Although the interstate highways have taken many of the tacky tourist stops off the map, there are still a few to be found where you can browse, peruse and have fun.
But it's nothing like in years past when a trip out of town would be a magical experience. From reading the Burma Shave signs, to looking at the countdown billboards on the highway to "Jim's Alligator Farm and Tourist Shoppe", every mile was a delight for the kids. Every 1000 feet another sign would proclaim how close you were and be sure not to miss the thrill of your life and the exciting souvenirs. If nothing else, they would woo you in with their promise of refrigerated air! The birth of popular collecting as we know it today probably started back in the fifties. Mom would buy a set of salt and pepper shakers from every state the family traveled through. There would be oranges or alligator sets from Florida, a cactus set from Texas, Indians from Arizona to a potato set from Idaho.
If Dad wanted something, he could always pick up a shot glass or ashtray from each state and tourist attraction to display in the basement rec room.
After driving off Mom would remember one more person they should have sent a postcard to from the last tourist shop.
She would also remember who would have been the perfect recipient of that linen dish towel with the state outline, bird, flower and current calendar on it. (In full color, of course!)
Some folks would make it a mission to buy a window decal for the back of the wagon from each state. Or they would collect the State plates and line them up on their kitchen cabinets, proudly proclaiming the many trips and locations the family had visited. Again, the goal would be to have a complete set of all the states or as many as possible.
Spoons were another popular collectible, (Singer Meat Loaf collects them!) as well as thimbles from different states, and the cheapest of all souvenirs --the matchbook.
Kids would want something too, and what better to while away the time in the back seat than shaking and re-shaking those little plastic snow domes. So what if it didn't snow on the cactus in the desert, they were still cool looking even if they weren't meteorologically correct.
Next Page -- More about Snow Domes