Creativity Storytelling

Rest Stop, Mile Marker 173


The Garden State Parkway Rest Stop was half-way to my grandmother’s. We’d pull off the exit and shuffle into the rose-colored stalls of the Ladies Room.

Inside, near the pink-vinyl couch, a pull-knob vending machine sold hairnets, bobby pins, and rainhats neatly folded into pastel plastic boxes.

The Rest Stop burned down in ’91, years after we’d stop traveling as a family. But in my mind, it’s all still there — the soft golden light and tiled floors, the vending machine, my sister sleeping, Dad singing I Got You Babe to Mom in the front seat, his hand on her knee.


©2022, Jen Payne.

6 replies on “Rest Stop, Mile Marker 173”

Thank you! When I started writing that, all sorts of memories came flooding in. If you Google the GSP there are plenty of older and nostalgic photos, too.

Most of my traveling today is either GSP or roads out to Long Island, but as a kid, it was mostly the Thruway to upstate NY to my Uncle’s in Galway. And I agree regarding the memory flood – I’ve been experiencing those more than ever lately, totally unsolicited and random memories returning. While there is still much joy today with all the new “family” one acquires along the way, there was a certain charm about those days of one’s youth that is irreplaceable.

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