Essentials for every family vacation

Each of my parents had an unwritten list of essentials to take when our family ― of, holy cow, eight ― left the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth on our annual August vacation.

For example, my mother never crossed the state line without a wide-mouth quart jar filled with soapy water and a washcloth so she could keep her children “presentable,” presumably in case of a car crash.

I can’t count the number of times my face was scrubbed with a soapy, cold washcloth from an upcycled mayonnaise jar.

Also, Mom always packed an oilcloth tablecloth just in case we stopped to eat in the middle of nowhere after leaving home in the middle of the night to arrive in the middle of Missouri or Kentucky or Tennessee two hours early.

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