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The Short Story That Started It All

If Dad hadn’t shot Walt Disney in the leg, it would have been our best vacation ever!

In 1979, National Lampoon magazine printed a short story called “Vacation ’58” by John Hughes. He wrote it while snowed in by a blizzard in Chicago. The story is told from the point of view of the Griswold son, as it was based on a real vacation trip Hughes had taken with his family when he was a child. The trip starts off badly and becomes worse.

Mom pleaded with Dad to stop at a motel when we got to Springfield, Illinois. Several times he crossed completely over the median lines and drove in the opposite lane. Once, while going through a little town, Dad drove up on the sidewalk and ran over a bike and some toys. Mom accused him of being asleep at the wheel, but he said he was just unfamiliar with Illinois traffic signs.

He took off his shoes, rolled down the window, turned the radio way up, and made us all sing the Michigan State fight song. But after a few minutes we were all sound asleep, our new station wagon racing down U.S. 55 like a bedroom on wheels. I don’t know how far we traveled like that. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic at that hour so we didn’t hit anything. We finally woke up when Missy asked Dad to get her a drink of water and Dad said, “Go ask Mommy, Daddy’s sleeping.” I heard that and so did Mom, and she screamed and Dad slammed on the brakes, and the luggage tumbled forward onto the back seat and Dad’s golf clubs scattered all over the highway.  

“Vacation ’58” was Hughes’ big break, and led to him writing the screenplay for National Lampooon’s Vacation. He would later go on to write, produce, and/or direct movies such as Home Alone, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. You can read the entire story “Vacation ’58” at The Hollywood Reporter. -via Digg

(Image credit: National Lampoon Inc.)

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