We all have one…a family tree. Each one is unique with it’s own shapes, colors, and textures. Each branch, formed from the one before, branches out yet again with the support of the strong, seasoned wood beneath. Our parents and grandparents have grown our tree by passing down a strong work ethic, a devotion to their family and children, and an unlimited supply of unconditional love. Though our tree has some knots and scars, twisted branches and straight ones, our tree still thrives!
As a branch of the Evans family tree, I have had the honor and pleasure of being a part of a family that loves good food, Florida, loud family gatherings and cars. It is never a dull moment with us!
We love to color our Easter eggs red, pick an egg that we think is strong and then proceed to crack them on anothers to see if our egg can survive uncracked. We drive 23 hours non-stop to Florida, in cars with no airconditioning, while feasting on pastrami sandwiches on rye, with swiss, and spicy mustard. Thank goodness for the white wash cloth in the ice chest! We do all this while singing along to songs like “Band on the Run” and “Rock the Boat” and laughing ourselves silly!
Dado, I don’t know how you put up with us!
We have uncles who take us down scary pool slides when we are young, and later in life, help us with our chemistry. We have uncles who put up with the fact that their niece is so attached to her aunt’s hip that they have to take her everywhere they go (concerts, putt-putt, movies)! We have aunts who love to be our mentors, offering advice on how best to wear wax lips while smiling at folks in passing cars on the highway. They let us sing Heart songs from the liner notes, at the top of our lungs while wearing headphones ( I didn’t think anybody could hear me!), and they write loving, heart-felt advice in our high school graduation cards. They are amazing keepers of secrets!
I could go on and on…so I think I will.
Our Florida trips make up a big part of my fond memories. Tucked away on the Gulf coast, Treasure Island was the Evans family destination of choice for around 50 years. My grandparents started taking my dad and his siblings when they were young and continued with the grandkids in later years. I had the privlege of being the first of the grandkids, at the tender age of 2, to accompany the fam on these nostalgic road trips. Though I may have missed a few years as I have gotten older, most of my summers included this 2 week trip. Even some of the great grandkids have had the Suncoast Experience!
I loved days here! Baba and I, the early birds, would sit under the cabana or on the balcony, she sipping her coffee, I eating cheese danish and drinking cream soda or maybe grape, and we would watch the birds. I would ask her endless questions about how to say certain things in Bulgarian and she would oblige the best she could. A few hours later, Dado would emerge, clean shaven and smelling of aftershave ready to entertain the Suncoast visitors. And entertain he did. He always had plenty of jokes to share and the people loved him. Baba and Dado developed such strong friendships with the folks who came for those iconic two weeks in June that many planned the same trip year after year.
Our days in Florida were spent lounging in the sun, taking group walks down the beach and snacking. After cleaning up in the late afternoon, we would all pile in cars to go get all-you-can-eat crab legs (Dado would find the best deal in the newspaper), burgers at Ted Peters or pasta at Campanellis. Family pictues were always taken in the evenings. Tanned skin, white shorts and great Bulgarian genes made our family pictures look like a bunch of models posing for a magazine ad. We would come back to the Suncoast after supper and the kids would get a game of baseball or volleyball going while the parents and grandparents enjoyed a refreshing beverage or two and some not so quiet shuffleboard competitions.
Oh how wonderful these memories are and I have my grandparents to thank for letting me be their first “Florida Girl” and another branch of the the Evans Family Tree!