Headin’ To South Of The Border In The Vista Cruiser
Greetings From The Booth!
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend! For me, the July 4th holiday was just the appetizer, because next week is my full-fledged vacation. Every year my very gracious brother-in-law includes me and my wife in his big family getaway, and this year the destination is Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland. To be honest, I’m more of a beach guy, but I’m also like Uncle Frank in the Home Alone movies. I’m not turning down a free vacation!
Speaking of movies, I was watching a special recently about the making of the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” starring Chevy Chase and a cast of thousands. It’s become an iconic film over the years, and I think it resonates with me (and many others) because growing up, we were the Griswold family. It seemed like every summer we were always taking endless trips to places like Reptile Land, Rock City, and yes, Pedro’s South Of The Border!
For those of you who don’t remember, South Of The Border was the world’s largest tourist trap. For hundreds of miles, clever signs on I-95 would lure travelers headed toward Myrtle Beach to South Of The Border, which was located just across the North-South Carolina line. With excitement and curiosity level at their peak levels, tourists turn in to what is essentially a huge fireworks, fast food , and cheap motel complex. The first (and only) time we pulled into South Of The Border I can remember saying something like, “Really!?!? Is this all there is?!?” I’m pretty sure the phrase “build it and they will come” originated from Pedro himself.
The vehicular mode of transportation for these summer sojourns was, you guessed it, the family station wagon. In the 60’s and 70’s there were no SUVs or mini-vans. There were only station wagons, which looked nothing like wagons, and I’m not sure where the word “station” comes into play. Clark Griswold took the family to Walley World in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, a god-awful pea green and wood-paneled station wagon that was actually a modified Ford Country Squire.
Our version of the Truckster was the Olds Vista Cruiser, a station wagon that was based on the Olds Cutlass, and marketed by GM from 1964-1977. My memory might be foggy, but I remember it as having the same pea green color as the Truckster, with beautiful genuine imitation wood paneling. I vaguely recall one summer when the Vista Cruiser broke down in some unnamed town, steam pouring from the radiator on a 100-degree day, and my Dad using hard-earned vacation money to get us back on the road.
Funny, I can’t seem to remember ever being passed by a fashion model in a convertible.
That’s it for a few weeks. Until next time from The Booth…GO HORNETS!