I have just finished devouring the April 2000 travel issue, and I want to thank you for the story on the Rock City barns, which brought to mind a treasured memory. You see, I grew up in the hamlet of Flintstone, Georgia, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, directly below Rock City. In 1952, when I was six years old, my father was building an addition to our house to accommodate his growing family, so money was in short supply. We could not afford a week’s stay in Florida, or anywhere else, for that matter. It looked like no vacation that year.
My parents came up with the idea of a speedy vacation to see all the tourist sights Chattanooga had to offer in a one-day grand tour. We descended into Ruby Falls Caverns; rode the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain; walked to Point Park, site of those famous Civil War pictures overlooking Chattanooga and the Tennessee River; and last and best of all, we toured Rock City. All these attractions were within five miles of our home but were as exotic to us as the Grand Canyon or the Alps. I remember the pride I felt in coming back down Lookout Mountain in our ’47 Chevrolet with the “Ruby Falls” and “See Rock City” bumper signs (precursors of the bumper sticker) firmly attached to our car with heavy metal straps. It was a glorious day of sightseeing that easily equals the thrill that present-day generations get from Disney World. At that time Rock City was Disney World. My souvenirs—a Viewmaster with 3-D color slides of the places we visited and a genuine quartz crystal from Rock City—occupied prominent places in my room for the remainder of my growing-up years.
I’ve since had the privilege of visiting many wonderful parts of the world, but no vacation will ever take the place of that glorious day when we became tourists in our own town and my parents took a lemon of a situation and made lemonade for two lucky kids.