Dad and MomAs we were going through our parents things after the passing of our mother, we came across several very old maps of different states, and also one that I received of London during World War II. It occurred to me that my sisters and I are a real novelty these days, in that we know how to read a map, and plan out a route to travel to anywhere we would like to go. I’m sure there are other people out there who can read maps too, but in this day and age of the GPS, many people can’t either. I’m all for technology, and I have a GPS myself, but I can also read a map, and that is because of my dad, and his determination to teach us that art.

Every year our family would take a vacation. Sometimes we didn’t travel very far, like the year we took a Wyoming tour, in several separate legs over the course of two weeks. Other times, we traveled quite a ways, like the years we went to visit our sister, Cheryl Masterson, while she was living in upstate New York. As students go, we were a novelty too, because every year when the teacher asked the inevitable question about what we did over the summer, we always had a story to tell. At the time, we didn’t imagerealize just how blessed…and how traveled we were, compared to other students in class. I always thought that everyone took a vacation, but that isn’t so. Many kids got to go visit a grandparent or some other relative, but going to the same place every summer isn’t really a vacation.

Our parents were so excited about our vacations every year, and we would often sit down and Dad would show us the route we were going to take on our trip. It was during these vacation planning sessions, that we learned to read a map, and that we learned to enjoy reading a map. The map was never confusing or complicated to us, because Dad showed us how to read it. We knew the difference between an interstate and a state highway. We knew how to pick out the larger cities, as opposed to the small towns. We knew what states and what towns we would be traveling through, and we knew how to find the sights that were located in the area that might be of interest. We knew how to find campgrounds in the area, and how to figure out how far we could easily travel in a days time. All these things are on a map, if you know where to look for them, and thanks to our dad, we did.
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I suppose that many people wouldn’t think of a map as a treasure, but for my sisters and me, they really were. We all had to have some of them, and every time we look at them, they will serve as a reminder of those planning sessions, and of all those amazing vacations we took as kids, with our parents. I have no problem with the convenience of a GPS, and in the big cities my husband Bob and I travel to, they are a great help, but if my GPS ever failed, I could still get us there with a map. It is a legacy that our dad left for his daughters. It does make us a novelty, but it is something we are all proud to be able to do, and thankful that we had the parents we had. Their interest in travel, and Dad’s teachings on maps clearly enriched our lives.

4 Responses to A Real Novelty

  • Early in our marriage Betty and I drove from Alabama to Maine to visit with my family. In those young and foolish days we often drove straight through, swapping off on the driving and sleeping while the other drove. It was Betty’s turn to drive and I showed her where we were on the map before dozing off. Next thing I heard was our young son say isn’t that the Washington monument? Betty had driven right into DC instead of taking the east beltway around it and was in the DC maze. She was quite frustrated at that point and we had to navigate out way out through the northeast – not the same picturesque scenery. It was then I learned that she had no idea how to read a map. It was something I had always taken for granted and map reading was an easy exercise for me in the military. She now does well reading a map but it took that experience to jump-start the learning process.

    • Oh my gosh. Was she ready to strangle you? I was like you. I thought everyone could read a map. Then I started traveling with my husband…pre GPS, and found out that while he is an amazing driver, I was the navigator for sure.

  • I too have been reading Maps since I was pretty small. Daddy always made sure we learned the things we needed to Know. Larry had to do a lot of that when he was in Vietnam. He loved it.

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