There’s really nothing new about this ‘gramping’ phenomena

Generational-skipping vacations aren’t new, at least not in my family

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I couldn't find a photo of my Grandmother's 1957 Ford sedan, but I did stumble across the photo of my grandparents and a car I presume they owned | Edsall and Acord family archives

There’s camping, traditionally done in a tent or perhaps in a pop-up trailer, or even in a fancy and exotically outfitted motorhome. And then along came glamping, a form of camping involving glamorous accommodations, whether it be in a safari-style tent or a luxuriously restored vintage camping trailer. 

And now, The New York Times reports that there’s another “-ping” travel experience — “gramping.”

“Gramping, as the practice is known,” the newspaper reports, “allows grandparents and grandchildren to overcome distance and busy scheduled and grow closer through traveling. But planning a trip spanning a six- or seven-decade age gap is bound to come with a unique set of challenges, like divergent interests, energy levels, physical abilities, technology dependence and attention spans.”

Turns out, to help overcome such obstacles, hotels and resorts are creating packages that might appeal to those age 8 as well as age 80. 

One of my granddaughters on our road trip that included a stop at Cadillac Ranch | Larry Edsall photo

Whoa! Wait a minute! This “gramping” is not any sort of new phenomenon, at least not in my family. I’ve taken at least three of my grandchildren on road trips, and then there was the time when I was 16 years old and I had a driver’s license but no car to drive except for my parents’ pale yellow, 3-row Chevrolet station wagon when Mom or Dad wasn’t using it.

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Ah, but my Grandmother had a car, a 1957 Ford sedan, V8 engine and 3-on-the-tree manual transmission. 

My parents, little brother and I lived out in the country, surrounded by corn fields. My Grandmother lived in town, and just a block from the high school I attended. 

My Grandfather died when I was in 8th grade, and I had pretty much moved into Grandma’s second bedroom for my first two years of high school, saving me the long bus rides to and from classes, allowing me to participate in extra-curricular activities, and at the same time helping her with yard work while at the same time getting me away from my parents and pesky little brother. I considered it a real win-win situation, although we all still missed my Grandfather.

Anyway, I get my license and had been covering enough high school sports for the local newspaper that I had some money, so I called some family friends who had a cottage on a lake in Indiana and I rented the place for a week.

The cottage was about a 2½-hour drive from home. I invited my Grandmother (and her car) to come along for the week. Good son that I was, I even invited my parents and pesky little brother to join us over the weekend. 

It was a great week! I fished in the morning, and Grandma would cook breakfast — and she even cleaned whatever fish I’d caught. In the afternoon we’d do something she enjoyed, shopping in one of the towns near the lake, going for a boat ride, whatever. In the late afternoon, I’d do some more fishing. 

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Grandma would cook dinner (oh, how I wish we had her peach cobbler recipe), and we’d talk or play a game or maybe even watch the fuzzy images on the cottage’s small black-and-white television.

Grandma liked to go, and I liked to drive. Sometimes we’d drive up to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to eat and to watch the fascinating parade of people arriving on flights from overseas. Sometimes we’d just go for a ride through the countryside.

I remember one occasion when she’d driven out to our house. She was on her way to a shopping center in another town and I offered to drive her there. I loved driving her Ford, and as I got to the first intersection of our gravel road and the one, also a gravel road, that would lead toward town I dropped down to second gear, threw the back of the car out to the right and powerslid through the turn. 

As the car straightened out and I shifted into third, I remembered my Grandmother was sitting there and I feared she’d tell my folks about the turn and I’d be in trouble.

So, how cool was my Grandmother?

“Can you teach me to do that?” she asked.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. What great memories, Larry. I agree that gramping has probably been around longer then just the current decade or more. My own grandpa set the stage for my car mania when he was willing to field my unending questions about everything mechanical and letting me visit the body shop where he did magical things with a hammer and dolly. Now I’m one of those grandpas with curious grandkids wondering about all those tools and that big orange engine sitting in the garage. I’m fired up to do a bit of gramping! Great story!

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