The day the King died

The Remember the Time Blog Hop is back!

This week we are writing about receiving big news.

Remember the Time Blog Hop

When I was a child family holidays meant getting up in the dark to catch a ferry across the Irish Sea. My father would then drive us to the south coast of England, across a land that had not yet been criss crossed with motorways and bypasses, but where traffic was light except in the biggest towns and cities.

My father would have prepared for the day long car journey by writing out a route plan on numerous, small sheets of paper. The large clip that held these sheets together would be hung on the dashboard to allow for easy reference. We knew that we were close to our destination when only one sheet remained.

We stopped only for fuel and necessary comfort breaks. My mother would hand my sister and I cups of soup, kept hot in a large thermos flask, bread, sandwiches and juice, as we sat in the back seat trying to occupy ourselves. The car had no seatbelts so we arranged our toys and books around us. My father would be cross if he had to brake suddenly and the contents of the car, including it’s occupants, flew forward.

We were creatures of habit and always holidayed during the last two weeks of August, choosing a caravan park in Cornwall, Devon or further east along the coast. I enjoyed staying in the caravan parks with their outdoor swimming pools and play parks. Sometimes there would be a tennis court, one even had a go cart track.

Both my brother and I have late August birthdays so I did not have parties as a child. Instead I would be taken out for a special ice cream treat, a banana split or a knickerbocker glory. I only remember my brother joining us on a few holidays. Being twelve years older he could claim his independence and escape the trips that revolved around two little girls.

Yet it was on his birthday that we heard the news, on the last caravan holiday that we took as a family.

The caravans in those days did not have electricity or running water. There was a gas canister for cooking and to power the few lights, a toilet block would be available nearby. My sister and I had been sent across the site to fetch water with a large, plastic container that required the two of us to carry when full. When we returned my mother was clearly upset, standing in the kitchen area, not washing the dishes in the sink before her. She had heard the news on the small, battery powered radio that was the only electronic entertainment that we had. She told us Elvis Presley had died.

There was much talk of his eating habits but not, at that stage, of drugs. We were not big Elvis fans but knew him from the movies and, of course, his music. My mother seemed melancholy, discussing wasted opportunity and how young he was. I did not consider him young, forty-two is not young to a twelve year old.

Perhaps I remember the moment so clearly because it marked the end of so many things. My mother did not enjoy this holiday due to the cold and wet weather, the crawling insects that invaded our caravan each night. Perhaps my sister and I were harder to entertain, do children ever remember being difficult pre teen?

Four days later though I became a teenager and the following year we had one last shot at a family holiday, a staycation with numerous day trips. After that my sister started going away with friends, I would be sent on Scripture Union organised Camps and my parents discovered package holidays abroad.

It seems now that Elvis’s death marked the end of my childhood, the end of the rose coloured memories that I cherish. When I hear his music I remember that holiday. For me, those memories are good.


You can read the other posts in this Blog Hop by clicking on the link below.