by Sophia Strathmore
As we said good-by to our home and settled in for our journey, we had no idea what escapades lie ahead. As children, my brother, sister and I spent much of our time stretched out in the back of the car, playing games or singing. My grandmother sat in the back seat relaxing and sleeping. Unlike the children of today, we had no electronic devices to keep us company, all we had was each other.
We took the northern route out to California, stopping at famous places like Pike’s Peak. Riding the train up the mountain was quite an adventure. We spent a week in California and then we headed home. The southern route back to Ohio is what I remember most.
Likely we were in New Mexico or Arizona when we went into one of those famous tourist type stores. As a starry eyed kid, I took in all the items. They had scorpions encased as paper weights, maracas, everything that an almost seven year old child would want to buy. Staying close to my Mother, we walked around until I saw them, the Mexican jumping beans. They were in a small plastic case that you could open and you could put the beans in your hand and they moved about. I was mesmerized.
This certainly didn’t seem possible. These beans appeared to be inanimate objects, but somehow they jumped and wiggled. I looked up at my mother and she indicated that we could make this purchase. I was so excited that I would be able to show these magical beans to my friends in Ohio. As we exited the store, the beans were clanging in the plastic case and I was enthralled. This was better than anything that I had ever owned before, a veritable treasure. I proudly got back into our station wagon, and we were off.
As you can imagine, not knowing much about jumping beans and how to preserve the small larvae inside, the beans eventually stopped moving and by the time we were back home, they moved no more. They were just hard outer shells no longer possessing their magical abilities that had drawn me to them.
Sometimes I wonder if Valentino and I have failed our daughter Elle. She is nearly ready to leave our nest and set off on a life of her own. What memories have we built for her? She has no memories of long road trips and Mexican Jumping Beans. Well, we have decided that this year during the holidays we will create our own memories of a road trip. We will drive from Ohio to Key West, Florida and who knows, we might even be able to find the world’s largest ball of twine.