Today for Road Trip Wednesday, YA Highway asks, What book brings back memories? There are probably many I could name if I gave it some thought, but the first book that popped into my mind was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
It isn’t the fact that Tom Sawyer is such a fantastic book that makes it memorable to me. It’s the circumstances under which I read it. In the summer of 1965, my dad’s company, TRW, was sending him to Cocoa Beach, Florida for a satellite launch. As an electronic technician, he’d made that trip a number of times, spending a month or so near Cape Kennedy (or it could have been Cape Canaveral back then) helping to ready whatever satellite he was working on for launch into orbit.
That particular year, the summer of ’65, he decided to take his daughters with him. My 12-year-old sister, Debbie, and I (I was 10), got out of school a week early and drove with Dad in his 1955 Ford station wagon. Our 13-year-old sister, Linda, would come later by plane with a friend.
The drive to Florida took five days, with my Dad driving as long as he could until we either stopped at a motel or slept in the car. Along the way, I think in Texas, we stopped at a truck stop where they had books for sale. I’m not sure what it was about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that caught my eye, but I asked my dad to buy it for me. I then read the book as we drove through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on our way to Florida.
As I read Tom Sawyer, I was literally in the world of the book. It seemed like the descriptions took on a new vividness because it felt like I was there with Tom. Later when I read Huckleberry Finn, it was the same (although by then I’d returned home to Southern California). I remembered what it felt like to be in the South and that book, as Tom Sawyer did, became a part of me.
I’ve re-read both books several times (most recently as a Kindle version). Tom Sawyer has never lost its charm. It always pulls me back to our own adventures on the road and that hot, humid summer in Florida.