When our children were small, my wife and I always took the time to take our three offspring on vacation for a week at the beach. Our favorite place to stay was Captain’s Quarters condos in St. Augustine, Florida. Being a young family, the trip was a financial strain, but we all needed the rest and relaxation of the ocean. I would start early each year getting reservations for the next summer and saving up the money we would need to have a fantastic trip.
I was a workaholic trying to make my way up in the world and my wife was busy running a household, teaching, transporting three children to school, and to afterschool activities each day. We had one of those big custom-made vans with a roof high enough to walk around comfortably inside. It had a TV set, a game player, and VHS tape player to watch movies. The kids would get a favorite movie and watch it over and over, memorizing all the lines. All in all, it was an excellent means of transporting three active children on a road trip and keep them entertained. Of course, no decent South Georgian could have a vehicle like that without a CB radio and we were no exception. My “Handle” was, “Silver Dollar”, a moniker I chose since I thought it went well with my occupation as a banker. On one trip, the kids aggravated the big trucks so much, I think they may have put out a contract on us, but we were never caught.
One of our annual excursions was to load up early and make the trip to Disneyworld in Orlando where we would smuggle cokes, snacks, sandwiches and such into the park, although they were prohibited. We were never caught and it saved us a lot of money. We would stay all day until the park closed, then make the long drive back to St. Augustine while everyone fell asleep as I struggled to stay awake.
One of our other favorite pastimes was to drive to the docks in St. Augustine and purchase fresh shrimp and crab right off the boat. We would take them back to the condo and enjoy a sumptuous seafood meal. On the way south each year, we would make a stop at a new food wholesale club located near our route called Sam’s Club, where we would stock up on food, drinks, and candy for the beach vacation.
Occasionally, we would take time out of our busy schedule to dine at a nearby restaurant, just for variety. One of our favorites place was a pizza restaurant near our condo. We started ordering pizza delivered to our room. One night, we ordered a pizza and received a knock on our door as the delivery boy arrived. I was distracted, people watching from the balcony, when my young, mischievous son came running up asking for money to pay for the pizza. I assumed it was $15.00 or $16.00 so I gave him a $20.00 bill and instructed him to tell the delivery boy to keep the change, thinking it would be a generous tip. I later inquired and found out the bill had been $19.97! My son beamed proudly he had told the delivery boy to “keep the change.”
The following year we returned to Captain’s Quarters for the annual beach vacation and ordered a pizza from our favorite place. I noticed the person on the other end of the phone sounded a little odd, but I thought nothing further about it. Then, when the pizza finally arrived, I met the delivery boy at the door, paid for the pizza with a bill large enough for the pizza and a generous tip. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, the delivery boy said, “I know, keep the change.” Apparently it was the same one from a year earlier who had not forgotten our name or favorite room at the condo. We have laughed many times about this and is one of my favorite memories of spending time with my young family!