These stories are part of who we are and I want them recorded. Not all of them are pretty, but that is ok. This is a collection of family stories that are told repeatedly anytime the Smith clan congregates during a vacation or a holiday. I’m sure some of them are told more from my perspective than others but I welcome added insight from those involved.
Northern Wisconsin is pretty much the heart of nowhere. The small town I grew up near was over three hours from a major airport and two hours from any significant shopping, unless Farm and Fleet was your go-to store – it was only an hour away. When the girls were young we made weekly trips to the city of Duluth, Minnesota to meet with friends for a church service. It was an all day journey, often leaving in the dark early hours of winter, with our thermos of cocoa and breakfast food and not getting back until it was dark again. There were rituals of where to stop for lunch (Pizza Hut, cheese pizza with a pitcher of Mountain Dew} and what to listen to on the radio (Prairie Home Companion all the way home…). The two youngsters would often fall asleep in the back, strapped into their car seats.
But there was always a point at which the road began to sound different. There was a slowing, braking and a particular curve to the road. It was almost like the tires knew that there was no longer a white center line, no longer much traffic. It was “home road”. A voice in the back would start the chant, accompanied by rhythmic bouncing in the car seat. Soon they would both be singing the song, “ho-ome road, ho-ome road” in sleepy voices that got stronger over the last couple of miles. It was the song that signaled one more safe trip nearly ended, with the expectation of being done with that long stretch of forced inactivity. It meant homecoming.
On visits home, I never travel that stretch of country road without hearing that little mantra playing through my mind. We don’t live there anymore. It’s not a road that leads to home. But the funny thing is that the song itself has come to be applied to other places that I’ve called home. The same feelings of welcome and relief from travel are felt as I turn into my present long driveway, and in my mind I hear small voices singing the “home road” song. I’m just sayin’ it is a sweet thing to remember.