) he covered his ears and enjoyed the spectacular ending to a fun family experience.

Our Country Squire, packed to the limit with kids, Mom and some assorted boxes followed the moving van as it took us from White Plains to Vermont. Once settled in our new home, we discovered a drive-in movie theater not too far from us. The drill was repeated: kids in pajamas, pillows, stuffed toys and snacks. More family togetherness and memories.

Many cars have followed:  Dodge Coronet wagon, T-Bird, Camry, Durango, Chrysler 300 and Ford Edge to name a few. The Squire was our first honest-to-goodness family car and that made it special. So special that when the time came, it was sold to a young couple with one child and another on the way thus continuing its journey as a dedicated member of the family.