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Summer Road-Tripping While Black by Allyson Hobbs

Creating family memories meant taking a risk. My dad got behind the wheel anyway.

Credit K. L. Ricks

I always knew that the lazy days of summer were coming to an end when my family piled into our 1979 black Cadillac Eldorado with red leather interior and began a two-day journey from Morristown, N.J., to Hilton Head Island, S.C.

In the late 1970s, my father saw advertisements that touted the natural beauty of Hilton Head and he wanted to experience it. My parents decided our family would have a vacation — time for family bonding and memory making — just like other families. So, two weeks before Labor Day, my father hoisted a four-bike rack onto the top of the car and tucked our wooden tennis rackets into the dwindling pockets of space in the trunk. 

Every road trip has a soundtrack, and ours was filled with R&B classics. My favorite song was Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 summer anthem, “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” It made me believe we were stealing time, flipping the calendar back to July. Those summer days. That’s when I had most of my fun.

I always knew that the lazy days of summer were coming to an end when my family piled into our 1979 black Cadillac Eldorado with red leather interior and began a two-day journey from Morristown, N.J., to Hilton Head Island, S.C.

In the late 1970s, my father saw advertisements that touted the natural beauty of Hilton Head and he wanted to experience it. My parents decided our family would have a vacation — time for family bonding and memory making — just like other families. So, two weeks before Labor Day, my father hoisted a four-bike rack onto the top of the car and tucked our wooden tennis rackets into the dwindling pockets of space in the trunk. 

Every road trip has a soundtrack, and ours was filled with R&B classics. My favorite song was Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 summer anthem, “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” It made me believe we were stealing time, flipping the calendar back to July. Those summer days. That’s when I had most of my fun.

I was too busy reading “Ramona the Brave” and guarding my space in the nonexistent middle seat between my two older sisters to notice that my father was growing more and more uncomfortable the farther south we drove. Once it got dark, the car fell silent. Before U.S. Highway 278 was completed in 1998, we had to follow a maze of two-lane country roads to get to Hilton Head.