… which looked like this, and drove – slowly – to Florida, camping all the way.

This trip accomplished two things dear to my father – it saved money on hotels and food (he was cheap), and it got him and his little Jewish tribe away from the madness of the Christmas season.

UD has grown up to detest camping, so I’m thinking I didn’t have the greatest time during all of this.

My one clear memory is being marooned in some state park that smelled of sulfur, and trembling in my half-dome tent as something close to a hurricane whipped the guy lines.

But it wasn’t all a nightmare. The one thing my father threw in to thrill the kids, to make it all worthwhile, to delight and amaze us totally, was South of the Border.


South of the Border! We were allowed to stay one night at this immense garish wonderland that announced itself miles and miles in advance, in the form of billboards with hilarious messages on them. I don’t remember any of the messages, only that everyone in the car (father, mother, four kids) read them aloud (there were tons of them) and screamed with laughter.

The article UD just stumbled on, which informs her that – incredibly – South of the Border is still open, quotes one of these billboards:

Ees onlee wan South of the Border, Amigos

The article wrestles with the staggering political incorrectness of the place, entirely constructed as it was around the image of a fat lazy Mexican named Pedro. They dumped some of the most offensive billboards (like Ees onlee…), but have retained (according to the article) the basic fat lazy Mexican motif.

The article invokes the word kitsch, and indeed South of the Border must have been wee UD‘s first serious encounter with the phenomenon. Whenever she talks about kitsch in her course on beauty, visions of South of the Border dance in her head.

UD‘s not sure why she’s so happy to read that tacky campy South of the Border continues to thrive.

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3 Responses to “Every December, when UD was a kid, her family piled into its Volkswagen Camper…”

  1. Bernard Carroll Says:

    For kids of a certain age, it’s delightful. I speak from experience with my own kids. Innocently enjoyable without a trace of racism.

  2. TAFKAU Says:

    My family used to drive across country every year or two during the summer (lived on one coast, relatives on the other). I used to love reading the signs for places like SOTB, but my father would never take us to “tourist traps”. So I went to SOTB myself about 10 years ago. My conclusion: I would have loved it as a kid. (For those who don’t know, the gag is that it sits directly on the south side of the North Carolina-South Carolina border.)

    Now I’ve got to get out to Tucson to see The Thing.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    TAFKAU: Thanks for mentioning the origin of the SOTB name – I forgot to put that in the post.

    Just checked out the Wikipedia page for The Thing. LOL.

    Creepier, and authentic, would be the fetuses at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

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