Days of old / Días de antaño

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I don’t like when people my age and younger refer to themselves as old. If we’re lucky (or maybe not lucky) we’ve got a number of decades remaining on this damaged planet and I refuse to consider myself old for 20 or 30 years. However, when I look through my photo archives and find photos from a trip I took with my family in 1975 — 47 years ago — when I was already an adult, I must admit I’m not as young as I used to be.

My parents decided that summer to visit my sister and her family (my niece was less than 2 at the time). They lived in Germany, two hours from Amsterdam and right on the border of Belgium. My father invited me along, his treat. I said “no thanks.” I was living up in Brockport, New York, where I was in school during the year. I couldn’t imagine spending a month traveling with my parents. My friends thought I was nuts to turn down a free trip to Europe and finally convinced me to go. “So, you ditch them once you get there,” they said.

It turns out my parents, with whom I had at the time a very strained relationship, were a lot of fun to travel with. They were interested in everything and were very relaxed travelers. My sister, on the other hand, only wanted to shop. She was never one to turn down a handout from our parents. My father and I had never gotten along so well for such an extended period.

We started in Amsterdam where my sister, brother-in-law, and niece joined us for several days. My father rented a Volkswagen T2 bus and we tooled around the area, finally driving to their house where I spent a couple of weeks before going back to Amsterdam on my own to stay with a friend who spent summers there since her father moved his ad agency from New York.

I remember the moment every photo was taken. The first below was in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg — a beautiful day trip from my sister’s house. The second was taken at Caves Zonneberg, in Maastricht, Belgium. The caves were originally for marble quarrying but came in very handy as shelters (and hiding places for valuables) during World War II. The final photo was taken at castle gardens in Germany, Schloss Brühl. I can’t believe we behaved like such hideous tourists.

It was unusually hot that summer (temperatures over 32˚C / 90˚F). The van of course didn’t have air conditioning and we had no water for the adults during our trip to Luxemburg. We stopped at an inn in Germany on the way home and ordered whatever was coldest. We had Bittburger beer. I never saw my mother drink beer. She relished it and said it was the best thing she had ever tasted. She and Dale peed in the woods a short while later. Another first.


No me gusta cuando las personas de mi edad o más jóvenes se refieren a sí mismas como mayores. Si tenemos suerte (o quizás no), nos quedan varias décadas en este planeta dañado y me niego a considerarme viejo durante 20 o 30 años. Sin embargo, cuando reviso mis archivos fotográficos y encuentro fotos de un viaje que hice con mi familia en 1975 — hace 47 años — cuando ya era adulto, debo admitir que no soy tan joven como solía ser.

Mis padres decidieron ese verano visitar a mi hermana y su familia (mi sobrina tenía menos de 2 años en ese momento). Vivían en Alemania, dos horas de Ámsterdam y justo en la frontera con Bélgica. Mi padre me invitó, su regalo. Dije “no gracias”. Vivía en Brockport, Nueva York, donde estaba en la escuela durante el año. No me podía imaginar pasar un mes viajando con mis padres. Mis amigos pensaron que estaba loco por rechazar un viaje gratis a Europa y finalmente me convencieron de ir. “Entonces, te deshaces de ellos una vez que llegas allí”, dijeron.

Resultó que era muy divertido viajar con mis padres, con quienes en ese momento tenía una relación muy tensa. Se interesaban por todo y eran viajeros muy relajados. Mi hermana, en cambio, solo quería ir de compras. Ella nunca fue de las que rechazan una limosna de nuestros padres. Mi padre y yo nunca nos habíamos llevado tan bien durante un período tan prolongado.

Comenzamos en Ámsterdam, donde mi hermana, mi cuñado y mi sobrina se unieron a nosotros durante varios días. Mi padre alquiló un autobús Volkswagen T2 y recorrimos la zona, finalmente conduciendo hasta su casa, donde pasé un par de semanas antes de regresar a Ámsterdam por mi cuenta para quedarme con un amigo que pasaba los veranos allí desde que su padre mudó su agencia de publicidad. de Nueva York.

Recuerdo el momento en que se tomó cada foto. No puedo creer que nos comportáramos como turistas tan horribles. La primera a continuación fue en la ciudad de Luxemburgo, un hermoso viaje de un día desde la casa de mi hermana. La segunda fue tomada en Caves Zonneberg, en Maastricht, Bélgica. Las cuevas fueron originalmente para la extracción de mármol, pero fueron muy útiles como refugios (y escondites para objetos de valor) durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La última fue tomada en los jardines del castillo en Alemania, Schloss Brühl.

Ese verano hizo un calor inusual (temperaturas superiores a 32˚C / 90˚F). La furgoneta, por supuesto, no tenía aire acondicionado y no teníamos agua para los adultos cuando fuimos a Luxemburgo. Nos detuvimos en una posada en Alemania de camino a casa y pedimos lo que estuviera más frío. Teníamos cerveza Bittburger. Nunca vi a mi madre beber cerveza. Lo disfrutó y dijo que era lo mejor que había probado en su vida. Ella y Dale orinaron en el bosque poco tiempo después. Otro primero.

• Stretch polyester cowboy shirts were in, as were leather and wood clogs. The color was so faded, I had to convert to grayscale. The jeans were green combed cotton, the shirt was beige with a green yoke. Tan leather clogs with wood bottoms. I was stylin’.
• Las camisas vaqueras de poliéster elástico estaban de moda, al igual que los zuecos de cuero y madera. El color estaba tan descolorido que tuve que convertirlo a escala de grises. Los jeans eran de algodón verde peinado, la camisa era beige con un canesú verde. Zuecos de cuero tostado con fondo de madera. Estaba estilizando.
• My mother pointed at some ancient art on a cave wall and stabbed me in the face with a long, laquered fingernail. I still have a scar. I’m wearing a slinky polyster shirt under a green fine-ribbed cordurouy shirt jacket with mother of pearl snaps. Around my neck was a hand-carved olive pit in the shape of a koi fish. I lost it several years later and wish I could find another one.
• Mi madre señaló un arte antiguo en la pared de una cueva y me apuñaló en la cara con una uña larga y lacada. Todavía tengo una cicatriz. Llevo una camisa ceñida de poliéster debajo de una chaqueta camisera verde de pana fina con broches de nácar. Alrededor de mi cuello había un hueso de aceituna tallado a mano en forma de pez koi. Lo perdí varios años después y desearía poder encontrar otro.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

29 thoughts on “Days of old / Días de antaño”

    1. Sassybear:
      These are surprisingly good memories. Most of my memories of vacations with my parents throughout my childhood are painful. When I was 11, I asked my mother why my father hated me and she told me, “It’s not that he hates you; it’s just that he’s disappointed in you.” (i.e., you little faggot). Don’t get me started.

  1. Great photos, great memories. I just drafted a post about getting old, that will come up sometime in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy every opportunity.

  2. “They were interested in everything” And I suspect that is where you get it from. And one reason I think I’m drawn to you. You have some many different interests and curiosities, and take everything in, most people don’t even notice. I don’t feel old either. I’ll be 52 very shortly and still feel like 32! As long as people think and guess my age as late 30’s …. that’s healthy.

    1. Mistress Borghese:
      That’s one good thing I can say about both my parents, they traveled well and happily and really got absorbed in their experiences.

  3. Today must be the day to talk about getting old. I just read John’s tale at his blog: MORAN-NEWMAN FARMS.
    But I do have one question: were leather clogs with wood bottoms ever REALLY in?

    1. Bob:
      Yes, those clogs were definitely in. In Italy, they’re called zoccoli (which means clogs or hoofs). Mine had a thin rubber sole to keep me from sounding like a Clydesdale. They were shockingly comfortable.

  4. You were a handsome young man, but I prefer the way you look now. In spite of the stab wound, it’s nice you had that kind of experience with your parents. I’m old, but not in my heart.


    1. janiejunebug:
      After 21 years of painful family vacations, this was a nice memory. And thanks, I like the way I look now, too… sometimes.

  5. OMG this post just jogged my memory — I had a pair of leather topped wooden clogs TOO! And those damn things were actually pretty comfy. Glad your family vacation is a nice memory for you!

    1. Debra:
      I had another pair of those clogs that I bought in Italy. And, yes, they were surprisingly comfortable. The only problem with them was they made me 3 inches taller and I already looked like a bean pole.

  6. It’s cool to hear about, and see, some of your big memories, and always nice to see a photo of you with Dale. How did Chuck enjoy that kind of long traveling experience?

    1. Judy C:
      Chuck had a good time, but that was his first European trip… with jetlag. I’ll have to tell that story!

  7. What a fashion plate! What is a fashion plate, anyway? … ok, I just googled it. Now I understand. What a fashion plate!

  8. Your Mom’s pink bellbottoms! You were certainly a fine looking young man and have only become more handsome in the passing years. I’m glad you went on that trip.

    1. Wilma:
      I, too, am glad I went on that trip. The one good travel time I had with my parents. And thanks for the compliments!

  9. Your European story right now has triggered some memories for me. In 1969, I joined a group of Bus. Adm. students at Acadia Univ. (my alma mater) who took a trip to Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. I hadn’t thought much about that sojourn in years until I began reading your accounts. As an aside, I watched on Netflix ‘Capitani’ based in Luxembourg which ignited my Europe ’69 trip as well. The Dam Square was predominant in my mind as well as Lux. and Rotterdam. In a very small town called Pforzheim, Germany the whole town greeted us with wine and food. Again, thanks for your sharing.

    1. Ron:
      I love your memories and would enjoy hearing more. My memories of being on my own in Amsterdam when I returned and stayed with my friend are really special. I was in Germany and then Belgium for the first time for Christmas 1973 when my niece was a month old. GThe parents of my best friend at university lived in Brussels. My cousin came with me and we tooled around Dusseldorf and then Brussels. So much fun… and so much drinking. Could have seen a lot more without all the beer.

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