Thinking about road trips

When I read that Beverly Clearly had died, I thought about how I would read my her books aloud on road trips. I am blessed to have no issues with reading while riding, and the kids loved listening to stories. I must have read dozens of books on extended road trips with the family. We vacationed a lot by driving around the country and tent camping. The most notorious of these trips took place when we first visited Disneyworld tent camping along the way. In August. In an non airconditioned Ford Bronco. A vehicle whose back windows did not open. Keeping the kids occupied with stories was one way we survived this trip from hell.

We also sang: On Top of Old Smokey, When the Saints go Marchin’ In, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, America, the Beautiful, etc. etc. I’d sing lullabies trying to get them to nap, which worked some of the time. When they woke up, we’d play games. “I Spy,” “The A-Z game,” and “Tom Swifties.”

We (I, at least) loved the Tom Swifty game. For those who might not have heard of it, a Tom Swifty is a phrase, followed by “Tom said” and an adverb which makes a pun on the statement. For example:

We lost power, said Tom darkly.

I can’t find my way in the dark, said Tom feelingly.

My ’57 Chevy is on blocks, said Tom tirelessly.

Wind gusts of 20 mph are predicted, said Tom breezily.

I’m making pudding, said Tom stirringly.

I like to lie in the sun, said Tom warmly.

Look at that full moon, said Tom brightly.

It’s hopeless, said Tom uselessly.

I could sleep for a week, said Tom tiredly.

You can find lots more examples online I’m sure. I remember the kids trying to one-up each other with their creative adverbs. Our youngest, Eddie, loved words, and though he is a full 10 years younger than his brother, he frequently awed us all with his clever creations.

At any rate, Tom Swifties were a more pleasant way to pass the time than listening to “Are we there, yet?”

10 thoughts on “Thinking about road trips

  1. Your post brought me back! All those experiences growing up myself (no air conditioning) and driving cross country with my kids. But I have to say I never heard of a Tom Swifty. And I love it so thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I downloaded a compilation of Beverly Cleary books to listen to in the car with my kids this weekend. I realized they have never read any of her books. I never heard of the Tom Swiftly game but I will add it to my car ride bag of tricks. I don’t know how you took those trips without windows or ac!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were windows in the Bronco but the back ones didn’t open. After the trip to Florida, we ditched the Bronco. Let’s just say we bonded during that trip but mainly we bonded over dislike of that car!!


  3. Tom Swifties-! Have not thought of those in forever. What also grabbed me was “Go Tell Aunt Rhody…” all those mournful lines came back to me along with the relief that the old gray goose was NOT dead. Chuckling at “the trip from hell” – don’t we all have a version, but this one seems the ultimate. How fitting, and what a lovely tribute to Cleary, is the resurgence of all these rich memories. Associations are powerful things.

    Liked by 1 person

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