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I used to love going to see my grandparents (both sets) in Stamford.

I can remember my parents coming to get me at my elementary school an hour or two early on holiday getaway days, so we could set off on the lengthy trip from western New York to southwestern Connecticut in as much daylight as possible. School was nice, but getting a special pass out of it was nicer.

I can also remember specific things I used to look for on the drive down, like the animated lit-up sign of a horse and jockey that announced the presence of Monticello Raceway, or the town of Bedford, New York — a sleepy little place that was always long since comfortably asleep when we passed through.

My folks used to deputize me to look for a specific road — New York State Route 17K — on our way down, presumably to give my cooped-up energy something to focus on. (A couple of years ago, while traveling to and from the Albany area, I was pleased to notice 17K again.)

Sometimes, in those days before child seats and seatbelt laws, I would rest my elbows on the back of the front bench seat of our old Plymouth Satellite and just watch the highway traffic coming the other way. It seemed like a festival of lights, some sort of wild ever-shifting interstate art installation.

Less frequently, my grandparents and great-grandma made the trip the other way, coming up to Rochester to see us.

My grandpa didn’t have the luxury of lounging in the back seat. As the only licensed driver in his household, he had to make the entire haul while staying attentive behind the wheel.

He appears to have enjoyed the trip all the same:

Oct. 18 and 19, 1968.

I can’t take credit for his evident pleasure at going to Penfield. I hadn’t been born yet, and neither had my older brother. I guess his son and daughter-in-law were enough of a pleasure to elicit an outcry of delight on the calendar.

After we came along, he was still pretty jazzed to make the drive to WNY:

October 1974: “Penfield? Yes!”

October 11, 1974. A long day on the road does not dampen his enthusiasm.

May 23, 1975. “Yes!” circled *and* in red, this time.

Bonus shot from Penfield, May 1975, featuring three generations of the women of the Blumenau family. Not particularly connected to today’s narrative; I just thought I’d throw it in.

When you’re a kid, you never think much about your grandparents being happy to see you, because you’re always so happy to see them.

Sure, you notice that they smile, and ruffle your hair, and just happen to have cold Seven-Up in the fridge for you. But you never suspect, being young and sorta self-centered like kids usually are, that they’ve been counting the days until they see you, just as you’ve been counting them yourself. It’s a nice thing to realize, no matter how long it takes you to figure out.

My grandpa might have had some other reason for writing “Yes!” so exuberantly on his calendars. But, if so, I don’t care to know what they were.

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