“Over the River and Through the Woods…”

By Suzy Beal

Grandma and Grandpa’s house

We headed for Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Forest Grove. As a kid stuffed in the family station wagon with six other siblings and my parents, it was a long, boring ride. It took three hours to get there from Newport. As we approached Grand Round, at the half-way point, we designated one of us to holler out “I need to go pee.” The Ground Round restaurant had the best pies in the world, but not better than Mom’s. They put three inches of meringue on the lemon and banana cream and a huge scoop of ice cream on the cherry and berry pies. We kids knew if we convinced Dad to stop for a pee, we might get to have a piece of pie.

It worked! And in we went. Mom loved to stop here too. I think she liked to eat a piece of pie she hadn’t baked. The lemon pie with meringue floated on my tongue. It slid around waiting to be swallowed. I put off the swallowing as long as possible. The soft, sweet cloud of meringue filled my mouth to the roof nearly, blocking off my throat. It was like having my mouth full of warm marshmallows. Great, Mom ordered coffee with her pie; this meant we didn’t have to rush. Before going back to the car, we paraded to the bathroom.

Full of pie and with our sweet tooth satisfied, we headed for Grandma’s house. Somewhere between Grand Round and Forest Grove boredom set in, but someone shouted, “Burma Shave on the right.”


“A Monkey took

One look at Jim

And threw the peanuts

Back at him

He needed

Burma Shave”


Our interest piqued, we waited for the next slogan to pass. We remembered there were several along this stretch of the highway. Mom said, “I wish they displayed what crops were growing along the highway by putting up signs like these.” We weren’t interested in the crops; we were ready for the next Burma Shave posting.


“Slow down, Pa

Sakes alive

Ma missed signs


And Five

Burma Shave”


“To change that

Shaving job

To joy

You gotta use

The real McCoy

Burma Shave”


The best part of arriving at Grandma’s house was the cookie drawer. She baked cookies for us and put them in the bottom drawer of a kitchen cabinet where we could reach them. We charged into the kitchen and raided her drawer while Mom shouted, “Only two apiece until after dinner and be sure to thank Grandma.” 

“Thank you, Grandma,” we mumbled with our mouths full.

Next, we headed for the huge box of blocks Grandpa always had hidden in the hall closet. It took three of us to haul it out and dump it on the living room floor. We built castles, villages, and skyscrapers until someone’s building fell on someone else’s project. Then pandemonium broke out. Grandpa put a stop to the noise and sent us outside to play.

Grandma and Grandpa

As we approached Grand Round on the way home, my siblings volunteered me.

“Dad, I have to go pee.”

2© 020 Suzy Beal

Writer and budding poet Suzy Beal spent twenty-five years helping seniors put their stories to paper and this year just finished her own memoir. Suzy’s work has appeared on truestorieswelltold.com, including a serialized portion of her travel memoir. She writes personal essays and is currently studying poetry.  Her work has appeared on Story Circle Network, 101words, Central Oregon Writer’s Guild, and recently an essay in  Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon. She lives and writes from Bend, Oregon.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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4 Responses to “Over the River and Through the Woods…”

  1. SoyBend says:

    I remember those signs along the side of the road for various products. They kept our attention–for a while. Your description of lemon meringue pie made me have a craving for a piece right now!


  2. Suzy Beal says:

    Thank you, SoyBend. Me too, on the lemon meringue pie, but with my stove out for the holidays I just have to dream.


  3. Veena S. says:

    hahaha…children all over indulge in similar ”pee” or washroom time out sessions. I’m a retd. school teacher and know these pranks well. Lovely story of the yummy pies and meringue:)


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