Christmas Visit – 1975

Kristin Williams and James Williams
Six months pregnant wearing overalls and Jim pulling up his sock.

We moved to Simpson County, Mississippi in November of 1975.  Jim was in charge of the Emergency Land Fund’s Model farm.  Our daughter Jilo was 5 and Ife was 2.5.  I was 29 and Jim was just about to turn 31.  This was before we had goats, chickens or rabbits.  The greenhouses weren’t in production.  I remember several of the farmers Jim worked with gave him gifts of money for Christmas.  It didn’t amount to more than $30 total but it paid for all the gas we used.

We decided to drive up to share the holidays with Jim’s family in Rock Hill, MO.  They lived at #1 Inglewood Court, right outside of St. Louis. Seventeen year old Micheal, fifteen year old Monette and twelve year old Debbie were living at home. We made the eight hour trip in the little gray Volkswagon that came with the job. We took food to eat on the way, left early and drove straight through.  I don’t remember anything specific about driving up. As I recall we got to St. Louis before dark.  Jim’s parents gave us their bedroom.  They were always so nice about that.  Jim and the kids and I shared the pushed together twin beds.  There weren’t presents for us but Jim’s mother looked around and came up with some. I don’t remember what she gave Jilo and Ife but she gave me two copper vases and Jim two glass paperweights. I don’t remember what we took as gifts.

Jilo, Ife and Deborah Williams.
Jilo, Ife and Debbie Williams.

I remember going to see Jim’s brother, Harold, at one of his jobs.  He had several, just like his father always did. We also stopped by his studio where he made plaster knick knacks.  Or was it cement bird baths?  Or both?  There was a Salvation Army or Goodwill store nearby and we stopped and I got some shirts for the kids and a dress that Ife wanted.  Mostly we stayed around the house and visited.

Micheal, Chester and Harold Williams
Three of Jim’s brothers – Micheal, Chester and Harold Williams at Harold’s place of work.

We stayed until New Years Eve and left in the evening.  There is never enough food or time to prepare it for the return trip. We stopped at Howard Johnson’s somewhere on the way home and I remember getting fried oysters. It was cold and dark and clear. There were stars. And there are always trucks. We listened to the radio and talked and maybe sang some.  The kids eventually fell asleep in the backseat and we welcomed the New Year driving through the night.

To see more people in overalls and other work related outfits CLICK!

39 thoughts on “Christmas Visit – 1975

  1. 6 months!! You were tiny! I love that description of driving through the night from one year into the next. It sounds so peaceful.

  2. What a marvelous short story. Your memory is enviably sharp and clear. I made a few of those long, hard car trips home for the holidays and can relate in particular to your description of the return trip. Back then when we couldn’t email each other everyday or call whenever we feel like it, the need for connection at holiday time seemed so much more urgent. Didn’t it?

    1. I think it really did. When I was growing up all of my family lived in the same city and now that is true again but for many years, while my own family was growing up, we lived far from other family members and the rare occasions we spent holidays together are very memorable.

    1. A cousin told me on fb that it must have been fried clams if it was Howard Johnson. She was probably right. And whatever it was, it was good.

  3. Kristin,
    That was such a fun story. You have a fantastic memory. I love the brass vase that your mother-in-law found for you on the spur of the moment.
    Oh – and you in overalls. Perfect for this week’s theme.

  4. Much of my family lore includes stories of long road trips. The best ones always have a good hook, either something novel or more often something rotten, that improves with the telling. What kind of VW? A long trip in a beetle with kids in the back would have been very memorable.

    1. It was a little beetle. The kids were so small though there was plenty of room. It was a bit crowded when we added an another adult and another child to the mix on a different trip. This was before seat belts. And there were the trips when we had 5 children and two adults and then 6 children and two adults smashed into a variety of cars. There was the toddler who hated the car seat. This trip over the holidays stands out as one of our most peaceful, roomy trips ever.

  5. Great memories Kirstin. We did similar trips at Christmas for many years in the 60s and 70s but I could never recall the details like you have done. Fine family memories and some blue overalls as well.

    1. We usually made our trips in the summer for my husbands family reunion and to see my family in Michigan. There are only two winter trips I can remember. This one and one by bus to Detroit for Thanksgiving where we got trapped by a blizzard. I’ll have to write that one up. Maybe a bus prompt will come up soon 😉

  6. My family has also made a lot of cross country trips at holidays over the years. I remember that they felt hard at the time, but they now are some of my children’s favorite memories–singing songs, listening of tapes, the dog barking madly every time we went through a toll booth. . .

    1. We usually made the long trips during the summer for a family reunion. There are plenty of stories of craziness from those times. I remember asking to be let out of the car several times when we got only a few miles from home as things deteriorated rather quickly. Of course I didn’t get let out and once we got further out, things improved. Somewhat. Too bad I didn’t keep a journal.

  7. I always enjoy your stories so much, Kristin. We had a VW bug too when I was little. Mom drove us from Eugene to So. California with my baby brother in the way back as a little crib.

    When you wrote about the two twin beds, I immediately thought of the I Love Lucy show.

    Kathy M.

    1. My mother-in-law said that when they first got the twin beds to replace the double bed, she cried but soon came to love the extra room.

  8. What a fun story! When I was a kid, our family had a VW bug too. It was a 1964 green model. I remember that car. We also made a trip to our grandparents’ house for Christmas in that little VW. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  9. Forget how long ago those old images were made, just cherish the memory. I am addicted to glass objects so I missed a picture of the glass paperweights. Your VW ride reminded me of a friend of my mother. She delivered her first in a VW beetle…

  10. You’ve taken me back in time with your tale of driving in the night and a stop at Howard Johnsons. I can imagine the dashboard with the light from the radio dial and static fading in and out.

      1. Well, the lockers, the blackboard, “recreation”, the casualness of their postures, etc… As you say, the mind is strange and amazing!!

        1. The only positive was she didn’t realize I’d have been way over 100. But on the other hand – 66, 100… pretty much the same to a 9 year old.

  11. I have over 30 years difference with my parents and more with my relatives,
    thinking when I was a kid they all seemed pretty old to me.
    I was the youngest of my generation, still am, I guess.
    So I can relate to your grand-daughter’s vision of things.

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