Sunday, July 22, 2012

Four in a Two Door '48 Ford

>I was just thinking I need to tell my grandchildren about our trip out west
>in 1948 in a two door Ford named Daisy. This is Barbara, and comments from
my sister, RosalieAnn, are in Italics
She was Daisy Mae because that was L'il Abner's girl friend's name.
The 1940 black 2 door Ford also had a name, but I can't remember it
now.  We got the new car because we didn't think the old one was up to
the mountains.  To keep it from overheating going up the mountains, we
would release the hood latch and the hood would then be up a bit and
it would squeak in that position.

>I was 8 and in 4th grade, RA was
>10. We camped, and even with no tent we had so much gear that there was a
>tower of stuff in the back seat between my sister and me. Of course we were
>always arguing about who had less room. And we had stuff under our feet.
Mother said she did it that way so that we could not physically reach
each other.

>And no radio or other entertainment. And no air conditioner. Blistering hot
>through farm country.
>Even with no AC, there were the triangle shaped side windows that we could
>strategically position to have a breeze, and I think the back seat windows
>could open. When we came to a town, our first stop was the ice factory, to
>replenish our refrigerator and pass around good-sized cubes of ice which we
>placed (again strategically, this time with anatomical strategy) on our
>pulse points. I can still remember how the ice felt on the back of my
>knees, elbows, and on the back of my head.
>Though RYF used to decry all the AV available to children today, I reminded
>her that, before interstates, there was always something to look at or
>count. We had endless contests. Red barns. Cows. and of course colors of
>cars. We made up superstitions. See a white horse and you made a fist,
>licked it, kissed it, stamped it, and you would have good luck. All bridges
>required holding your breath (perhaps a holdover from the Billy Goats
>Gruff?) and of course, in the interests of George's swimming prowess, I re
>instituted that with our family.
And maps - how could you forget the maps.  Endless math problems
figuring out how far to the next town.

>My sister had the role of story teller. She spun endless yarns. The only
>one I remember was called "Rub Don't Blot," derived from a sign on the
>towel dispenser. I don't remember whether it was paper towels or one of
>those circular linen towels where you pulled to get a clean place for your
>own hands. (BTW when you drive so many miles, how the rest rooms are
>becomes a big part of your life. I am reminded of that when we travel by
>any form of transportation now.)
>The story: There were two children named Rub and Blot. One was good (Rub)
>and the other (Blot, of course) was always into mischief. I believe the
>gist of the story was that the mother was always saying "Good, Rub!  Don't
>do that, Blot!" And to be sure her children behaved, she went around
>writing it on walls everywhere, shortened for efficiency, as in "Rub, Don't
I remember doing that story but didn't remember the story itself.  I
do remember that I would ask you to give me three objects and I would
make a story up about them.   I know I did one about the Magic

>I don't remember reading a lot of books on this trip. I don't remember
>carrying a lot of books in the car -- we would not have had room. We must
>have had a couple. I do remember begging and pleading and finally being
>said yes to, to buy a couple of comic books. My mother did not approve of
>comic books, but we did have a few, worn thin with rereading. I can
>recreate Archie and Veronica in my mind. Also some Classic comics, like
>Tale of Two Cities, hard to understand.
I don't remember that.  I remember collecting milk bottle tops from
the different dairies and writing letters to Grandmummy about the trip
and naming our sleeping bags.  One was Deerfield and one was Ravena -
named for towns we passed through.

>We tented. In rainy weather we slept in the car. Every several days we
>would stay in a motel or, more likely, a tourist home. Motels weren't
>ubiquitous in those days. If in a motel or tourist home, my sister and I
>would sleep in one twin bed and my parents in the other. They did not seem
>to mind the crowding.Hmm.
Mother had made screens for the car windows so if was rainy or
particularly mosquitoy we slept in the car.

I don't remember twin beds in motels - I do remember one place in
Scotland where there were just three single beds and Mother and Daddy
shared.  We went to a motel to get a bath every few days.  And we
stayed in one tourist home in Silver Cliff where we had to go the gas
station to use the bathroom.

>If in the car, my father took out the cotter pins so the front seats would
>drop down. Being sure you did not lose the cotter pins was important. I
>don't think we did; maybe we had extras. My place, at age eight, was with
>my feet under the steering wheel and my body angled diagonally to the
>driver's side door. Everybody else fit in somewhere.
That wasn't the way it was.  Daddy being the tallest had his feet
under the steering wheel and his head toward the opposite corner.
Mother was next to him on the passenger side with her head in the back
corner.  I was next to him on the driver's side.  You were in the
corner next to mother on the passenger side.
>We always started out at the crack of dawn, or before dawn, to do as many
>miles as possible before the heat. I did not like those breakfasts, sitting
>on the fender, eating sloppy cold cereal out of the box. I was expected to
>be cheerful, but if I managed to be that, it was under duress.
I remember Daddy shaving using a mirror hooked to a tree branch.

>Lunches, however, were very satisfactory. We had a standard lunch. Mother
>loved milkshakes. We would find a Walgreens, and she would order thick
>chocolate milkshakes all round, and lecture the waitress on how we wanted
>them *very t*hick. The milkshakes would arrive so thick you couldn't pull
>them through a straw. Delight. They were always accompanied by packages of
>peanut butter crackers. Chocolate milkshakes and peanut butter crackers
>were the unvarying lunch fare, and always in an ice cold drugstore.

I did remember the milkshakes, but not the other things.

>After hitting the ice house again, we would be off for a couple hours of
>driving and then make camp. Remember, we didn't have a tent, but we each
>had a sleeping bag, an industrial strength Army surplus camouflage sleeping
>bag good for 30 degrees below and with a waterproof cover. We spread these
>out on a big canvas tarp, and we had pillows, and we tried to stay cool.
In the daytime when it was hot, we would strip down to shorts and a
T-shirt.  But it got cold at night so we would put on jeans and a
sweater and crawl into our bags.  One morning in the Grand Tetons we
woke up next to a snowbank.

We also stayed in a cabin at Yellowstone - they wouldn't let us camp
without a tent there because of the bears.  It was the 4th of July and
they let us have sparklers.

>We camped in farmyards and in parks; there were no real campgrounds then.
>The one place I remember camping was the Badlands of South Dakota. We had
>just been to visit the (what is the four faces on a mountain site?) and the
>badlands was quite deserted. No other people were around. Somebody -- I
>don't remember if it was my sister or my mother -- found a toad hopping
>across her face, screeched, and threw it into the bushes. Major excitement.
I don't remember the toad so it must have been mother.  I do remember
some people coming to the overlook above us about dawn and suddenly
seeing our sleeping bags below and hushing their voices.

>We had a small green gasoline stove (coleman), which I think we still had when we
>closed the house. My father was a good cook on that stove. And we had a set
>of nesting pots. I guess we had hamburgers and hot dogs, I don't remember,
>but I do remember his cooking some fish that we caught and famously
>teaching me that the fried fish eye was a delicacy. And of course I still
>like to scandalize diners today by crunching on those eyes. They aren't
>that bad but they do taste better fried.
>Mother made a point of taking us to see the capitals and RosalieAnn -- who
>did  way more traveling than our family did -- continued that tradition.
>Whatever there was to see, we stopped to see. And mother was an inveterate
>pointer outer of sights. She truly loved adventuring, and noticing, and
>learning about nature. We marveled at clear blue skies with rainbows, and
>sunrises, and sunsets. Every sunrise and sunset had to be photographed by
>Daddy. Every road side historic sign had to be stopped for and read. Every
>continental divide had to be honored with a photo of our beet planted, one
>on each side. Every mountain was anticipated, as we drew nearer and nearer
>but never seemed to get closer to the foot.
>The one fishing trip that I really do remember was with my cousins, Carol
>Lynn and Dorothea, who lived on their father's state game farm in Colorado.
I don't remember this as a fishing trip - just a camping trip.  And I
remember mother wanting to camp down by a stream and Daddy insisting
that we camp up on the bluff.  And in the morning there had been a
cloud burst upstream and the water was up to where we were.

>It was not a planned trip but happened for a sad reason. Shortly after we
>arrived at their farm (he was a game warden, and he took in the injured
>animals and the baby orphans) I met m father's mother (Bertha/Barbara) for
>the first time. Within the next couple of days she died. I'm not sure how
>that sequence worked, I'm not sure we knew she was sick. Anyway I was
>dramatically distraught, sleeping in a bed with my non-crying cousins (who
>actually knew her), Sarah Bernhardt sobbing her heart out. To get us all
>out of the house so preparations could be made, my parents took us and the
>cousins on a fishing trip for a couple of days. I don't think the youngest
>cousin, Beth, went with us. Carol Lynn was a little older than I and
>Dorothea is a little younger.

Beth wasn't toilet trained yet - but I remember Dorothea and Carol
Lynn ALSO crying.  And I remember mother telling me not to bother
Daddy because he would be sad because his mother had died.

>We have movies of us on the farm, having similar fun to George's family
>having fun on the Mallarnee farm, getting scolded for jumping on the
>haystacks, feeding baby deer with a bottle, running after the pheasants,
>such delight.
We were scolded for jumping and sliding on the feed bags because that
made the feed all dusty and crumbling.  We went out into the pheasant
pens in the morning to find their eggs which we would have for

>Then we turned around and drove home. It took the summer. I think we went
>out by the northern route (the Badlands) and home by the southern route
>(Carlsbad Caverns - we have movies of the bats leaving) and Tennessee (we
>spent some time in Oak Ridge, where I puzzles and puzzled over the comic
>book that was supposed to explain nuclear energy, but I still couldn't
>understand it.).

Was it there that we met Vandevar Bush?

> We were used to long hot hours of waiting for grownups
>from working in the un airconditioned mouse lab (that's another story) and
>waiting for our parents on the surface of the Pennsylvania coal mines
>(that's still another story). Maybe it helped us "build character."

We drove from St. Louis to home all in one day because Daddy had to be
back for something.  So Daddy would drive and I would read the map,
and you and mother would sleep, and then mother would drive and you
would read the map - we went for 24 hours that way.

>Often we whiled away the long hot hours by singing, any song that anybody
>could remember, often in animal voices. Using the Old MacDonald pattern, we
>sang each song in animal talk, especially Oh Susannah! and You Are My
>Sunshine. Usually we stopped singing when we got to a town, but we would
>squeal with delight when -- at an intersection -- my father would stun the
>passersby with his Woody Woodpecker laugh. This trip is what I think of
>when I hear those songs, those words, whether in human talk or pig oinks or
>horse neighs or cat meows or...

Great memories!

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