GOD’S COUNTRY — People have probably heard that term over and over.
They probably think it is overused.
But I say, what’s wrong with it?
I truly think I live at the best place on the planet.
I am in an old two-story farm house, originally owned by mom and dad.
Because I live there, I have access to the uncounted, but still cherished things they left behind.
In this house, I was reared with my two sisters. Mom and dad, teacher and farmer, brought us up the right way.
We never felt pampered, or deprived. We never felt left out of anything important.
Because dad farmed, planned vacations weren’t exactly the thing. If dad got money from selling cattle, or hay or straw or wheat, he’d announce it was time to go someplace.
So we would.
We’d go to Niagara Falls — not that far away — and stay in someone’s house where they said they had rooms to let.
We’d go to state parks, or the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.
On our grand tour, we had our trip out west.
Dad took three weeks off, hired guys to keep up with farm work, and we drove across the country to California and back.
We saw national parks, stayed at Yosemite, ate what we called Las Vegas potatoes, and got introduced to the phenomenon of slot machines.
So many eye-opening things for young girls. I think I was probably in what we called “junior high.” This was before the more proper nomenclature of “middle school.”
We took many photos. We all looked so young and scrubbed clean.
Traveling through Arizona and New Mexico we saw installations where American Indians sold their jewelry, or moccasins.
I still have, and I still wear, a turquoise ring and bracelet purchased then. Turquoise is the birth stone for me and my sister Mary Ann.
Another item my sisters probably don’t know I have is a bright blue blazer jacket, with hand stitching decorating the pockets and collar.
This is another exquisite Indian item.
How can a person describe all the wonderful things any trip brings?
Mom had a good way.
A very organized woman, she did things like label photos.
And, she collected place mats.
As occupant of this old farm house, I feel I am responsible for maintaining its contents.
I found in one room (sister Jane’s bedroom) this collection of place mats mom had been attached to poster board.
And, that’s not all.
She had labeled most of them when she felt they had come from a memorable place.
Looking at these place mats gives you a view of lots of travels.
As they got older, mom and dad would go to Arizona, and Florida.
They decided they didn’t like Arizona as much as the southern state, so they invested in a time share place in Sarasota, Florida.
But the place mat collection? Voluminous.
There is a place mat that says Plainsmen Restaurant, Rockwell, Okla.
This is a frilly-looking white place mat, complete with a coaster for your coffee.
Then, various restaurants, from Beckley, West Virginia.
Locally, there were place mats from Mansfield and Hayesville. Woolworth’s at the Richland Mall.
A piece de resistance is one from a Beverly Hills hotel restaurant.
I took mom and dad to an Ohio State University game at the Rose Bowl. We even shopped on Rodeo Drive.
Then, there are the more bizarre offerings: Duties of the husband and wife, (as taught in 1883).
Of course, The Ohio State University.
There probably are few restaurants that give out place mats now. Mostly, you get flatware wrapped in a paper napkin.
But, oh, the old days.
Memories, always, as provided by mom, my kind of woman.