Back when I was writing a column regularly, readers would often ask me where I found the material. I would tell them that I just described things that happened to me or things I would come across in daily living. After I stopped writing, I frequently would see something and think, “That would have made a good column.” The one below is one of those.

As the summer sun sets on our vacations and activities of the season, let’s take time to sit down with a lemonade or sweet tea (I’ve been reading a lot of Southern novels) and enjoy the memories of what we have done.


For the first time I went on a solo vacation, only partly by choice. I’ve traveled to conferences and to visit friends by myself, but this would be the first vacation by myself.

I liked the idea of New England in the summer and I like small boat cruising, so I signed up. Had my husband been alive, he would have too busy in his vineyard to go, in spite of being retired from his day job. My sister couldn’t leave her cat.

Dr. Robert Scott, 73, died June 30 at University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

I kind of looked forward to striking out on my own, not having to accommodate anyone else’s schedule or plans. I had some projects I could work on and of course there are always books!

Friends suggested ways to meet people. One suggested wearing something of my alma mater (Western Maryland, now McDaniel, College) to start a conversation. So off I went to the college bookstore. I didn’t think I’d need a sweatshirt (I was wrong) and I don’t wear baseball caps, so I bought a visor with the college name on it — and a ballpoint pen. You know how often someone needs to borrow a pen. I was ready.

I didn’t need either of those things. At the first meal on the boat I sat down with a family of four, a grandfather, mother and two daughters (which quickly assured me that I would not be the youngest one on board — far from it) and an older lady.

As we were introducing ourselves and saying where we were from, the lady next to me said, “Westminster, Maryland?” I said, “Do you know it?” and she said she had gone to school there! My alma mater, and I didn’t need the visor or the pen.

We ran into each other frequently during the trip and recalled people we had each known. On the last day I learned that we had been in the same local sorority.

On our first bus trip, the front seat was empty when I boarded so I took it. As a lady on a walker made her way up the steps, I offered the seat to her and her daughter. I moved back a row on the other side and another daughter sat with me.

One of the fun things about these trips is learning what other people do as occupations and hobbies. My seatmate, Barb, was a music teacher and played Taps at funerals as needed, one of the few women to do so. She belongs to a volunteer group who answer the call.

Later at lunch another day, I asked to join their table as one seat was vacant. They were a family of five: the mother, Dorothy; sisters Barbara, Deb and Kathy; and brother Jim.

They were glad for me to join them as being just five and most tables were for six, couples looked elsewhere. And as I got to know them better, I was happy I could fill that sixth chair.

As we shared our stories, I learned that this was a most interesting, talented family and liked each other well enough to want to travel together every year. They were musicians, teachers, nurses and a doctor. But at the head of the clan was Dorothy. After raising five children (the son in California couldn’t make it this year), and being divorced, she went to law school so she could be a voice for the underserved. She retired from practicing law at 80 and has lived alone in Greenwich Village, New York, for many years. She is now 88.

Although the children are scattered around the United States one or more manages to get back to New York every month. They get together for Christmas and once a year take such a trip as I’ve been fortunate to share this year.

Friends have asked me what I liked best about this vacation, and I know it was meeting delightful people like the Keller family.


What did you do on your summer vacation?

Carolyn Scott writes from Westminster.