Rainy weekend turns into ’50s flashback

Judith Liebaert The hubby and I took the RV out for the final run of the season over Labor Day weekend. I'd checked the weather forecast earlier in the week. The prediction was for partly cloudy skies with less than 10 percent chance of rain, tem...

Judith Liebaert

The hubby and I took the RV out for the final run of the season over Labor Day weekend. I’d checked the weather forecast earlier in the week. The prediction was for partly cloudy skies with less than 10 percent chance of rain, temperatures in the low 70s.

I should have known better for two very good, time tested reasons that always add up to inclement weather. The first one is a no brainer - it was a holiday weekend. The second one was a guarantee - I was part of the equation. I’m considering giving rainmaker a spin as a second career before my retirement. It seems that no matter where I travel or what the season, I bring the rain. But that’s another story.

Despite the almost constant rhythm of raindrops on the fiberglass roof of our home away from home, and a few desperate moments when I began contemplating the coincidence that rain rhymes with insane, the entire weekend was not a disaster.

Oh sure, we’d packed the bicycles, the kayak, the lawn chairs and the makings for s’mores, all of which went unused in the soggy weather. And yes, there was no wifi connection or television reception, not a consideration in good weather, but pretty important when it rains. We ended up doing a lot of cruising around in the hubby’s truck. That’s when our unplanned trip down nostalgia lane began.


We were staying in a campground about a mile outside a small central Wisconsin town. Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy visiting small towns that are at least 50 miles from the nearest urban shopping mall? These little burgs almost always have a bustling small business community with big character. This town seemed to be embracing its happier days from the ’50s.

Our flashback to the past started with breakfast in a corner greasy spoon, complete with an era-appropriate “famous” rendition of an otherwise unremarkable menu item. This one touted Spudniks, a potato based, donut-like, ball of crusty-greasy goodness the owner concocted back in 1957 to steal some thunder from the Russian launch of the Sputnik satellite.

After a plate of eggs, bacon and home fries, I ventured across the street to kill some time in a sizeable antique shop. The day began taking on a definite theme as I browsed through dealer stalls filled to the brim with mid-century antiques. From complete sets of jadite and lusterware, through dusty stacks of Nancy Drew, to mink stoles and pillbox hats, my flashback to the ’50s was gaining speed.

Back in the truck, I was feeling in the groove so I tuned to ’50s on Five XM Radio. If there is one thing the hubby likes to do, it’s cruise around town, any town, listening to tunes. That’s what we were doing when the rain slowed, the sky cleared for a moment, and in a scene that couldn’t have been more perfect if it was directed on a Hollywood back lot. A shaft of sun hit the polished chrome wheel cover on the back of a ’57 Mercury Monterey two-tone with continental package - pink roof over black body.

Tucked into a driveway on a tree-lined street we would have missed it but for that momentary beam spotlighting the beauty on wheels. We stopped to admire the classic for a few moments, and then the owner appeared out of nowhere.

OK, he really came out of the garage but with the ’50s hits playing on the radio and the whole parting of the clouds thing going on, it was all starting to feel like a dream montage. He and hubby talked cars for a while before we rolled on.

The best was yet to come. Four miles out of town we found a drive-in theater with two screens showing digitally projected triple features nightly, starting at dusk, rain or shine. Good thing for us, that last part.

There was just one thing left that would make this day even more perfectly ’50s - dinner at a drive-in malt shop. As luck would have it, there was one on main street, an original straight out of time gone by. We returned later in the evening for burger baskets followed by a malt for hubby and a twist cone for me.


Then it was off to the big outdoor screen to watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Expendables” and “Hercules.” OK, we didn’t stay for Hercules and after noshing on a large popcorn with extra butter I fell asleep 20 minutes into the main feature.

I guess living a day like a teenager in the ’50s, when I am actually in my 50s, was a little too much excitement for me.


Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to .  


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