Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 80

By | June 26, 2024

[June 26, 2024]  One trait of my Mom that I admired was that she could remain calm while the chaos of us children swirled all around her.  She grew up the youngest of five, maybe that’s why she never lost her “Well, I declare!” sense when surprised or her appreciation of her family.  That’s the only way I knew she was caught off guard.  I wish that I could be that way, not knowing where my kids were and trusting them to return home safely on their own accord.

Dad would scoop us all up for two weeks each year and drive us on another Family Vacation.  And, sure enough, the car drive was something to behold for what seemed like forever.  “Are we there yet?”

We kids loved our grandparents, so we made a pit stop in Bonita.  We were there when the Post Office burnt to the ground.  I’m unsure what the month was, but I think it was early June.  This upset Bigmama because she was expecting a mail-order dress from Sears & Roebucks, which she had ordered directly from their catalog, and she was going to wear it to church on the 4th of July.  After begging Mom and Dad to leave us, we loaded back into our 1964 Chevrolet Belair, metallic blue with a 350 V8 and automatic transmission.  That car my Dad loved.  He called her the “cat’s meow.”  It was a good car, well built, powerful, and with plenty of exterior armor, 19-gauge steel.  Before seat belts were required by law, we played all over that bench backseat.

Mom’s “job” was to keep us entertained so Dad could keep his sanity.  Counting red cars, or any color, got old quickly.  A favorite was seeing who could find the most different state license plates.  Nothing worked that well, and it was a matter of toughing it out and tolerating our screaming and crying.  And we would argue about who got to sit in the middle seat.  Terri was the smallest, so she had less pull.  The best rear seat position was behind Mom because Dad smoked while driving and flicked his cigarette butts out his window, lookout if he missed.  Wherever we stopped for a bathroom break, we’d dash out of the car running like crazy people.

On one trip, we drove from Louisiana to Six Flags Over Texas, mostly on Interstate 20, a six-hour trip over the high plains of northeast Texas to the amusement park in Arlington, just west of Dallas.  Arriving late that evening and checking into the Cabana Motor Hotel, I wandered off and got lost in the maze of corridors, twists, and turns of the giant ten-story building.  Dad was a stickler for “civilized behavior.” After finding myself in the lobby in a state of panic, surrounded by police and hotel staff, I didn’t know if I wanted to run to him, throw my arms around him, or have the police take me away to jail, thus avoid the embarrassment I had brought upon my family.

On the way out to the amusement park, Dad stopped at a roadside “rock museum” in a little town just off the road, about an hour inside Texas.  He saw a billboard advertising it as the “ninth wonder of the world.”  But it did hold a special place in our hearts because the store next door had some great burgers.  Mom had packed a picnic lunch – like always, to save money – but we begged and got to eat the juiciest hamburger ever.  Mom had to clean us up in the Ladies’ bathroom, and nobody cared.

My Dad was a career railroadman, and he wanted nothing more than to spend time with us, forgetting about the stresses of his job.  The 1960s saw the beginning of the decline of railroads, and his job required keeping business coming in while also maintaining high safety standards.  So, it would be natural that he wanted us to experience the Cajun culture centered in Shreveport, Louisiana.  We were starving when we visited Crawdaddy’s Kitchen, an authentic hole-in-the-wall specializing in some real spicy food.  It would be my first time eating alligator; it tastes like chicken.  Others had crawfish pie, Jambalaya, gumbo, and some kind of fish stew that Mom liked.  I laughed when my brother took a big bite of Jambalaya and barfed it up.  “I can’t take you anywhere,” Dad said, shaking his head.

Six Flags was the Mecca for us kids from Louisiana.  It was kind of a Shangri-la and Santa’s toy workshop all rolled into one.  That first day whizzed by as we stared, mouth wide open, in sheer amazement at the grandiosity of the park.  And it was huge beyond description.  None of us had ever seen such a place, and its splendor far exceeded the tiny country fairs we’d attended, which were a hundred, no, a thousand times better.  That was the time I was looking up and was briefly separated from my family, PANIC.  Thanks to a kind woman, she helped me relocate my Mom.  I would never admit to anybody that I had gotten “lost.”

I was the family photographer on this trip and carried the easy-to-use Kodak Instamatic X-15.  This camera was advanced technology at the time because there was no need to focus, and the camera had a Magicube flash.  Great.  Clutching it in my tiny 13-year-old hands, I might not have been good at picture composition, but I made up for it with enthusiasm.  After returning home and having the film developed, I discovered that sunlight had inadvertently leaked in and exposed the film on twelve rolls of film.  So, there were no photos of us, my brother making stupid faces, my sister crying, or the classic vacation posed pictures – such a BUMMER.

On the return trip, we visited a donkey farm in the middle of nowhere.  As we drove on the dirt roads, we did see plenty of donkeys doing what donkeys do.  Mom covered her face.  The farm owner sternly warned us to keep our windows rolled up, but without air conditioning in the car, we left them all down, except Mom, who steadfastly followed the rules.  I discovered that there is nothing more gross than staring at the large nostrils full of green donkey snot.  Donkeys also have a habit of shaking their heads, which can launch donkey boogers into the car’s backseats.  Terri asked our Dad if she could get a donkey for her next birthday.  No!

I don’t exactly recall when it happened on our trip, but we happily looked forward to visiting a Civil War museum and “encampment” somewhere in western Louisiana.  The tour was narrated by a young teenage girl who was visibly bored.  Her spiel was recently memorized.  Bless his little heart, but Philip decided that today was the day he would act up.  He sat in General Ulysses S. Grant’s office chair and refused to depart from behind a desk when the tour guide teenager asked him.  He was so cute, being dragged out by Mom.  Any Civil War Museum is worth a look; some are a “must-see” if you are in the area.  We paid our $1.00 fee for the entire family and left for home.

While this trip was FINALLY coming to an end, we were hardly talking to one another.  I’ve visited or lived in over 30 countries and 18 different U.S. states, and at one time, I was a most-valued Delta airline passenger with top-notch privileges.  But I can barely remember many of them specifically.  However, that trip to Texas is SEARED into my memory.


NOTE: See all my letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 80

  1. Lou Schmerconish

    Another homerun by Gen. Satterfield with this letter. Who else likes to read about family vacations anyway?

  2. Nuevo Byrd

    I’m one that doesn’t comment often, but in this case I will. Great letter. Those “family vacations” probably are no longer happening in America because our family structure is breaking down. And while that is sad, it is great to hear from Gen. Satterfield about his experiences as a kid in the 1960s. BIG BIG BIG Fan of this site and of these letters to his granddaughter.

  3. American Girl

    Gen. Satterfield is a patriot, Christian, family man, combat veteran, advocate for children and veterans, and the kind of man you can rely upon to get the job done and protect those around him. He may not like the tag, but he is a real gun-toting cowboy. And I love him.

  4. Oakie from OK

    I grew up in the late 1960s and 70s, and it looks like Gen. Satterfield and me have very similar experiences even though I grew up in Oklahoma. And, I do know he spent time in Oklahoma, if my memory is correct from his LinkedIn profile, he got his Masters Degree at Oklahoma State University. Excellent!!!! These shared experiences are what brings us humans together. And where we live matters too. Most of us Oklahoma folks are from the rural parts of the state and are real cowboys and cowgirls and love our state and our nation. Let’s keep supporting this website by making comments and reading it daily. I do. I only wish that I’d had met Gen. Satterfield when he lived near me.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      I lived there once when I was in the Air Force, stationed on Tinker Air Force Base at Oklahoma City, OK. Great base and I’m proud of my six years in the USAF. Now, I do contracting work for them.

  5. Valkerie

    General Satterfield keeps setting the standard higher and higher for his letters and for his articles. Sir, well done!

  6. Scotty Bush

    Another long time reader here. I must say this is one of the best letters and best overall articles on this blog in a long long time. And, I do enjoy reading the stories by Gen. Satterfield. His last long series turned into a book “Our Longest Year in Iraq” and “55 Rules for a Good Life.” Maybe this one will be the same an be another book. Will it be?

  7. Willie Strumburger

    HALARIOUS =====
    “On the return trip, we visited a donkey farm in the middle of nowhere. As we drove on the dirt roads, we did see plenty of donkeys doing what donkeys do. Mom covered her face. The farm owner sternly warned us to keep our windows rolled up, but without air conditioning in the car, we left them all down, except Mom, who steadfastly followed the rules. I discovered that there is nothing more gross than staring at the large nostrils full of green donkey snot. Donkeys also have a habit of shaking their heads, which can launch donkey boogers into the car’s backseats. Terri asked our Dad if she could get a donkey for her next birthday. No!”

  8. H. M. Longstreet

    Amazing that these letters are already up to Number 80. I couldn’t imagine back over a year ago when you started this series that it would actually last to number 100 as in the original promise made to your granddaughter. Following thru was not easy but worth every minute I’ve taken to read them. 😊

    1. Kerry

      HM, yep. I re-read them all again last week. Fantastic. And, entertaining.

  9. Melissa Jackson

    WOW, another letter to Gen. S’s granddaughter and a long one this time. Well done!

  10. Yusaf from Texas

    Gen. Satterfield does it again with another wonderful and loving letter. One thing I will say, being a fan of the entire series, is that I can see growth in these letters. Not his childhood growth but growth in the quality and entertainment value of these letters. I do hope, and I’ve written this before, I do hope that Gen. Satterfield publishes these letters for us into a book and that he draws the connect-the-dots articles too. Thanks for reading my ramblings. I will note that I am one of the first commentators on this blog and JT and I are forever in the debt of Gen. S. for pulling us out of our doldrums. THANKS. LOVING LETTER.

  11. Aussie

    Sir, once again, thank you for sharing this letter for your granddaughter. I don’t know how old or mature she is, but when she is an adult I’m sure she will appreciate your letters more and more. I went back to read your introductory letter to her and can better understand where you are coming from and ultimately why you are writing these article. Sir, I never gave it a thought that I might actually one day want to read what my grandparents thought about or what they did, it was just as it was. Today is different.

  12. Ice Man

    While this trip was FINALLY coming to an end, we were hardly talking to one another. CLASSIC

  13. KRause

    Sir, thank you for making my day with another letter to your granddaughter and inspiring me to write for my children and their children.

  14. Emma Archambeau

    General Satterfield wow wow wow wow, another letter to your granddaughter and I thought this one is your very best. No 80. A special marker for excellence. I’m starting to log on to your website just to see if there is another letter for me to read and enjoy. For those who part of your fan club that have these letters as their most loved, then we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. One day, I too hope to have grandchildren and I will definiately write them letters for when they grow up.

  15. Judy Judy Judy

    I’m new to this blog by Douglas R. Satterfield, but I like what I’ve read so far and this “letter to my granddaughter” is a perfect example.

    1. Saul McPherson

      Welcome to the best leadership blog out there where you will see a diversity of subjects and common sense analysis by Gen. Satterfield. Occasionally, he will have someone else give a guest article for us to read and think about. Gen. S. advises us how to think, not what to think. WELCOME

        1. Steve Dade

          Indeed, welcome Judy.

        2. North of Austin

          Welcome Judy and I wish that you might consider my proposition to go out and get others to read this website by Gen. Doug Satterfield and to convince them that it is worth reading every day. Go back and look over the topics covered and the broad range of ideas presented here. BUt also be sure to read the comments in the leadership forum to gain an idea of how to better understand or create more detail on the article of the day. And, there is an article per day. We’ve tried to convince Gen. Satterfield to write more articles, but we understand he is a very busy man. Thanks for reading his blog and welcome aboard.

          1. Darryl Satterly

            Good to see you on, North of Austin. Yes, and I too appreciate these letters.

    2. JT Patterson

      Yes, welcome to General Satterfield’s best of the best leadership pages and these letters to his granddaughter have become sort of a flagship of his ability to tell stories.


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