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Monday, 07 July 2008

Have You Ever been in Sandusky, Mom?

By Nancy Leitz

In 1965, my husband was asked (ha!) by his company to go to Lewis Research Center near Sandusky, Ohio. Our mechanical contracting firm had been awarded a contract to do a job there. The job was to start in a couple of months and we had to go out and see the area and decide whether to rent a home there or whether the children and I should stay in Pennsylvania and Dad would commute.

It was an eight-hour drive, so we would only see him at weekends, which made it a big decision.

On the weekend of the 4th of July we packed up the car with games, goodies and kids and started to Ohio for our tour of the area. Can you imagine that we made NO reservations for a motel or hotel room? Who needs a reservation for a place we had never heard of until this job came up? Who else would be there?

It was about 75 degrees when we started out early in the morning,. but the Weatherman kept warning of a scorcher later in the day. The four kids were packed in the back of the car and things were okay for awhile (about 200 miles). Then that red hot day that they had promised was upon us.

Our car had no air conditioning and the temperature was climbing as our spirits started descending. The kids were hanging their heads out the windows to catch a breath of air. With every complaint we would soothe them with, "Don't worry kids, as soon as we get to our motel you can jump right into the pool."

That was our life saving line. They would all go back to their books or counting Volkswagen bugs for awhile. Then the heat would get them again and they were told the same thing over and over for the next 600 miles: "As soon as we get to the motel, you can jump right in the pool."

Well, we reached Sandusky and the place was really crowded. We were in a traffic jam that would have put Manhattan to shame. I was astonished. I asked my husband, "What do you think is going on?" He had no idea either.

There was a visitor center and I went in and asked why the crowds were there. The woman looked at me as though I were crazy and said, "CEDAR POINT." It was a huge amusement park that the whole world had heard about but had neglected to tell us.

I asked the woman about motels and she just smiled. I persisted and she said that every room had been booked for months. I begged her for more information. Finally, she said she knew of a motel 22 miles down the road and she dialed the number. I spoke to the owner and he did have two rooms and would hold them for 30 minutes.

I was about to hang up when a thought occurred to me and I asked him if he had a pool. "NO POOL," said he. I was sunk. All the promises I had made about jumping in the pool. Now, no pool.

I walked back to the car and told my husband where we had to go and whispered to him so the kids couldn't hear, "There's no pool."

As we drove down the road to the motel I said, "You know, kids, it's a shame you want to jump in the pool right away because there is a giant amusement park here that we could go to but we can't do both. So you guys jump in the pool and we'll just forget about the World's highest roller coaster and the Scariest Haunted House and the Race Car Track and all. I know you are counting on the pool so that's that."

By this time, we are pulling into the shabbiest motel I have ever seen. The kids get out of the car and begin looking all around the property. The owner comes out and I say to him, "Where is the pool?" He said, "There's no pool" and with that the cheers went up from the kids."Hurray, there's no pool, there's no pool, Now we can go to Cedar Point."

They were delighted. We went in, took showers, changed clothes and headed to Cedar Point. We had the best time ever and the kids still talk about their luck that the motel Mom picked out had no pool!

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Great story and how you dealt with a near calamity. *smile*

Don't know where you were coming from, but folks in surrounding states are quite familiar with Cedar Point, Put-In-Bay, Lake Erie and so much more. We flew in and out in our small plane flying days as Sandusky is home of a good friend, Bowling Green State University nearby.

Am sure this is so true of so many areas with all sorts of attractions about which people in a locale will know much, but we enter as strangers knowing so little.

Perhaps with the Internet this is all changed now.

How brilliant you were!! I'd never have thought of that and our family would have exploded into a brawl - well - maybe just crying and feet-stomping.....LOL

LOL. I have to echo the comments of your first reader/commenter. As a resident of NE Ohio, when I read "In 1965, my husband was asked (ha!) by his company to go to Lewis Research Center near Sandusky, Ohio." I wondered what I was getting into with this story. NASA's Lewis Glenn Research Center is waaaay east of Sandusky--it's way over in Cleveland, which is more than a good hour and a quarter away from Sandusky. Hee hee... so I can certainly answer your titular question!

You are a cool mom Nancy....or maybe you just lead a charmed life...but you made some pretty wonderful memories for your kids over the years...that's for sure. What a great story.

Really fast thinking, Nancy. My life as a mother would have been much easier if I could have emulated your speedy way to turn a coming disaster into a happy event.

I have traveled across country with kids in the back seat and know how hard it is to keep them occupied. We paid my daughter 10 cents for every hex sign she saw going through the Amish country. Who knew there were so many?

Hi Joared,

You are quite right about the Internet making this a smaller World. I suppose everybody knows about Cedar Point now. In 1967 it was all very new to me.After we were there for more than two years we also enjoyed Put-In-Bay and Port Clinton and the Mon Ami Champagne House and all the other wonderful attractions they have in that part of Ohio. By the time we were there awhile, we could have been tour guides...


I didn't always think that fast. Most of the time I thought of a great response 30 minutes later. Then it was "I shoulda said,I shoulda said". THOSE were the times when we had the tantrums and the foot poundings...

Hi Nance,

Thanks for stopping by. We were at Lewis Research Center, Plum Brook Station Sandusky, Ohio. I used to fly into Cleveland and then Roy would pick me up and drive that hour or so back to Sandusky.

Roy lived in Milan while at Plum Brook which I'm sure you know was the birthplace of Thomas Edison. I was fortunate enough to make friends with the local librarian who introduced me to the curator of Edison's birthplace. I was in his home a few times over the two years we were there.We loved Ohio and took advantage of every opportunity to travel around and see the sights.


I did make a lot of great memories with my children, and I know you did too, jusging by the beautiful pictures you post of your children and grandchildren.


I know you must have gone broke in Amish Country paying your little girl to spot Hex signs. They are Everywhere in Lancaster County. She must have thought she had a really great thing going....We don't live far from Lancaster and Amish country. It is beautiful there.

Thanks,everyone, for the nice comments

Well, this native Ohioan learned something today! I had absolutely no knowledge of the Plum Brook Station, so I did some research after reading your astounding comment. Thanks for the education. (Even though I am on summer vacation! LOL)

Hi Nance,

Yes, Roy did a lot of work for NASA at their facility at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton,Virginia and at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky.

Everybody in this country was anxious to get a man on the Moon during the 60's so nothing was too much trouble for both NASA and the technical people who made those test facilities. Plum Brook involved putting nuclear reactors in space vehicles.....

Did you have a big "C" on your shirt for Clever? Fast thinking and great, fun story.

Hi Annie,

I had a C on my shirt, all right, but it wasn't for clever. It was for "Calculating" I always had to figure out what I had to say to the kids to stay at least 2 jumps ahead of them....

Ohhhhhhhhh boy!!!!! I was born in north central Ohio. It's a neat area. My kids always wanted to do things in addition to Cedar Point and the Islands (my fave) -- like see the "scene of the crime" (little smart alecs) -- the hospital where I was born! lol Cedar Point was always an annual pilgrimage. Too bad you you didn't get to stay at The Breakers. Good going on handling the kids!!! Being a mom requires a modicum of deviousness, doesn't it? I hope you got to see some of the other things nearby s well -- like the Edison birthplace.

Hi Kay,

Happy to see you back from your trip. Yes, we enjoyed working in Ohio and having the opportunity to visit all the neat places there.

If you read the above comments you will see that I did, indeed, visit the Edison House in Milan. Quite an experience.

In my life experience I've been the kid in the back with just another million miles to go and also the daddy with three of them back there. This story was actually an adventure.

I would teach my son to be inovative if plan "A" fails. We were taking our three kids to Sandusky to get on the slow boat called "The Sandusky" for the three island tour. I rushed them saying, "The boat won't wait!" When we got to the port from central Ohio we watched "The Sandusky" sail off; two minutes too late.

They were really disappointed and they thought I was really angry. I looked at my son. He was wondering what Daddy was going to do. I said, "Quick, get in the van." I drove around to Port Clinton and within ten minutes were were on a jet boat going to Put N Bay. They waved as we caught and passed "The Sandusky". And ... it just so happened to cost half as much. Thanks for bringing this memory back.

Hi Herm,

So, you can identify with my story both as a hassled kid in the back and also as the daddy in the front who had to go to Plan B in a hurry.

You were very clever to drive the kids to another, better, boat and have the fun of passing the Sandusky
and giving it a little wave.

We were once scheduled to ride the Wine Train in the Napa Valley and just as we got to the station, the train pulled out without us.

Undaunted, we sped alongside the train in our car, all the while waving and stopping at various wineries and sampling the Pinot Grigios and Cabernets. Then we would catch up with the train again and wave. Sometimes the train had stopped,too, so by the time it came along we were all posed, lolling on the fender and hoisting a wine glass and toasting the passengers.

We had more fun that day than if we had been on time and had riden the train...

We have gone places as a family and a couple and returned to tell the stories of how much fun we had. As a result, others have taken some of the trips we took. Upon returning they said they didn't find the fun we found. We'd tell them, "Oh, we didn't find fun; we took it with us!"

I lift my glass to you. Cheers!

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