Book Review: Don’t Make Me Pull Over! An Informal History Of The Family Road Trip


Ford Squire station wagon

Don’t Make Me Pull Over! – An Informal History of the Family Road Trip

As RVers, road trips are in our blood. There are dozens of reasons folks turn to RVing as a way to live, getaway, or simply take a vacation. At the core of many of those decisions is the connection that RVing provides with our own youthful past, the family road trip.

Though not a book about RVing, today’s RVers are the prime audience to appreciate Richard Ratay’s book, Don’t Make Me Pull Over! – An Informal History of the Family Road Trip.

A drive down memory lane

In this book, Mr. Ratay shares his thoughts on those childhood family vacations of years past. His memories will mirror those of many of today’s current crop of RVers. Equally as interesting is the historical journey Ratay takes us on. These poignant nuggets of history are rooted in the road travel we experienced as children of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and currently enjoy as adult RVers.

In a humorous style befitting any Jean Shepard fan, Ratay seamlessly transitions between personal memories and interesting historical information. Many of us remember those early morning vacation departures in the back of the family station wagon.

Ratay reminds of those and delves into the origin and history of those station wagons. You’ll laugh at Ratay’s personal recollections while simultaneously learning about the modern freeway, the birth of the roadside motels, the fast-food drive-thru, and even the automotive safety of the day, or lack thereof.

Making history fun again

From Chapter 6, Time to Pass, Richard Ratay shares a bit about nearly running out of gas and the demise of the famed Stuckey’s restaurant chain:

“It didn’t help that we drove gas-guzzling land yachts that averaged ten miles per gallon even before being loaded with six people and a mountain of luggage. At the rate our car burned gas, we went through a half tank before we made it from the pump to the on-ramp. But another factor was the swift demise of a once popular chain named Stuckey’s.

One of the greatest success stories of the American highway boom, Stuckey’s began as a single wooden stand located along US Route 23 near Eastman, Georgia, in the early 1930’s”

A Ford Country Squire station wagon could have been used for the Family Road Trip
This 1978 Ford Country Squire made for great family road trips – Photo: Autocar

A nostalgic journey

Richard shares his stories of trips to Disney, the CB craze, and the glory of the hotel video arcade.

If you were a kid of any age in the 1970s and took even one road trip with your family, this book is a must-read and provides a nostalgic journey that may very well have been the beginning of your RV yearnings. For me personally, so much of Richard’s story hit so close to home I began to feel as if perhaps I had a long lost brother I had forgotten about. 

Charming and enjoyable


Don’t Make Me Pull Over is charming, clever, interesting, and just downright enjoyable. At a time when the phrase OK Boomer is viewed as derogatory, I’ll happily accept that label as it puts me right in the wheelhouse to enjoy this book to its fullest. Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard Ratay is available on Amazon.com.

Patrick Buchanan

All around RV enthusiast who enjoys trips with his wife and little dogs in their 43-foot diesel pusher.

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