My parents were school teachers. My father would work three jobs during the year so we would have enough money for a short vacation during the summer, nothing extravagant, just a week or so to relax before the next school year. We would sometimes travel with my extended family, my Dobbin (my great-grandmother), grandmother, and grandfather.
One year we took a trip to Cherokee Indian Reservation, in Cherokee North Carolina. My great-grandmother was full blooded Cherokee, and enjoyed seeing where her family had come from. On the reservation, there was one hotel, one restaurant, Custard’s Last Stand ice cream trailer, and dirt roads. There were however, a lot of novelty shops. One of those shops sold hats. With my fathers love of hats, he couldn’t resist the straw hat with the green band around the brim, and a feather, he saw in the window. He was so proud of that hat, he wore it every place we went.
Since there was only one restaurant on the reservation, we traveled across the Great Smokey Mountains to have lunch at Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My father, always the gentlemen, took off his hat and laid it on the floor in the back seat of the car, and strolled into the restaurant.
As lunch got underway, I quickly realized that I did not care for the taste of the hamburger I had ordered. When I expressed my dissatisfaction to my parents, my mother said “don’t eat it then”, but my father upset because he felt I was wasting money, said “you wanted it, you eat it”, so I did as I was told and ate the burger.
After lunch, my Dobbin and I returned to the car. My father soon followed and climbed into the drivers seat and began to plot our next destination. Suddenly I didn’t feel so well. I leaned forward to tell my dad, but when I opened my mouth it wasn’t words that came out. Yes, you guessed it…vomit. To my dads horror, I projected vomit down the back of his neck, into his shirt, and into his precious hat.
As my mother and grandmother emerged from the restaurant, my dad jumped out of the car, vomit dripping out of his shirt, and yelled, “Where have you been! She vomited in my new hat”. My mother, trying not to laugh, said “I told you not to make her eat the burger”.
The trip was over for my father’s new hat. It didn’t go any further than the nearest trash can. I think I saw a tear in my dad’s eye as he lifted the lid of the dumpster and tossed the hat that he loved so much into the dark abyss of the garbage.