Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

Summer Picnics
by Nancy J. Cohen

In the summers when I grew up, we used to take driving trips. My mother would pack lunches for us to picnic at rest stops along the way. It was fun when I didn’t have to prepare the food. Now I’d rather eat in an air-conditioned restaurant than outside with the bees, flies and ants. But those rest areas were often lovely with shady trees, grassy hills and woodland streams.

We traveled west to Colorado to see relatives. We went north to explore Nova Scotia and Quebec. We visited the Catskills in New York and yes, we stayed at one of those all-inclusive resorts. Or we went to state parks where we could rent boats and enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch.

I don’t remember much about the food. Did my mother make sandwiches? Was roast chicken on the menu? I wish I could recall those memories but they’re gone with the wind. We did take driving trips with our own kids but I can’t remember what we brought along in the coolers for those occasions, either. Ditto for beach excursions.

Woman on picnic pouring juice for her child

Is your memory better than mine? Do you remember picnicking in your early days or with your children? Do you even enjoy outdoor picnics?

I love it when someone else prepares the food, especially if it’s grilled chicken, burgers or hot dogs. That’s why I look forward so much to the private island beach barbecues when we go on cruises. But I’d settle for fried chicken with potato salad and cole slaw or even pre-made sandwiches if you invite me for a picnic lunch.

What would be on your menu? Do you have a favorite picnic meal?


  1. maggietoussaint says

    We went to the beach or fishing/crabbing in a boat when I was a kid. We often didn’t take a cooler, so our food might be vienna sausages or pbj or maybe whatever ripe fruit was on our fruit trees. We always carried a gallon jug of water and some cups. If we were going with a group of people, we always brought a watermelon to float in the water with us, then that was our special treat. I think I can eat my weight in watermelon!

  2. dianestuckart says

    We didn’t do picnics (my parents were NOT outdoorsy people) but on car trips we’d pack meals since it was too expensive to feed a family of 7 on the road. Mostly PBJ or ugh, baloney or UGH, liverwurst. I can remembers stopping to eat at roadside picnic benches or even once at a closed drive-in movie. 🙂

    • Liverwurst? Ugh is right. Who would give that to children? PBJ and baloney, yes. And 7 kids? Wow. Your mom must have spent a lot of time in the kitchen.

  3. Really can’t contribute anything to this discussion. My parents never took us on any day trips or vacations.

    • How about now or with your kids?

      • Definitely! We took lots of vacations and day trips with the kids and now take the grandkids on both day trips and longer trips. Favorite places are Disneyworld, Disneyland, LEGOland, Washington DC, and all the train-themed places around Amish country in PA. Most of the time we’d just pack snacks, though, and splurge for restaurants for meals.

  4. Mom packed egg salad sandwiches as her staple for beach trips. Much later, her standard for weekends at the lake was taco salad.

  5. cherylhollon says

    I remember fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and cherry koolaid to drink. Lots of car trips when I was a kid and lots of them when the kids were young and we were broke.

  6. No special menu — but if we took sandwiches, everyone wanted one before we got out of the driveway.