My turn

Taking Dad for a road trip down memory lane

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z Taking Dad for a road trip down memory laneCarrie Steinweg Times Columnist
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I’d like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. This Father’s Day will be a tough one for our family, since we just lost my father-in-law less than a month ago to cancer.

Father’s Day was often spent with him, usually with a backyard barbecue and it just won’t feel the same without him there.

I usually spend a weekday just after Father’s Day having lunch and maybe a movie with my dad to celebrate Father’s Day. Besides going to Cubs games, having lunch together at restaurants is our favorite thing to do together. This year we’ll do lunch together again, but we’ll roll it into a full day together.

A couple of years ago, I thought it would be fun to do a road trip with him to Charleston, the central Illinois town where he grew up. So, we’ve got that on the calendar. I’ve been putting it off for a long time and I’m glad we are finally going to make time for it.

I’ve been to Charleston a few times over the years for family reunions. Both of my parents were born and grew up there. They married in the early 1960s (actually, yesterday they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary) and soon after, they moved up to the Chicago area and have lived here ever since.

On previous visits, Dad pointed out places he remembered from his childhood. The highlight of the trip was driving past an old white frame house on Lincoln Avenue where my dad was born and lived until he was in his 20s. The home was just across the street from the campus of Eastern Illinois University. Dad lived in that house up until he finished college and was drafted into the U.S. Army.

While the home was a private residence on our previous visits, Dad learned that it is now a real estate office, so he’s really looking forward to being able to step inside and see how different the place is now compared to when he lived there.

My grandmother was a teacher and planned ahead, starting to pay tuition when my dad was a baby so that he could attend the campus elementary school and high school. It was a small school on the EIU campus attended mostly by the children of the college professors. There was no kindergarten, but he attended first grade through college all on that same campus just across the street from his home.

I love that so many years later, he still has no need for a map to find anything there and that we can bump into people on the street that recognize him even though they haven’t seen him in decades.

I’m looking forward to bringing a couple of my boys along to also see the place where grandma and grandpa grew up and they seem genuinely interested in seeing the locations and hearing stories.

I’ve heard so many myself. I’m sure we’ll hear about his Uncle Clyde’s gas station where he and his brother would stop everyday for a bottle of Coca Cola and a candy bar. And the time he hit a home run while playing baseball in high school. And the movies that he went to see in the theater downtown. And the friends he hung out with. And the places he worked.

We’ll go by the local grocery store (that was called Wilb Walker’s the last time I was there). We’ll drive around the square and see the county courthouse. We’ll pass Morton Park where I attended reunions as a child. We’ll drive around campus where he can point out the buildings where he attended classes.

It will be a fun way to celebrate Father’s Day for all of us.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at

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