All of the Postcards From National Lampoon's Vacation Opening Title Sequence

Monday, August 29, 2022

Summertime is always fun, and we've had some fun this year for sure.  Around here, though, the days are a bit cooler, and the leaves are already turning colors and falling down.  It's not quite Labor Day, but... here we are.  

It seems like, mentally, most of us are already in Fall mode.  Stores are putting out the Halloween candy, some kids have returned to school, and we collector nerds are on the hunt for the special limited edition Halloween items.  

We've even had our first taste of New England's apple cider donuts, and my wife has picked up a few new autumn decorations.  Even my daughter is excited for "Hallah-bean" this year, thanks to youTube's algorithm pushing the Halloween Mickey Mouse special episodes.

But, as we look ahead to fall, we press on with the final days of summer.  

The final entry into our YesterYear Summer of 2022 is meant to remind us that summer and summer vacations are lifelong memories.  

I cherish my summer vacation memories, as I'm sure you do.  The good, bad, ugly, or indifferent, I wouldn't trade them for the world.  I mean, it's not like we went on an around-the-world cruise on a private yacht with a gold toilet, but... that'll never happen.  To be totally honest, I wouldn't trade my summers in New York and Maine as a kid for that kind of trip, either.  

In order to honor the memories of summer vacation, what better way to take a look back at the best summer vacation movie of all time... National Lampoon's Vacation, of course!

National Lampoon's Vacation, often referred to as simply "Vacation," is the 1983 road trip comedy starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, and John Candy.  Supermodel Christie Brinkley makes her acting debut, with special appearances by Eugene Levy and Brian Doyle-Murray.  The film was directed by 80s comedy icon Harold Ramis and written by fellow 80s movie legend John Hughes.  The story is based on Hughes' original short story titled Vacation '58, which had appeared years earlier in National Lampoon Magazine.  

National Lampoon's Vacation was successful immediately, with a low budget of $15 million, the film earned $60 million during its first run of theaters in the United States  Based on this success, five sequels have been produced, although most fans only consider three to be actual sequels.  

European Vacation was released in 1985, followed in 1989 by Christmas Vacation, the most successful film of the franchise.  Vegas Vacation followed nearly a decade later in 1997, but lacked the comedic style of the previous two.  This was likely because it was rated PG compared to PG-13 of the two other sequels or the R rating of the original Vacation.  

Following these two was the made-for-tv "Christmas Vacation 2," which barely included any original cast members.  In 2015, a "reboot/sequel" starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate was released to moderate success.  Chevy Chase and Beverley D'Angelo reprise their roles of Clark and Ellen Griswold in the reboot.  

By the way, if you're looking for a great video of "filming locations" based on the 1983 movie, check out the video made by YouTuber "Adam the Woo."  He has an eclectic collection of videos from filming locations, Disney World, roadside attractions, and even baseball games.  You can see his video below, and I'll add it to the Video Drive-In. 

Wanting to spend more time with his wife Ellen and children Rusty and Audrey, Clark decides to lead the family on a cross-country road trip from the suburbs of Chicago to a southern California amusement park Walley World, a spoof of Disneyland.  Ellen wants to fly, but Clark insists on driving to have more time to bond with his family.  He has ordered a new car for the trip, but after a "mixup" at the dealership, he is forced to buy the "Wagon Queen Family Truckster," a large, ugly green station wagon.  The car becomes a sort of character itself throughout the movie.

During the road trip, the family experiences numerous mishaps.  From being targeted by vandals in St. Louis to being shot at by bartenders in Dodge City, the most memorable event in the film is Clark's repeated encounters with a beautiful young woman driving a flashy red Ferrari 308GTS (Christie Brinkley.)

After stopping at Ellen's cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie's farm in Kansas, the family is forced to take cranky old Aunt Edna home to her son Norman in Phoenix.  Along the way, Ellen loses her purse, including her cash and credit cards.

During a drive between Utah and Arizona, the car crashes while Clark and Ellen argue and become stranded in the desert near Monument Valley.  Clark sets off alone to seek help and is eventually reunited with his family after spending several hours walking through the hot desert.  His family had been rescued hours earlier by mechanics who fixed the Griswold's car.  The mechanic extorts Clark for all of his remaining cash and leaves the car barely operational.  

After stopping at the Grand Canyon, Clark tries to cash a personal check, but the hotel clerk refuses, so Clark is forced to raid the register behind the clerk's back.  

After leaving the Grand Canyon, Aunt Edna dies in her sleep.  They tie her body to the roof of the car and head for Norman's house but when he isn't home, they leave her in a chair by the back door in the pouring rain with a note pinned to her clothing.  

Overwhelmed by the disasters they have encountered on the trip, Ellen and the children want to turn around and head for home.  Clark has become obsessed about reaching Walley World, and forces them to continue.  

That night, after another argument with Ellen, Clark goes to the hotel bar, where he finally meets the Ferrari-driving blonde.  The two go skinny-dipping in the pool, but they are discovered by the family - and the whole hotel- before anything intimate happens.  Ellen forgives Clark, and they go skinny-dipping themselves.  

Despite the setbacks, they arrive the next day with high spirits to discover that Walley World is closed for repairs.  

Slipping deep into insanity, Clark purchases a realistic-looking BB gun and demands that the park security guard (John Candy) take them through the park and allow them to ride every attraction.  

Eventually, the LAPD SWAT team arrives and arrests the family.  As they are being handcuffed, park owner Roy Walley (a spoof of Walt Disney played by Eddie Bracken) arrives.  Roy understands Clark's desire for the perfect family vacation and decides not to file criminal charges against the Griswolds.  

The closing credits include a photo montage of their trip with the final photo showing that the family flew back to Chicago rather than endure another drive.

The closing credits aren't the only photo montage in the film.  The opening sequence highlights fifty-two different postcards featuring various roadside attractions, major cities, and other Americana.  

In looking to make the final Summer of '22 post special, I thought we'd look at each of the postcards in the most summer-road trip movie I could think of!  

Click Keep Reading and let's get started!  

Summer Memories

Monday, August 22, 2022

Summer is beginning to draw to a close.  It's been fun, but it has definitely flown by quickly this year.  With the new house, work schedule, chasing the little one around, and other things going on this summer... I feel like I've barely blinked, and the summer rapidly passed by.  

While Autumn is my favorite season, it's always a little sad when I think about the passing of another summer.  All of the promise and potential of the summer season has faded, and half of what I set out to do never got completed.  

I once heard that you only get 18 summers to spend with your children, and this was already our third summer together.  I'd like to think the three of us here made the most of our summer together in our new home.  But like many people, I suppose, I always think about what more I could or should have done with the little one to make things more memorable.  Especially when my line of work takes me away from home for days at a time, the regrets caused by time begin to pile up.

My Grandfather always said the older you get, the faster time goes.  He even joked that he was so old he shouldn't bother getting out of bed in the morning, but I've actually read that he was correct.  While time itself never changes, our perceptions indeed do.  

When you're young, the days at school seem like they take forever.  It's all relative because, at a young age, we have very little to compare those hours to.  At an older age, 8 hours seems short compared to the past 50 years, but those same 8 hours compared to the past 8 years of a child's life seem much longer.  

It's all perception.  Of course, in 2022, we also have more things that occupy our time.  How many times have you pulled out your phone to "kill time," and next thing you know, an hour has gone by?

Summers went fast when I was a kid, too.  I'd have my whole summer mapped out when school let out in June.  Before I knew it, it was the middle of August, and our family was heading for two weeks of lakeside relaxation in Maine as we did every year.  We'd come home from our vacation, and we'd sometimes only have a week before Labor Day, and school would start again.  

The stack of mail one of our neighbors collected for us was one of the few things that took the sting off of coming home.  I'd rush into the house and sort the mail for myself, my brother, Mom, and Dad.  I'd search for my school schedule to find out who my teacher would be.  I'd then immediately call my friends to tell them I was home and see if we had any classes together.  Once the minivan was unpacked, I'd start begging to get Mom to take me to the drug store to pick up my new school supplies.  These days, Target puts up the "Back to School" supplies in June, but back then, they'd pop up toward the end of August, and the selection would be pretty limited.  

It was always a tough decision when selecting my lunch box.  Will this be the year that having a Batman lunchbox is no longer cool?  Could I get away with the Ninja Turtles folders and notebooks that I really wanted, or did I have to go with the dull solid colors to avoid the mockery of other kids?  

I've been quite busy these last weeks, so forgive this abbreviated post.  At work, I have periods where I'm forced to sit and do nothing, and that's when I get my best thinking in.  My mind has been wandering to summers of years gone by lately.

My last "carefree" summer was 1998.  I hung out with my friends, and we mostly watched and discussed pro wrestling.  In 1999, I got my first real job working for a landscaping company.  By company, I mean that it was just a guy with a pickup truck my Mom knew somehow, but I worked the backpack leaf blower and weed trimmer.  There was a nasty heat wave in 1999, just like there was this year, and I remember going out to work long days in 100-degree weather until most of the lawns were so dead there was nothing to cut.  I lived for rainy days that summer when he'd call early in the morning and say we were rained out.  Honestly, I'd rather he had called out on the 100-degree day and gone to work in the rain.

Every summer after that, I got a seasonal job to make some pocket money and fill my time.  I worked jobs that ranged from stocking shelves in a craft store to playing with dogs in a boarding kennel.  In the summer of 2005, I got my first paid flying job, and I've only flown planes for a living ever since.

I've spent some time thinking about those summer jobs and the summer activities from my youth.  I've written about most of those before, and rather than write a full-length article this week while I'm short on time, I'd like to post a collection of links to various pieces about summer memories in case you missed one or would want to reread them.  

Thanks for your continued support here at YesterYear!  Happy Summer!

Please Click "Keep Reading" for the list of links!

The Beach Boys and Hawaii - 55 Years Later

Monday, August 15, 2022

When I was little, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I was convinced my Dad was one of The Beach Boys.  

My folks had a large CD player in the hallway between the living room and kitchen, and one day I found a Beach Boys CD with a photo of the group on the cover.  To my young eyes, one of the guys looked sorta-kinda-maybe-halfway like my Dad, or what I imagined he looked like when he was younger with longer, shaggy hair.  

When you're 4 or 5, you always assume anyone older than you is really old.  To be honest, at the time, my Dad was probably the same age or younger than I am now, but back then, he was just "old," and so were The Beach Boys.  

I once saw a photo of my Dad in what was probably his mid-20s, and like many men in the 1970s did, he had longer hair than he had at the time I found that Beach Boys album.  I just assumed the man with the similar hair on the album cover was him, and for a while, I was convinced he had been one of the Beach Boys.  I don't even remember which band member I thought he was, since now viewing the band with my old eyes, I don't see anyone similar.  

I've loved the band's music ever since, and they are still one of my go-to stations on Pandora.  I don't really know their names or much about the band, but their music still makes me tap my feet, drum my fingers, and sing along.  

I got to thinking about all of this at work the other day.  Everyone I know or work with seems to be going to Hawaii, or they just came back or are planning to go soon.  Hawaii just appears to be back at the top of the "hot spot" vacation list.  I think pent-up demand following the release of COVID restrictions is at an all-time high, and people are just eager to go somewhere.  

To me, Hawaii has always had a retro vibe.  I've never been to the islands, but I feel like it was THE 80s and 90s vacation destination.  It was featured on nearly every sitcom back then, from The Brady Bunch to Saved by the Bell.  It was also spoofed and featured in cartoons such as Garfield in Paradise

The Beach Boys 25 Years Together celebration "live" from Waikiki Beach on ABC was also a pretty big television event in the 80s.  Before the internet, a million cable channels, or streaming services diluting the viewership, things like this on network television were considered cultural moments that nearly everyone participated in.  

I have vague memories of the Beach Boys Waikiki celebration growing up.  I'm pretty sure this is something my parents would have made sure they watched or recorded on the VCR.  I can't recall when I initially saw this tribute concert if my folks were watching it recorded on a VHS or if it was something they watched on television while I played with my toys in the evening.  It must have been recorded because I always had to go to bed early, and 8 PM would have definitely been past my bedtime in 1987.

Then again, the memories in my head may be getting confused with that time the cast of Full House sang with the Beach Boys.  On the Season Two episode that aired November 18, 1988, titled "Beach Boy Bingo," the Beach Boys made a guest appearance on the hit sitcom.  The band makes several appearances and sings several songs, much to the excited studio audience's pleasure.  In the end, the Tanner family gets on stage and sings Barbara Ann with the band live at a concert.  

The concert on the show was set in San Francisco, but it was actually filmed following a USC Trojans football game against the University of California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.   

This year, on August 25, 2022, 55 years will have passed since The Beach Boys debuted in Hawaii with a pair of concerts at the Honolulu International Center Arena.

It's also my tenth wedding anniversary to my beautiful wife, Lauren!  Happy Anniversary, honey! 

My interest was piqued by all of this Beach Boys and Hawaii talk.  So, let's take a look back at The Beach BBoys'time in Hawaii, starting with their debut in Honolulu in 1967 and their 25th Anniversary Celebration from Waikiki in 1987!

My Favorite Board Games Growing Up In the 90s

Monday, August 8, 2022

When I think of summer, I tend to think of things like sunny days, sand on the beach, and hot, muggy afternoons.  Unfortunately, sometimes old Mother Nature has other plans and it rains.  Sometimes it downright pours.  

Oddly enough, I loved rainy summer days when I was a kid.  On most days when it would rain, my Brother and I would roll into Gramp's and Granny's house next door to kill time.

Granny and Gramps often had the air conditioner running when we got there.  My parents never used their AC, so it was just pleasant walking into the cold air.  The chilly air blasting from the air conditioner, the carpeted living room floor, and the big TV right by the front door made for a great little retreat to play in for us kids on a hot, humid, rainy summer day.  

When we got a little older, my Brother and I would hang out at home by ourselves for most of the day.  We'd always head for the television and watch MTV and VH1 for music videos so my Brother could play disc jockey for the whole neighborhood.  Seriously... he'd open the windows and crank the TV as loud as he could.  When I got to watch a non-music-related program, he'd go upstairs, put his radio in the window (facing out, of course), and blast his songs of choice to the whole block.  Who could forget his "Thunder Rolls" era where that Garth Brooks little diddy was played on a loop ad nauseam?

It was on one of these days where we also discovered Pro Beach Hockey, which you can read about HERE.  

When he wasn't entertaining the neighbors with his musical selection, my Brother got really into playing the original DOOM on our computer.  I'd pull up a chair and watch him march right through the entire game in one sitting.  The trick was to make it look like we didn't just spend 8 straight hours at the computer when our parents got home from work.  Sitting next to him while he played DOOM was much better than when he played Nintendo.  I'd be banished from the living room or forced to sit facing the corner because otherwise, I was considered "bad luck."  

One of the ways I often entertained myself was to play some of the board games we kept in the closet by myself.  

I know, I know... most board games are played between two or more people, but more often than not, I was playing by myself out of necessity.  It's kind of hard to play against yourself, but I frequently looked at it like it was just taking extra turns.  Occasionally, if it was a weekend or evening, Mom or Dad would play with me, but my Brother never liked playing board games.  Or at least playing them with me, anyway.  

Board games were fun, even if I did have to play alone.  My wife and I still play them occasionally, most recently the Pan Am or Rear Window games from Funko.  Check it out with this Amazon affiliate link; if you're interested, click HERE.

Reflecting upon board games of the past, I figured we could all enjoy another stroll down memory lane as we make another entry into the YesterYear Summer of '22.  Let's look back at the 5 board games I played the most while growing up in the 90s! 

This Month In YesterYear History - August

Monday, August 1, 2022

It's already August and a new month brings a new edition of "This Month in YesterYear History!"   

Please CLICK HERE to read last month's feature if you missed it!  

In this series, we'll take a brief look back at the "best" or "top" of pop culture from 20 (2002), 25 (1997), and 30 (1992) years ago!    

Using a conglomeration of websites, I've pieced together a little time capsule of what was significant in life during those days.   

Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses from the past, you'll remember the who, when, and where of your memories from that time period.  That's what this site is all about, after all!

So, get into those time machines, my friends!  We're headed back to 20, 25, and 30 years ago!