Category Archives: The Family Vacation in 1970 in My Mother’s Words

Now For The Sad, Weird, Surprise at The End of the Vacation of 1970 19

English: Evan E. Worthing High School Español:...
English: Evan E. Worthing High School Español: Escuela Secundaria Evan E. Worthing Tiếng Việt: Trung Học Evan E. Worthing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I promised at surprise ending for the summer vacation of 1970. It isn’t in my mother’s journal because I never found anything she’d written about the period after that vacation.

We arrived home at about 7 PM. A neighbor ran out of her house and across her yard to meet our car in the driveway. She was my age and excited in the way people are when delivering disastrous news. She asked if we knew what had happened while we were gone. The answer of course was ‘no’ because we didn’t have much opportunity to listen to the television and the radio in the car didn’t work well.

“Well,” she said. “They re-zoned our neighborhood. The kids in this neighborhood are being bussed to Worthing High School.”

My father said, “That’s not possible.”

She said, “They did it without warning. All the parents are angry. There have been protests down at the HISD administration building.”

Her tone was factual but I could tell by the look in her eye this was SOME news. Though I wasn’t catching on. I still had no idea why she seemed so concerned that we know this now. School was a few days away. We had had to go to Madison High School when we were in the seventh grade for one semester because the new Dick Dowling Junior High needed finishing. Going to High School at twelve years old was a little intimidating. At fifteen I felt fairly invincible. I said, “So what’s the big deal about Worthing?

She looked at me as if I had two noses. “It’s an all black school. There aren’t even enough white kids in this neighborhood to make a dent in the ratio.”

Turns out that she and her sisters had already applied and been accepted in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) program at Madison High (the school closest to us). In fact, at the time she was telling us the news that program had been maxed out. There were no other exemptions for getting out of being force-bussed to Worthing High School.

Yes, everything changed for me that year. It was my “inciting” moment.

And so here it is forty years later and from what I see – there is little or no change in our country with attitudes about color. This is ridiculous. When there are much more serious things taking place, freedoms at stake, we still blather about race.

I have something to say.

I’m writing a novel about my experience. But it won’t be about me.


Time enough has passed for me to be able to step back and tell a story. A story about race that I hope is as colorblind as going to that school made me.

Back To The Ol’ Texas Homestead At Last! 18

Six Flags over Texas
Six Flags over Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From My Mother’s Journal 1970:


Monday August 24


Finally got a good night’s sleep. We have officially been on the road nine weeks. After breakfast drove and drove and drove around Dallas to get to 6 Flags Over Texas. $24 cash to get in.


The Chevy Show was misnamed. I thought it would be about cars but instead you sit in a seat and the screen in front of you showed a front view from a helicopter, fast cars, boats, planes, and a snowmobile as if you were a passenger in these. It almost made me seasick.


The run-away mine train was an honest to goodness roller-coaster, which Jon, Becky and R enjoyed. Jeff and I went on the “Mine-Train”, a bit tamer ride.


We had thought that 6 Flags Over Texas would be a lot bigger than AstroWorld, but it isn’t true. Besides, AstroWorld is constantly adding on new rides and growing bigger.

English: Texas Cyclone at Sunset. Taken 1 day ...
English: Texas Cyclone at Sunset. Taken 1 day before the closing of Astroworld forever. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We did notice that 6-Flags was very clean and appreciated the nicely cooled bathrooms. I guess my favorite ride was the spelunkers’ Cave with its splashes of cool spray.

The kids liked the Spindletop.


With meals, snacks, parking and entrance fee the day costs us over $40. I can’t imagine what a larger family would cost. That was for four people and a child.


We spent Sunday and Monday night at the Holiday Inn. R remarked that for 2 nights, 2 breakfasts, and 1 supper, it cost about $22.00 a day less than the Holiday Inn in Chicago.


Tuesday August 25


We heard on the news last night that Houston ranks #6 in nation for population and Dallas was #8. I’ve been thinking about the kids going to school next Monday August 31st. We’ll have Jeff in Elementary School, Jon in Jr. High, Becky in High School, and Bobby in college.


On Highway 75 going towards Houston I’ve noticed how dry and brown the grass is along the roadway. A big truck was spraying water on the trees in the median – I guess trying to keep them alive. The stretch of road between Streetman and Buffalo was not highway and seemed very dangerous – with cars passing too fast or cars moving too slow, dangerous driving. There were signs that said “Daylight Test Area – Turn On Headlights” on this stretch. We stopped at one Nickerson Farms that had a sign that said “Shirts and shoes required inside”, so I guess they’d had some problems.


It has been our experience on this trip that some places should have a sign that reads “only those who bathe daily and use deodorant will be admitted.”


Stopped at Huntsville State Park for 1 hour between 4 & 5 PM. It is not crowded today. Apparently there have been two days of rain here added to the fact that all school districts except Houston Independent School District began yesterday. The park was great, not too hot. Jon and Jeff went fishing but didn’t catch anything. It made a nice break to rest even if it cost $1.00 just to get in. I approve of this entry fee as it does eliminate some undesirables (those who would trash up the park and not bathe).


We would have used our camper exclusively if 1) all parks had clean, working showers, and flush toilets. And plenty of them. It is ridiculous to find one shower for women and one shower for men in a camper ground that is housing three-hundred campers. And wouldn’t it be nice if those showers had hot water as advertised and not SUN-WARMED water available at 3 in the afternoon only. WHY do females throw their personal sanitation wear in the toilet and block up the sewer system for an entire campground?


We would have used our camper exclusively if 2) the camp ground guide-book had been more explicit as in if there are TWO campgrounds with the SAME name within a few miles of each other this was made known so there would be no confusion.


We would have used our camper exclusively if 3) our tent had been more waterproof.


We would have used our camper exclusively if 4) we hadn’t been so crowded. As the kids have gotten bigger so there just wasn’t enough room. Even though our camper sleeps six, it was elbow-to-elbow all the time. Cramped space makes for gripes and complaints from everyone.


One thing that we noticed, during this camping season, was that common courtesy and decency were sadly lacking. What happened to “regard for others?” The experience was so unlike past years. Why was this year so different? True, there were a few friendly campers, but as a whole those were the exception rather than the rule. This was strange. We all noticed it.


As we get closer to Houston the grass is greener along the road. We just entered Harris County at 5:40 PM. Mileage 59,569 Gas here is 31 cents a gallon. Good to be home!


Noticed a sign in Houston “Time ripens all things, no man is born wise”. In other words like the Pennsylvania Dutch saying “Too soon old – Too late smart”.

They say things in a different way up north, they drive faster and with less regard for other drivers, they act abruptly toward each other and strangers, but we found the exceptions to those generalities, too. We aren’t that much different, them and us.


Winding It Down 17

English: Country Club Plaza (view from 47th St...
English: Country Club Plaza (view from 47th Street at Wornall Road), Kansas City, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From My Mother’s Journal 1970:

Monday August 17

Stopped at a Ramada Inn for lunch($8.91). They are consistently good.

On to sister Betty’s in Hickman Mills, Kansas City, Missouri. Got there in the late afternoon. Ate supper with Betty and went with them to pick up their grandsons. We took them to the airport and while we were there fire engines and police cars rolled up. A big jet was having trouble with its landing gear, so everyone was on emergency. What a lot of excitement. We watched as the big jet came in and the pilot set it down as if there were eggs on the pavement. The landing gear was down and it held so everything was okay after all. Then we drove around to all the houses in Kansas City, MO where John and Betty lived at one time or another. I remembered many of them from previous visits. The Country Club Plaza is still a beautiful place – the buildings and plazas and fountains patterned after  Seville, Spain.

Saw a few dirty hippies but not enough to ruin the scenery.

Miniature Golf ($1.50) Stuckey’s gifts and candy ($9.30), gas $3.60), coffee (.15).

Took the little ones back to their father. He is recuperating from being hit over the head in his front yard two weeks ago by two colored men. The cut on his scalp required 52 stitches. He has purchased a German Shepherd guard dog for any future encounters.

We parked the camper in Betty’s driveway and set up.

Tuesday August 18

R worked on the car all day because it is getting such poor gas mileage. Car parts ($16.00) Repaid Jon cash ($5.00)

Wednesday August 19

Same thing. Wednesday night went and got the little ones and took them to Jacamo Lake. Jon and Jeff fished. It was a pleasant place with a new campground up on a hill. Took the little ones back home and drove back. The light of Kansas City are still beautiful at night.

Thursday August 20

Woke up to rain but it is nice and cool. Groceries ($6.49) Film ($4.92) Went to Nelson Gallery of Art($1.25) and spent four hours. Got some prints and books on design($12.85). The Gallery has beautiful Chinese and Japanese vases and things. I remembered the painting with the water droplets on the leaves of a plant – they look so real you want to reach out and brush them off. That painting is still there.

Uncle John
Friday August 21

mileage 58,639

Left Kansas City and Betty and John’s house around 2 P.M. Jeff especially wanted to stay longer. Betty had given us a really restful time. The dinner Thursday night with shish-kabob and fancy dessert made by Margaret was wonderful. Robbie and I stayed up until 2 A.M. this morning talking to Betty and John.

Jon enjoyed his Aunt Betty’s because he got a chance to run a riding lawnmower all over the place. Becky and Jeff enjoyed their three motherless kittens. R and I really rested and the talk with Betty and John was especially appreciated. We need someone to talk to more often.

R just reminded me that I owe Betty a dollar for a phone call I made from her house.

Went to a K-Mart for oil and a lamp bulb for the car ($2.91) Kansas Turnpike 5:25 PM $2.90 toll to Wichita.

Ramada Inn because the rain is coming down in sheets.

Saturday August 22

Overnight charge, delicious seafood supper and breakfast ($43.31) Last night Jeff ate his seafood at 7:30 PM began vomiting at 10:30 and didn’t stop – five times – until 12:30. It made us all a little queasy but no one else got the food poisoning that he did.

Saturday morning we got up late about 10:30 and ate breakfast at 11. Jeff stayed in the room and drank a coke. Robbie and I had a very lumpy mattress. It was the worst on the entire trip. We are both hurting this morning. They didn’t seem concerned when he told them at the front desk. They said they’d check the seafood. We will take note and never use this one again.

The Kansas toll roads cost us $4.35 for about 125 miles which is pretty expensive. Entered Oklahoma at 1:30 P.M. It hasn’t rained here yet but was all through Kansas it was very rainy and the roads were awful slick.

Arrived in Ponca City, OK at 2:30 and ate a hamburger and checked into Quo Vadis Motel – very firm mattresses.

Betty and Hudson Smith and their girls came to visit. They brought coffee and cake. The kids went swimming at the motel pool.

Ate a late supper (9PM)

Sunday August 23

Up at 8 AM. Betty and Hudson and girls came to join us for breakfast this morning. (motel, supper and breakfast $37.96)

We realized while on the road again that Betty and Hudson left us $5.00 for breakfast. We didn’t see it until they had gone. (MUST remember to write them.) They brought us a tape of a gospel message from Miles VanDerkroll. This was excellent to listen to in the car. There was no gospel hall here in Ponca City. Three families meet in a home. Two of the families were on vacation this Sunday.

Left at 12:30 for Texas. Mileage 58,984 charged 14.7 gallons at 41 cents a gallon. Perry, OK at 1:30. Ate a steak lunch in Norman, OK. ($16.05 with a dollar tip) The traffic between Norman and Davis is horrible with the road torn up and being repaired. The new 35 through the Davis Mountains is extremely pleasant. The highway engineers cut through a lot of solid red rock to make the road. Mileage at Marietta, OK 59,168

Entered Texas after almost 9 weeks on the road, at 6:15 PM Sunday August 23. Souvenirs, stickers, drinks at Stuckey’s ($3.45) Toll road between OK and Dallas ($.30)

Stopped at Holiday Inn NW in Dallas at 7:30 PM and ate supper at El Chico.

Rebecca and her mother, Mary Louise



Night by Mary Louise Thompson

I see through gossamer folds of mist

the Moon pauses above the lake.

Elm leaves wave dark patterns between the moon and I

almost like a tickle at about my ribs. I smile.

A firefly twinkled among lake shore grasses.

The frogs take their choir turns while

a distant cow bell charms.

Crossed elm branches set to groaning so

the dog growls in his sleep on the step.

I close the door on that kind of peace

And call it a day.

My Mother’s Waterloo 16

From My Mother’s Journal 1970:

My mother (on right) and her sister Kay
Saturday August 8

We arrived in Waterloo, Iowa by the afternoon and went to a Howard Johnson’s Motel to rest and get cleaned up. The kids loved the indoor heated pool. I called sister and she said she’d see us at Meeting tomorrow morning. I don’t know why Kay doesn’t want us to come over tonight. She knew we were coming, I called from Chicago.

Sunday August 9

After the meeting at Downing Street Chapel (Plymouth Brethren church) we went out to eat with Ann and Al Nesbit. Then we went to Kay’s. We put the camper in her back yard. The apple trees are loaded with apples. Went to the night meeting. The kids love to see the ponies. Kay was fussing about the ponies getting in the yard and eating the apples. Too many will make them founder. (Get really sick)

Monday, August 10

This morning we first went to visit my mother in the nursing home. I don’t really like the place but as mother is unable to walk at all now, there is not much choice. Dad takes good care of her.

The Lockard’s invited us for supper. They had a big corn roast in their yard beside the river. They dig a big pit and put the fresh ears of corn in and it slow roast all day. By evening (they had invited several families) everyone gathered with their pot luck dishes to go with the corn and burgers. What a wonderful time, seeing a lot of old friends I’ve known since childhood. The kids were invited by some friends nearby for tomorrow.

August 11

Jeff was not invited with Jon and Becky. Apparently they were going out on a boat and to swim and ski on the river.

Wednesday August 12

Went to visit an old school friend who has a store and spent a few minutes reminiscing about old school friends.

In the afternoon we visited the nursing home where my mother is again. Dad visits her Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week and makes sure she has clean clothes. She is very weak and doesn’t remember the kids’ names. 

Thursday August 13

We got up early and went out to visit the Lynchs on their pig farm, not far from Waterloo. It was mid-day for them as they get up before dawn to milk the cow and make sure all the livestock has food. The kids had a grand time jumping into the grain stored in the silo. They climbed to the top and jumped from the rafters. They had a new batch of baby pigs and it was hard to part the kids from the pigs. We made it back to Kay’s just in time to go out and eat with Kay’s in-laws.

The Lynch Family
Friday August 14

We packed up and went to see my father, he is looking well, though tired. We went back to Kay’s to eat lunch and help her husk corn, then went by to see Mother again and bid Dad goodbye.

Left Waterloo at 3:30. Mileage 58,176 filled tank with 17.13 gallons

Drove down to Gladbrook, Iowa to see the Lynchs again. Their two big dogs ran to greet us like we were old friends. The kids enjoyed the day yesterday. Today, they sent their son with us to lead the way to the Pine Lakes Park ($3.50) Ice (.75) groceries ($15.00)

We were able to park on a hill overlooking two lakes. We started a campfire and put the coffee on. The Lynchs joined us. They brought hotdogs and some hamburger meat to grill. It was great. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows. The moon hung over the lake like a painting.

Saturday August 15

We got up with sun but the sky soon clouded over. The Lynchs came and again brought some good breakfast meats and some ice-cold milk. After dishes we watched the kids work a paddle boat out on the lake. Then we took them swimming. By this time it was 1:30 and we hadn’t made up out mind if we should pull up and move to a park closer to a meeting hall or stay put. R voted to stay. So we went to town and got a small roast to barbecue, and some ice. After getting the grill started, the rain began. We moved the grill under the tarp and endured the smoky tent while we waited for it to heat up. It was touch-n-go avoiding the rain and getting the cooking done.

After supper the rain seemed to worsen so we packed up and left, rather than go through another night of leaking canvas and soaked bedding.

We made it to Des Moines (used 17 gallons of gas) and stopped at a small motel(Beacon $18.54) just finishing up a fire-remodeling. However, new paint and carpet did nothing to remedy the smell of scorched furniture.

Sunday August 16

We survived the night of heavy smoke smell and went to Ramada Inn the next morning for breakfast ($9.18). We went on to the Central Gospel Chapel (Des Moines) and met many people. They showed us what their Daily Vacation Bible School children had been doing and there some pretty handicraft projects. A couple from the church took us out for lunch. Noticed that the large department stores are open. This is unusual as it is Sunday.

We drove on, using our maps and signs for Nine Eagles State Park and got there about 3:40. Despite all the signs leading to it, when we pulled up the sign on the gate said “closed”. A guy came out of a guard-house and said it had been closed all summer but was opening up again next week. This was really aggravating as there was no other sign leading to the park to say “closed”. We needed to air out the wet trailer and get ice for the milk and bacon in the ice box.

We drove on to another park but it looked desolate. There were no other campers so we didn’t trust it. It is always good to trust your instincts on things like this. We figured there was something very wrong or there would be people. Perhaps the bathrooms were disgusting (as we’ve experienced at other campgrounds).

Entered Missouri at 4:10 P.M. Stopped at Cameron, MO at a small motel (Tiara Inn). It would be more economical than the larger ones but just as nice. The stay and the supper and breakfast we charged ($31.82).


To Chicago and Beyond 15


From My Mother’s Journal 1970:

Tuesday August 4

Robbie had to travel 40 miles to find a block of ice for the camper. No one seemed to know what he was talking about. Then, one 25 lb block costs a dollar!

The temperature outside is 55 degrees and there are kids swimming. They must come from a cold region because I think it is too cold to swim.

Ate breakfast and waited for R to return from getting ice. The night stay and breakfast was $36.01 so I charged it. We were on the road by noon. The weather is warmed to 65 and the sun is shining. The kids are laughing – everyone is in a happy mood with this nice weather.

I don’t understand why motels don’t put campgrounds on their property. They could make a good deal of money because there are so many campers on the road. Likely because an average family of four can’t afford $20 a night in a motel or hotel. Compared to $3.00 a night at a campground the motel is mighty expensive.

Stopped at 1:15 for lunch at Nickerson Farms (lunch and souvenirs $13.00). They have no decals. We need Ohio, Michigan, Montreal, Quebec, New Hampshire, Delaware, Vermont, and Maine. We need to find a Stuckey’s to buy them and “catch up”.

Mileage 56,922. bought 14.5 gallons at 42 cents a gallon in Maumee, Ohio.

Now on Ohio Turnpike (toll .95) found a decal at the toll station (cokes and sticker 1.11)

I noticed web-worms in the trees along the highway. Now on Indiana Turnpike ($3.35 – This is outrageous!)

Now in Chicago, the toll to get into Chicago was only .50. Found a Roadway Inn to stay while we take the kids to some of the museums in the city. The kids wanted to swim. Everyone was hot and tired of being in the car. They had fun swimming but apparently Jeff walked into the deep end and Becky had to grab him and get him to the side. Saved his life. Although they didn’t make much of it at the time. This is the sort of stuff I stay awake at night thinking about.

Supper at the hotel.

August 5

The first place we stopped today was the Shedd aquarium. ($2.75 for parking, souvenirs, and entrance fee) I love the coolness of the interior. The kids were fascinated by the fish and the exhibits.

Then we went to the Science and Industry Museum. Lots of buttons to push to make exhibits move. I’ve always been disgusted at the tiny babies in jars. Yuck!

After lunch we went to Pacific Garden Mission. A dark building in the middle of a not so nice area of downtown. It is called skid row.  My uncle Charlie Ross is the director there. 646 South State Street. It is one of the oldest Christian Missions (not Catholic) in the U.S. The radio program “Unshackled” is produced here. While we were there we saw some interesting things. I think the thing that stuck in my mind was the room where they heat up all the bedding and men’s clothing when they first arrive. The material is left in the hot room baking all night and in the morning the floor, covered in bugs that crunch underfoot. This is a wonderful ministry. Many are saved here because of the testimony of so many. The drunk sailors come in in the morning after a night of living it up. They can’t have breakfast until they’ve heard the gospel.

We are taken out to eat by the my aunt and uncle. It was a wonderful meal. They are such good people. I think their daughter Nancy lives in the Chicago area also.

Two nights, several meals, parking, and phone calls to sister in Iowa ($95.96)

August 6

On the Illinois Toll road to Rockford (.45) Mileage Des Plains, Illinois. 57,309. Gas 16 gallons at .44, snacks (.60)

Three more Illinois Tolls (.45 X 3) Souvenirs and pay toilet (1.82) I do not understand pay toilets. Why? What are people with no money supposed to do?

hamburgers, shakes and two blocks of ice in a tiny town just outside of Iowa ($5.11). Stopped in Dubuque, Iowa for gas, clothes washing, drinks, and groceries ($11.46) and then on to Woods Park, Gainesville, Iowa ($2.84)

August 7

Mileage 57,599 11 gallons of gas at 41 cents a gallon.

We found the Norwegian Museum ($2.50) at Decorah, Iowa. The museum houses the most colorful and comprehensive collection of things brought to America by an immigrant group.

Souvenirs, lunch, and bakery goodies ($8.80)




Then on to Spillville, Iowa to the Billy Clocks Museum. Here, there is part of a collection of clocks, the work of Frank and Joseph Billy. The collection took over 30 years to assemble. Some of the clocks are over 10 feet tall. Most of the clocks have chimes and movable figures carved in wood.





Solitude by Mary Louise Thompson

Gentle thrum from the vast above

Come Dragonfly

Glitterfly in broken sun

Touch lily’s smile as

Graceful flowers nod.

You grasp the edge of splendor.

My eye is too slow to follow.





The Hot Drink Thing In The Wall (Maybe an early version of a Mr. Coffee machine?) 14

From my mother’s journal 1970:

Sunday August 2

Up at 5:30, ate, and I asked a policeman at the restaurant why the cars were backed up last Friday waiting to see Niagara Falls and he said there had been a local bank robbed so they were checking cars. It kept traffic backed up for hours in the heat.

We checked out of motel. So far I haven’t seen any locked mail boxes in Ontario as we did in Montreal. I haven’t seen any litter along highways at all and the restrooms in filling stations are shiny-clean. The kids enjoyed the swimming back at the hotel and Jon said he’d never forget Niagara Falls. Today the weather is grand – just cool enough even with the sun shining. The rain yesterday cooled down everything and it seems to have blown much of the smog away and made it more like the Canada people have told us about.

mileage: 56,526 gas 56 cents a liter in Guelph.

The town of Guelph and Montreal were the prettiest and most scenic of all the towns we’ve driven through in Canada. The petunias grow in profusion even around the downtown buildings. We went to a church meeting in Guelph. It was excellent. The Pelons from Florida were in charge of the music. Mr. Gunn and John Smart were the speakers. Ate dinner at Guelph and were sorry to leave with such pretty weather and nice people. Left Guelph at 2:30 driving on 401 towards Windsor Ontario, Canada.

Drove to Windsor, Ontario about 5:30 P.M. Robbie called two people he knew here. We spent the night with a couple of his friends and enjoyed it.

Monday, August 3.

Left at 10:20 A.M. went over Ambassador Bridge from Canada into Detroit. The toll was $1.15. We all laughed when the customs man asked R what was his citizenship and R replied “Houston.”

Entered Detroit, Michigan. Murky weather much traffic on 94 freeway towards Dearborn, Michigan. Today is a civic holiday in Canada so it might account for some of the traffic here. Stopped for gas. It was 58 cents a liter in Windsor. Here it is 35 cents a gallon.

Detroit  – mileage: 56,748

Got directions to the Henry Ford Museum. We stopped at the new Ford Central office and Info Building. The Ford Complex is a huge, beautifully organized place with building marked with blue and white signs. Well worth the trip with plenty of nice parking both here and at the museum – even pulling a camper trailer as we are. (Museum $6.00)

At the museum we walked around and truly enjoyed all the exhibits we could take time to see. It was better arranged than the Smithsonian. We saw more smiling people here. Cars, railroad engines, antique things of every kind. Ate in the Garden Room Cafeteria, ($10.35), then walked upstairs to see Henry Ford’s personal things. The chandeliers were fully one story tall. I liked Mr. Ford’s saying that “no man can say he has no chance”. Downstairs the kids had their pictures taken with a boy about Becky’s age dressed in colonial costume. I think he was trying to single her out and chat.

We bought souvenirs ($7.69). When we left, we discovered that the shade from a tree had kept our car and camper cool so we mapped out our route – on to interstate 94.

We shall travel west until we find a Holiday Inn. Why? Because there is no camping available. There must be thousands of campers on the road because of the civic holiday. We went to visit the Griffins in Bloomfield township and had a delicious pizza, which we had never tried. On to a Holiday Inn in Romulus, Michigan. The motel may cost a little more, but I’ve never had to clean up a nice motel bathroom before we could even use it. This one was a little too close to an airport but had a wonderful pool and even a hot drink thing in the wall of our room.

A Priceless Sight 13

From my mother’s journal 1970:

July 30 (cont’)

We are now on 401 highway in Ontario Canada. mileage 55,995. Gas is a whopping 56 cents a gallon. wow.

Kingston, Ontario mileage 56,088 gas is 57 cents a gallon. Goodness, it is getting worse!

We read in the newspaper back at a rest stop that N.Y. has been warned that smog content is dangerous.  Just seems natural that this would be true but they have to put that in the paper? All along the Ontario and Quebec highway there has been a haze of smog covering everything. Perhaps it is the lack of wind and sultry atmosphere.

I especially enjoyed the “sign-language” signage along the roads. A leaping deer, a spoon and fork, a picture of a fire with a line through it. The line through it apparently means “not permitted”. Also every sign in English is in French also.

We ran into another camper at a rest stop who had been in that park with us last night. He is from N.Y. He said that park was the hottest and buggyist park he’d ever been in.

We came through a small rain shower but it just wasn’t enough to change the temperature, or do much good. Heavy smog is in the air now just past Calborne. R. said it was smoke. It seems to be smog from Toronto. We stopped at the Waterfalls Private Campground about 7 P.M. near Brompton, Ontario, Canada. ($3.00)We noticed that the restrooms weren’t too clean and no showers. I was really mad because of this as we had such a hot place last night with no showers. An English lady nearby must have overheard me complaining because she offered the use of her shower in her self-contained camper. (Her husband was being transferred to Ontario.) It felt so good and made all the difference.

God’s blessings on all the kind people in this world. (B. and M. Spears of Merriway Lane, Cincinnati, Ohio.)

It was cool in the night better than in Montreal. After breakfast we packed up and left, after we told our new friends goodbye.

Friday. July 31

Left at 11:15 A.M. That park would have been beautiful, if the sites with water and electric had some shade and the restrooms had been clean and included showers. There was a swim pond, but algae coated the water. There were two pretty waterfalls but no where to swim there. Also a quarry with clear water but rocks lining it were to sharp for kids to swim.

Stopped at a fruit stand and got some fruit and 1 gallon of peppers and red onions. ($1.91) The apples were great and so were the yellow plums. I’ve never seen yellow plums.


drove past a line of cars waiting to see Niagra Falls. Police were checking cars. We felt sorry for all those people sweating in their cars.

mileage 56, 316 and gas is 56 cents a gallon.

In Guelph, Ontario, we discovered two separate Waterfalls Parks in Brampton in our book. So the mistake was ours. We went to the wrong one. We drove to Guelph Christian Campgrounds. There was no place to put a trailer  but it is a very pretty campground. We drove on, to rest, to eat, to find a place to set up camp. The rain came down, heavy. Thunder, lightning, unending and scary.

Found a motel – “Prudehomes’ Garden Centre” with motel and swim pool and trailer parks. Stayed in the motel and ate at Beacon Hill Motel Restaurant. It was a very expensive buffet supper but very tasty. ($30.23) I had hair curlers on my head so was a little embarrassed and felt rather silly. No one took notice. The weather was so terrible outside perhaps that’s the reason why.

This motel was right on Lake Ontario and the water was choppy in the storm. We got a good night’s sleep and ate a good breakfast the next morning at the motel ($6.35). Still hot and sultry despite the storm last night.

Saturday, August 1.

mileage 56,723 gas is 58 cents a gallon.

The high humidity is unusual for Canada, I understand. We specifically brought heavy clothing to wear in Canada but didn’t need any of it. We dressed and drove to see the Welland Ship Canal Lock.

We watched big ocean liners being raised and lowered from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. (.50) The water in the lock was filthy. I think Lake Erie is called the dead lake as there can be no fish in it anymore. Took several pictures (see PAGE of Photos from 1970 vacation).

The fruit that we’ve gotten at fruit stands and that we’ve eaten in restaurants in the local area are bursting with flavor. The early delicious apples we’ve been buying taste like apple cider. Got some more just now. 6 for 35 cents – seems very reasonable.

We drove the scenic route to Niagara Falls. Stopped and saw Niagara Gorge – the green churning water surrounded by high rock banks. Saw a clock set into the bank made of flowers. A nearby horticultural station had a round flower medallion in front.

Stopped at a large park and golf course to eat lunch at their restaurant. Sandwiches. Stopped at Niagara Falls and saw the falls. The water was a deep green with white crests and reminded me of green glass with white swirls. The horseshoe falls were best seen from the Canadian side, whereas the American side was also pretty but couldn’t see the true shape of the falls, more like a straight line across. Mist from the falls blew across our windshield. We parked and walked along the railing right above the falls. The roar was incredible. We didn’t even hear the rain come until we were soaked. We ran into the gift shop to get dry.

The rain ended and we got quite a few pictures from the American side of the falls. On the Canadian side we saw a round hole with dirty brown water pouring out and mingling with the falls water. Looked like pollution to me. The brown  spread across the river.

The falls were a breath-taking spectacle. Afterwards we drove back to the motel and got clothes ready for the washateria while kids went swimming. We discovered that the maid had take our personal pillow cases off our pillows. These were expensive permanent press cases, they had been replaced with cheap muslin ones. It made me mad so R said he would say something and see if they would be able to find them.

Souvenirs while waiting for rain to stop (spoon $1.31, film $3.41. condiments $2.15, post cards .95, bone ship $1.79, fudge candy $2.15, other things $11.56.) Motel for 2 nights – $37.80. Toll on Hamilton Bay Bridge Shipway .25.

Who can put a price on the experience of seeing Niagara Falls for the first time?

Viva La Icky Snails 12

From My Mother’s 1970 Journal:

July 27

On Monday morning R called a dentist and got a 9:15 appointment. The dentist drilled into the tooth to relieve the pressure (it was a tooth our dentist at home had worked on and had anticipated trouble). Also gave R some prescriptions. Very nice young man, R said. What was so surprising was – no charge from dentist. This is a real nice thing as we are on a budget and dentistry would surely be expensive.

R has gone to get ice. (.90) This H. Johnson’s is one of the nicest we’ve ever been in. Surely the most comfortable beds we’ve found yet. It is better than the one in N.Y though it was $5.00 more per night.

While waiting for R, I spent the morning writing letters – and the children wrote a few postcards before Jon went swimming and Becky and Jeff watch T.V. Jeff is upset that he can’t go swimming because of his mastoidectomy last May. He is not to get his ear wet. He did go in at the pond in Boxford, Mass with his cousins, but kept his ear dry.

I discovered I could not get into my bathing suit. That was a shock. I knew I was getting fatter but I didn’t know I was that fat.

Left motel at 1 in afternoon. Ate lunch (of ice cream – $3.70) right before we left. They did not charge us for extra 2 hours. This motel has been here 5 years and was as clean and new-feeling inside as if it was just built. On highway saw a sign on a farm “Bought, and Prayed For”. The name on the sign was Clarence & Louise Currier” – the sign makes me happy. It was such a neat and tidy farm with a barn-typed building that was about 3 stories high, each story with open windows. We don’t know what this is – perhaps for hay.

Now we are stopped, and gazing at an amazing sight. Logs about 4′ long – thousands of them – floating downstream on a swift current. It is a wide river, near Skowhegan, Maine. I think it was the Kennebec River. So far we haven’t seen where the logs are coming from.

Jeff says he has noticed a lot of homes have moose or deer antlers over their doors. We’ve also noticed almost every other car is pulling a camper-trailer. Isn’t that something?

Today we’ve been on the road a full four weeks. Mileage 55,510 Got 10.2 gallons at 41.5 cents per in Farmington, Maine. Stopped at a few tourist attractions.

After a twisting mountain road through very pretty country we entered New Hampshire. The highways are much smoother here. We are seeing very pretty white birches and stop to take some pictures. A lake we passed stunk. It was filled with gunk and algae. Why was it so polluted?

Stopped for supper groceries ($10.55) and then at White Birches private Campground.($2.50) This could be very nice – but there is no hot water, and the restrooms stink. One shower for men and one shower for women.

Found some dead birch trees and cut them up to take home for souvenirs.

The restrooms are not tolerable, so we only stayed the one night and left at 11 A.M. on

July 28

Highway 2 is really a travel trailer highway. New Hampshire’s very much like a resort place. Very neat and picturesque. People from Florida we talked to in campground last night said the Adirondack  Mountains in N. Y. were so crowded. Campers would sit all night in cars waiting for someone to leave campgrounds.

I can’t understand people coming into a campground after 11 P.M. but 3 separate groups showed up last night and camped so close to us that I could hear them talking very clearly. One was a group of boy scouts – nice clean kids. They were just lucky to find a spot late at night with the thousands of campers on the highways.

Ice (.75) At St. Johnsburg, VT. We stopped at the Maple Museum. It was lunch time so factory was closed from 12  to 1. We went to the gift shop and got souvenirs. ($3.51)

We have now been across the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, Endless Mountains, Pocono Mountains, White Mountains, Greene Mountains, and let’s see where we go from here, right?

There was no hamburger place in St. Johnsburg so we drove to Montpelier on a twisty mountain road. Finally in Burlington, VT we stopped and ate lunch. It was 4 P.M. There was a Howard Johnson’s so we checked in because it was raining. ($38.10) Had a beautiful room and comfortable beds.

July 29

After breakfast (we waited one hour for it) we packed up and left. On highway 89 driving up to the Canadian border noticed large white dome things on mountains. We think they might be radar or observatory things. Went off here to go to St. Albans to get lunch stuff. We’ve noticed up here in north how highways are carved out of solid rock layers and it is interesting to note the various colors in the earth strata.

Left 89 to St. Albans, VT and ate at the Cornerstone Restaurant. Excellent food and service there. Perhaps the best lunch we’ve had all along the way. Mileage 55,751. 6.8 gallons at 43.9 cents in St. Albans. Exchanged two $50 American Express checks for $103.00 Canadian.

Very neat town but had to leave highway 89 to get to it. Signs say “EXIT (SORTIE)” and “NO U TURN (PAS DE VIRAGE EN U)”

Had to unload my suitcase to show customs the car and trailer title plus the Insurance certificate. “ARRET – STOP!” and “LENTEMENT – SLOW” and TERRAIN (Private) DRIVE.

Notes on Montreal: several bridges. Pont this and that. We thought Pont was a new thing not the word for bridge. We drove across the same one many times because we couldn’t figure out which way to go. Sadly, it was a toll bridge. (5 X .50)

Finally found St. Catherine’s Park to camp ($2.00) We were issued a spot way out in the middle of a field under a punishing hot sun. St. Lawrence River runs along this campground. Public swim beach at the entrance, filled with people. The park is hot and dry and no campfires allowed. Heat wave is on. 90 degrees in the shade. Unhitched trailer and opened top. Then drove into city of Montreal.

Went to Eatons Department Store and got 2 china cups and saucers as souvenirs. ($7.52) Problem now is how to keep them from breaking on the trip home. Back to car as we only had 35 minutes to shop. Drove to LaRoma Cafe for delicious Italian supper. Becky just had to have the snails. She shared. Ugh, chewy car tires with garlic. I suppose they are great to people who like snails.  ($27.70) Back on street noticed many policemen on corners. A mounted policeman was very picturesque. A lot of folks walking on street. They didn’t look afraid of thugs, etc. This is a nice change. The parking was expensive ($2.15) for 5:45 to 6:15. We saw the Metro Underground subway but didn’t have time to take a ride.

It is still very hot when we get back to our campsite at 8:15. The gnats are driving us crazy. They along with the heat are almost too much to bear. The smell from the St. Lawrence seaway is like wafts of dead and rotting stuff. There was a swift current at one side and we could hear the roar of the water rushing past from where we were. Finally temperature got down to 75 but with a humidity of 91 – it was as bad as Houston!

July 30

In the A.M. things were no better – still too hot and too many gnats – wo we got ice at the camp store ($1.00 for two dinky pieces) and started out with no breakfast. The park is on an island and as we rounded the curve in the road we could see that the drawbridge over the seaway was up and an ocean liner was being taken through the boat locks. We was it being lowered to the level of the St. Lawrence River. The french holler “GET BACK” in french and not too nicely. All this without our morning coffee!

We finally cross and find a little restaurant – after coffee – all seems better with the world, even as we sit here reeking of bug spray.

The buildings in Montreal seem clean-cut and shiny. There are a lot of tiny parks and spots where flowers bloom. All the restrooms we were in were clean with not a bit of toilet paper or paper towel on the floors. A lot of concrete bridges along the road. I noticed in the suburbs that people had locked mailboxes. This is a good idea. We read in the paper that the mailmen were not delivering mail in the 90 degree heat. Not like our postal service, huh? Rain or shine, sleet or snow, etc.

So down the road, and down the road we went.

The interstate highway 20 out of Montreal towards Toronto appears to be much like the highway between Houston and Beaumont – flat and smoggy. The radio announcer has just announced that the fish in the St. Lawrence River contain high levels of mercury – and unsafe to eat. Jon and Jeff couldn’t fish anyway. The water was too wild. Gas here is HIGH – 45 cents a gallon, however, their gallons are larger than ours. Liters??

So finally out of French land – though out dealings with the French were cordial.

Lunch, trailer stuff, and lock for gas cap ($12.02).

There are so many hippies wanting rides along here. Dirty, unkempt, smelly hippies. We noticed a great many of them in Montreal. Probably all of them filthy draft dodgers from the U.S. We also noticed on a downtown bldg that the Canadian Quebec flag was pristine but the U.S. flag was dirty and wrapped around the mast. Are they trying to be obnoxious? Don’t they know how we feel about that?

Candy .65, Toothache Drops $1.65 11

From My Mother Mary’s (1970) Journal:

Next A.M. July 21

left for Massachusetts after breakfast at Pennsylvania Dutch Pantry ($7.85). Mileage 54,636 4 gallons of gas at 34.5 cents. Drove over the Hudson River and had to pay for it! (.50).

Entering beautiful Connecticut, it seems more populated than south N.Y. state. Hills with boulders are pretty. Much greenery. All this lush, rolling countryside is such stark contrast to the ghettos on Independence Ave. in Washington D.C. There, we saw many, many colored men just sitting, doing nothing during working hours for everyone else. Why? Most colored people we came into contact with were haughty and indifferent, even as we were quite nice to them. Also noticed on our long walk back to the car in D.C. that colored people walking toward us on the sidewalk would walk between us, pushing us to step into the gutter. Why would they do this to children? We saw most of the guards at the Smithsonian were colored. What happened to the whites there? Do any whites actually live in D.C.?

Here in Connecticut there is such nice scenery. They are doing much work on the interstate in N.Y. and some here in Conn.

We entered Massachusetts at 12:25. Toll on Massachusetts Turnpike was $1.25. Ate in Old Sturbridge. On to Glenn’s (my brother) house on Ipswich Rd. Set up camper in their yard for the kids to stay in.

July 22 Wednesday

Driving in to see Boston. Stopped for film ($5.54) and boy’s haircuts ($4.00). Mystic Bridge Toll was 25 cents and another 25 cents to get out. That’s what I call making money – what else are people going to do to cross the water in their cars but go over the bridge?

Lunch charged ($17.85) at the Red Coast Grill.

Arrived in Boston but kept going in circles through the city. Mad house traffic with Crazy drivers AND people cutting in front of us. Stopped to go into Esso filling station bathroom, 10 cents to get into the toilet and the bathroom was filthy!! We were looking for a way to see the famous tower where the lights were flashed (One if by land and Two if by sea?) We kept passing it but there is NO parking. After an hour of driving  Robbie double-parked and asked a policeman directions to the U.S.S. Constitution.

Found a parking space and toured the ship. Interesting place, steep steps and watch your head, still free to get on. (see photos on Photos of 1970 Vacation PAGE)

Really tired of Boston with its terrible traffic and horrible one-way streets and no signage. On to Salem.

Went through “witch’s house” which is really the judge’s house who condemned the girls at the Salem Witch Trials. ($2.00) Then on to the House of Seven Gables. ($4.85) That tour included two other historic houses. Well worth the drive over to Salem.

souvenirs ($6.84) Jon’s incense (.72) cold drinks (.50)

July 23

On Thursday we washed clothes, ironed, kids went swimming in pond, then we all drove over to Ipswich.

At Ipswich we went to a barn-like structure that jutted over the bay. We bought 8 lobsters and quarts of clams to cook for supper. Caroline cooked and Glenn cleaned them. They were delicious (eaten with drawn butter).

Ice ($1.75) car part ($3.51) groceries ($24.00) cashed a $50.00 check, hair cut ($2.25) lobsters ($12.55)

July 24

Friday kids went fishing in A.M. Gave G W and Beth a dollar each. We left at 11:10 driving towards Maine.

mileage: 55,098 bought 14.9 gallons at 41.9 cents = $6.20 stopped for gas, coffee and toilet fee (.31) Tolls leaving Mass (.50)

at Kennebunk, Maine our total mileage used was 3,580. At Rockport, Maine mileage 55,205 Toll 75 miles into Maine ($1.90)

Stopped at Wildwood Private Park, Acadia National Park, Maine. ($2.62) Wooded park. Lunch stuff and bug spray we purchased at a little shop ($6.45) 2 rolls of film ($4.79)

July 25

Cool at night here. R was up all night with a toothache. Stopped at a seawall when the tide was in and Jon saw sardines (herrings) swim. Had to buy an alternator for the car in Ellswaite, Maine ($35.46) groceries for lunch, etc. $6.54. Mileage 55,382

Another night at the park ($2.62)

July 26

Left at noon on Sunday. We stopped at the seawall again and the tide was out. Stayed there an hour looking at tidal pools. There were starfish. Walking on sharp rocks. Picking up kelp, pretty rocks, shells and sea urchins, snails, and other tiny marine life. What a place this would be with a microscope! Took some mementos (hope they don’t smell up the car) and drove on.

Ate a fine lunch at a restaurant overlooking a bay. (4 Cove restaurant S.W. bay charged $19.75) Watched 3 lobster boats going out with bright orange things on the front of the boats. A mist wouldn’t let us take pictures. Kids had 1/2 lobster, Jon had steamed clams. I had lobster salad. Enjoyed fresh strawberry shortcake, too. Left at 2:45 to drive off the island and up to Bangor (toll .35)

Stopped at a Howard Johnson’s Hotel and got the last double room available. Ate supper at the H.J. restaurant there. All our green salads had grit in them. R still suffering from bad tooth. Toothache drops ($1.65) Candy for kids (.62)

Hippies Try to Invade Peaceful Setting: KaPOW! 10

The Vacation in 1970 in My Mother’s Words:

July 18

Ate breakfast at a PA Dutch diner “Zinns.” Left motel at 10:45 A.M. Driving through many small towns. The thing most noticeable is the cleanliness, no trash blowing across highway or smashed along curbs in the towns. We saw a lot of signs advertising cabinet makers. Passed a large factory for kitchen cabinets. The farms and homes look neat and well-kept with lots of flowers around them.

Many towns in this area end in  “ville” like ‘Shoemakersville, or Pottsville‘, some end in “burg” as in “Millersburg” or “Gettysburg.” Pottsville is high in the mountains with beautiful views (I-81) but terrible road surface. Passed a coal mine on the left. Highway smoothed out but 26 miles to go to Wilkes-Barre. Stopped for a “so-so” lunch and got directions to Mehoopany, PA to visit with Pop Underwood (The Underwoods live next door to us on Grammar Street). We stopped at a small country store to ask and the lady knew just where we were going, knew him in fact.

Mileage 54,464 GAS 14.3 gallons @40.9 cents =$5.84

We drove a winding mountain road (before Mehoopany) and finally got to his cabin on the river. We stayed there this night and all of Sunday (July 19). Really enjoyed it. Clear river, kids swam and fished. Becky got bit by a dragonfly nymph. I’ve never heard of such a thing. It drew blood. Pop took them for a motor boat ride. I enjoyed cooking for him.

July 20

11:30 A.M. Sad to leave Pop Underwood all alone up there. It is such a beautiful property up in the mountains like that, I can understand why he spends the summers here and not in Houston a block away from his son’s family. They are all so busy during summer – not home most of the time.

We were surprised to learn that Pop’s neighbor shot the tires off a hippy van when a group of them tried to enter the property. It isn’t surprising they tried to get onto the property. They are all looking for the free handout, etc. It is very quiet up there. Peaceful. But if the hippies come it won’t be.

We traveled into New York and then into New Jersey, then back into New York for overnite. Kids went swimming. R went to the washateria. Stayed at Howard Johnson’s and ate there. Room was okay but too expensive. Had to walk in mud to the restaurant. They should watch this. Too much trouble will spell problems for them in future.