In the morning we had to dry out mattresses in the sun. Then it clouded up again so we ate breakfast in the trailer and packed. Wind picked up. We finally got through it and the weather turned nice further into PA. Stopped at a roadside stand and bought some lovely pie cherries and some apricots, and beets. ($1.10) Hard to find anything like this in Houston.
Mileage: 54,148 Filled tank at Chambersburg. 17.4 gallons at 40.9 cents a gallon
On our way to Hershey, PA. “Bridge freezes before road surface” is a sign often seen. Tiny pink flowers along the Interstate 81. At Hershey we parked in a large parking lot and walked over to a platform to wait for the monorail car to take us to the chocolate factory. (monorail $1.25 for round trip) The kids had never heard of a factory city like this. All business is centered around the factory. The streets are named after candy bars. The air smells like chocolate. After a short ride, we took the 40 minute tour. (candy and postcards $.92) Walked to a cafeteria in Hersheytown. ($7.50)
After lunch, caught monorail back. Noticed a long line of trailers at the local park so we knew no chance of getting a place. Drove south to Lancaster and stopped at Pinch Pond, a private park. ($3.50) The kids fished. It cost a dollar to fish and a dollar per fish caught. After 40 minutes Jon caught a 14″ rainbow trout. (total $8.00) The pond is small but just right for the kids. The wind whistles through the tall trees around us.
This park is near the Pennsylvania Turnpike and is noisy – but it isn’t hot. That is some comfort. Apparently it rained hard in the night. We are on a hill so aren’t worried about floods. The sun is starting to set and the wood smoke fire smells good.
After a night’s sleep, some of it spent listening to the turnpike traffic, I enjoyed a trout breakfast. Jon caught 4 trout and Jeff caught 2.
We left at noon to drive into Lancaster. Stopped at the visitor information center and watched a film about the Pennsylvania Dutch. Ate a huge lunch at Plain and Fancy Farm (15.64) and bought some souvenirs (7.23) Took the 222 towards Reading. Stayed at Colonial Motel ($26.70)
Mother’s Poem of August 1957:
Tonight the sky is set in splinters.
Moon peeps from cloud closet
like a child who peers warily
until, emboldened she steps forth.
Owl calls, startling.
And moon play hide and seek with shadows
upon forest floor
as fallen leaves whisper with each breath of wind.
Left Greenwood Hills at 10:30 AM on the way to Washington D.C. for the day. It’s Jon’s birthday. He wanted seafood. Daddy Thompson taught Jon to fish. Daddy T’s joke – he asks “Do you know what kind of diet I’m on?” You reply “No”. His answer “A seafood diet. I eat all the food I see.” The restaurant was O’ Donnells in the city. (charged $20.00)
The parking is not easy. It is very crowded. We walked to the capital building, saw the Library of Congress, and part of the Smithsonian. A lot of interesting exhibits at the Smithsonian – the Hope Diamond, Charles Lindbergh’s plane, a moon rock, and a lot of animals at the Natural History Museum. Couldn’t begin to see everything. I think it would take more than a week. We’re coming back tomorrow. All the museums are free. That was surprising. Did get some ice cream at one of the cafeteria’s to celebrate Jon’s birthday some more. (1.50)It is very stuffy and hot today.
We leave at closing time – 5:30. The traffic is confusing. We drive in circles because we can’t make out the road signs for a way out of town. Finally Robbie pulled into a service station to ask for directions – it is in a rough part of town. All colored. A policeman with his hand on his billy club came into the station, staring at us. He looks as if he is wondering why we are here – out-of-place – the only white faces around. A sign on the window at the station said “No cash kept after dark – for safety” That sounds serious. This indicates the policeman’s concern.
We saw colored GHETTOS. We’ve never seen anything like that. It is shocking! Drove out Baltimore Freeway but realized it was the wrong way. Had to turn around yet again (Robbie is mad). Came to 705 to go back to Greenwood Hills.
Stopped at Howard Johnson’s for supper. We are exhausted.
Tuesday July 14 A.M
Gnats are thick around the campsite. The air is very still as if it might rain. We head out for more sight-seeing at the Smithsonian. Stop at Howard Johnson’s for breakfast(8.11). Delicious. The smog and smell of smoke is prevalent outside the restaurant (in Chambersburg, PA). Stop for gas before we get to D.C. because gas is cheaper – 39.9 cents a gallon. Got to the city about 11:00. R let us out at the Smithsonian while he went to find a parking spot. Parking is the biggest pain in the neck here. No parking anywhere nearby. Who planned this place? No parking at all. Probably a million visitors a week and no place to park!!!
We waited a long time. Finally R got back to us. Apparently he found a space 12 long city blocks away. (we know because we had to walk back to it at 6 PM). The temperature isn’t nearly as hot today as yesterday. Good cloud cover but thankfully no rain. We had to miss many exhibits because of lack of time. Every person in the US should see the different museums here, at least once in a lifetime. Everything but the parking shows good planning and care. No elderly person could walk all day at these museums and then 12 blocks back to the parking spot – much of it uphill. We bought lunch and some souvenirs ($5.45) while here. Got supper at a Mexican restaurant but it was too much as we weren’t that hungry. (13.35)
Took lots of pictures. The original Smithsonian building looks like a fairy’s castle.
We stopped in Riverdale to see John and Carolyn Reinhardt but only John is there. He seems to enjoy living in the Washington D.C. area.
Ice, groceries, crushed ice $3.22
Wednesday July 15
R got a tool and worked on car while Becky and I hand-washed clothes. I separated the rest of the clothes. We cashed a $50 check. All went to the washateria. 7 Loads of clothes (3.00). Began to rain, hard. Sharp lightning – put out the lights just as our clothes were dried. Whew! Lunch (3.62) When we got back to camp a man Robbie knew came over and invited us to go visit. He lived at the top of the mountain yet had 3″ of water in his basement from that day’s rain. It rained all night. Awake listening to rain drip into tent top.
At the Natural Bridge Caverns there were some chimes playing hymns. I felt like singing they were so lovely, but I’ve never felt confident enough to sing in public. So I kept silent. I wonder how God feels about my lack of courage?
We purchased some more apple candy to send to Bobby and Nannie. It reminds me of some candy I was given that had been made in Washington State. That taste takes me back to about 30 years ago.
A rainstorm has caught up to us. The wind is pushing against our car and trailer on the road. The gusts slap against us. The wind carries a whistling sound. We see a car with a camper attached stopped in the emergency lane. The jacks are down as if they are setting up camp right there. Two Texas cars pass us pulling campers, too.
Driving all day in bad weather. Nerves wrecked. Night is approaching so we pulled into a Quality Motel in Winchester, VA. The family room for six is clean and new. (Charged $24.96) It is cheaper than the Holiday Inn. The heavy rain seems unending. Must do laundry ($2.40) We ate a delicious chicken supper at the motel’s restaurant ($5.41)
Breakfast at motel restaurant – really good. The sun is shining today. Virginia is a pretty state. So is West Virginia. The Interstate 81 isn’t as nice as the Parkway but R said the parkway ended when we entered VA. Stopped at a Montgomery Wards and bought R a jacket ($6.23 cash). Stopped at a dime store to send package home, get cold drinks, and ice.($5.10) Farther down the road we stopped at Stuckey’s to get some gifts for Glenn and Caroline, souvenirs, state spoons, etc. ($14.24)
We passed through Hagerstown, Maryland but never saw a single “Welcome to Maryland” sign. In a little while we saw a sign “Welcome to Pennsylvania”. It was weird entering and leaving a state without signage letting us know about it. Our mileage is 53,485. We stopped for 13 gallons of gas (5.45) We ate lunch at the Red Barn. Drove through Caledonia State Park but decided not to stay (1.75) We stopped at Greenwood Hills, PA where R remembers he visited as a boy. It seems like it’s mostly old people. Roger Dunkerton Jr. was there – looks like my cousin Gordon Dunkerton did at the same age.
We set up the camper there at Greenwood Hills Conference grounds. They had a restroom, etc.
Got up and drove to Gettysburg, PA. Took the auto tour ($1.00). It was long. I sure hope it helps the kids with their history. The national cemetery is so quiet. The birds don’t even sing there. My impression is that there are many men buried in the tomb of the unknown soldier here. Lincoln was so great. I don’t know why they don’t say more about him on the tours here.
Went to the Cyclorama. It was very interesting. All those pinpoint lights were men. The room was full of the lights. They were white at first and as the battle progressed the lights turned red signifying that they had died. At the end the red light bathed all the people in the room.
The town of Gettysburg itself has had a terrifying year. There were three churches that were burned to the ground this year. Arson. The culprit is in jail. Something to do with race relations. It seems so peaceful to us. Just goes to show how we can be fooled by outward appearances.
Went to the Charley Weaver Museum. Filled with wooden carved scenes with sound and lights. Good. Delicious lunch at Pennsylvania Dutch Cupboard. (11.18) Becky just had to order shoo-fly pie.
We’ve decide to spend our nights here at Greenwood Hills while we explore the area. Five nights at Greenwood Hills (ck for $15.00), groceries (6.08), white gas (1.10)
Went to Sunday meeting (Plymouth Brethren) at Greenwood Hills – many old people. How are they going to survive? There were a few teenagers who led the singing. G. Bull was an excellent speaker. Roger was in charge of the food for the conference this year. We stayed to eat there at noon. ($10.10) It was okay, but not great. R went to the afternoon meeting while kids and I relaxed. In the evening we went for a hamburger supper at the Red Barn (3.80), and got ice for the camper (.50). The Greenwood Hills night meeting was held in the chapel by the road. The seats weren’t as uncomfortable as the meeting hall this morning.
We said goodbye to the Daltons from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They promised to visit us in Houston with their Airstream trailer. We said goodbye to the Dutch people from Holland (I think they live in Long Island).
This is what I know about saying goodbye to my brothers and sisters in Christ – I know I will see them again. If not here, then THERE.
Left at 10:45 AM traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway – a scenic drive. Lots of pictures taken. Stopped at the first place we could for souvenirs. Jeff got a book about rocks ($1.60) Becky bought some things and told us she’d pay us back. She owes us $4.08. We drove a while and stopped and picked up a few rocks for Jeff. Stopped at Crabtree Meadows for lunch. It was good. ($11.25). Stopped at a museum about North Carolina Miners. Saw three “long-hairs” lolling in the grass beside the highway, they had been inquiring about a job at the museum.
Gas is expensive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Almost 50 cents a gallon! Stopped for worms for Jon’s fishing at Boone, NC.
Stopped at the Julian Price Memorial, the museum, and park ($2.00). We really enjoyed the cool weather at this park. A little bear showed up behind Jon as he was fishing. Becky was swimming in the lake when the bear appeared next to the bait that Jon was using for his fish. She said he jumped into the water fully clothed when he caught a glimpse of the bear. I think the bear was more interested in seeing if Jon had any fish, which he didn’t, so the bear left. No electricity or showers here. We rigged up the portable shower (cold water hose) for Becky and me to take our daily shower. We decided to stay here a while as it was only $2.00 a night.
Left the Julian Price Park at 11:25 AM. The Rhododendron are beautiful. We see only one genuine hillbilly in all the state. He was walking along the highway with a staff like he was used to walking from place to place. The last park was so pleasant we would have stayed longer if there were hot showers. Stopped at Cherry Hill shop for souvenirs ($2.15) and coffee (.47). Lunch at Bluff Lodge. Stopped in Cherokee, NC as we usually do. We love the Indian ceremonies but don’t take the time to explore as we normally would. At Mabry Mill we watch corn being ground the old fashioned way. Streams were diverted through a wood trough to turn the old wooden wheel. We visited the blacksmith shop. The blacksmith was forging some scissors. We stopped at the souvenir shop and I bought a spoon and some corn meal. Bought some post cards to send a thank you note to the Schleifs and to Jack Innes. At the end of a winding road we found Doughton Park.This park doesn’t look nearly as appealing at Price Park did. We only stay the one night.
The Parkway enters Virginia at 2:15 PM. We notice the beautiful orange wild flowers mixed in with yellow and white. I don’t know what they are. This Parkway, though not so smooth here, must be the most beautiful road in the world. Only saw one group of colored the entire time. I don’t know if they try to keep them out. I don’t know. The speed limit is 45 MPH and the road is litter free. The flowers look like they were planned but I know they are wild flowers. Park rangers patrol around the clock. The car uses almost twice as much gas in these mountains and hills than on the flat highways. Plus the gas is more expensive. What a way to run things, right?
We stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn in Roanoke, VA ($27.56) Washed hair, etc. Kids went swimming. Ate supper here. ($15.97)
As we start out again Jon starts a huge fight with Becky and Jeff. Both Becky and Jeff crying. They are unhappy and saying they want to go home. Robbie sides with Jon. I don’t know what the fight was about and I don’t care. Just wish they would get along. Stopped for lunch at Howard Johnson’s (11.60) Becky orders clams – we all ordered the clams. Seems to make everyone happy. Got some good apple candy made in VA.
Next stop is Natural Bridge Caverns. ($8.10) There are hymns playing from somewhere taken from right out of our hymnal, it seems. The long walk around the cavern and the bridge was worth it. The kids seem to be more calm and we are all in a general good mood. Post cards and drinks (.52)
Old pickup slowed traffic to 30 MPH on open highway. We were behind a Continental Trailways bus so we could see anything until we were able to pass it. We were traveling about 65 MPH when a VW bus full of hippies flashed past us. Their curtains were caught in the door. Texas license plate. Surprising not to see a surfboard on top. But then I realize we haven’t seen any surfboards since leaving Houston.
A car loaded to the max with colored people pulled onto the highway going about 35 and slowed us all down until we could get around them. The road is winding so this was not easy. Thick trees crowd along the roadside. The road is rough. We must slow to 30 in the small towns, which are few.
Not quite to Birmingham and it seems we are traveling through miles of nothing. Not even any rest stops for trucks. The big rigs cram beneath underpasses to sleep in the middle of the day. In Birmingham we stopped at a McDonald’s for hamburgers. (1.81) Took us a good hour to get through the city. They really need a highway around it for through travelers.
Mileage 52,414 Easily 100 degrees at 1:30 bought 13.4 gallons for $5.20. Took US 59 past Gadsden to Springville and stopped for groceries in Bay Springs, Alabama $2.00 included a chicken, potatoes, corn, bananas. There are pretty hills and we found a private camper park where I could cook the chicken for lunch. Jon and Jeff fished in the pretty lake. Becky swam. We are officially 1,019 miles from home. The park is lovely but there were no doors or curtains on the toilet/showers house. The tremendous heat is intolerable.
9:50 AM on July 4. Entering Georgia and it smells bad. Had to stop and get a new radiator cap for $2.33 in the first little town. Cave Springs.
Driving in valleys and then along ridges, all the landscape is bright green and lush. When we passed two silos and a dairy barn with black and white Holstein remind me of Iowa. How I miss Iowa. Rome, Georgia the temperature is 106. We stopped at a new Gulf station. 16.5 gallons for $6.60. We tried to stop at a restaurant but it was closed for July 4th. Found a little place not far down the road. We got barbecue to eat in the car. Bad. The coleslaw was warmer than the beef. Rotten cabbage. But it is gusty outside and the road is winding. I remind the children that I can only take so much of washing and re-washing to get the sauce out of all our clothes. I can see this isn’t going to be good. Sauce everywhere. I’m not feeling too good. I discovered I have some infected bug bites. I’m going to have to stay at a hotel overnight to recover. Robbie isn’t happy with me.
We call ahead to a Holiday Inn but they are full.
Robbie called our friend Jack Innes to see if he could reserve the night for us at a hotel in North Carolina.
We tried to make good time but every town we drove through had celebrations and roads closed so there were a lot of detours. In Commerce, Georgia we found a filling station with “free” coffee and cokes for a 25 cent donation. We entered South Carolina at 4.05 PM (time changed to 1 hour ahead). It was a short drive through the tip of the state. As we entered North Carolina up in the mountains we got stuck behind a big truck going 15 MPH because of the steep grade.
Finally made it to Hendersonville, N.C. Elevation 2,130 ft. at the Eastern Continental Divide. Ate at a Dairy Queen ($2.40) The Innes’ persuaded us to stay with them. Stayed Saturday and Sunday at their house. I’m finally able to sleep without insects.
This is me speaking. I was curious as to the reason that my older brother Bobby chose to stay home from the huge family vacation in the summer of 1970 so I called him. He lives in San Antonio.
Turns out, he said, that he was twenty at the time. He had no desire to spend the summer scrunched up in the car with the little siblings. I don’t blame him. However, he missed the things that we saw and ended up spending a lot of cash later on from a house sale to tour the country and see these things, too.
Plus, he spent all his earnings that summer from the job he had at a nursery, fixing up the yard at our house. He had no money left to go to school and ended up taking out a loan for his fall semester at Texas A & M.
The roads here in Louisiana are so much nicer now than they were when Robbie and I first visited twenty years ago. There are people here called “Cajuns” (KAY’ – juns), which means they are part Canadian French. They have an interesting dialect. It’s fun to listen to them talk between themselves. I hear things like “I gar-raan-tee!” which is supposed to indicate that they MEAN it.
We have good friends here and they are “wonderful-good” cooks, whether they are just cooking soup or a big crawfish boil. There are a lot of people with the last name ‘Hebert’ , pronounced “A-bear”. The Herberts we know are handsome and dark.
One of our favorite restaurants is Pat’s Seafood in Henderson, LA. But we don’t eat there this time because we are nowhere near it and so must keep moving on.
The woods along the road are real thick and lush. We are really noticing the absence of camping places. It’s getting on dark now and we do need a place to stay overnight. We see some campers have pulled into rest areas and roadside parks. There is not protection from bandits and such so we don’t understand how people can do it.
We’ve got to pull over because Becky noticed the gas tank is open, just as Jeff announced that the gas man left the “door” open.
We finally reach Lafayette. It’s only four hours from Houston but it seems a lot longer than that today. Mileage 51,749
We’ll stay at the Ramada Inn because there are no places to camp. Supper at Don’s Seafood is $18.29 for the five of us including tip. They have great crawfish. Never thought I’d ever eat such a thing but they’re good. A little like shrimp but with a richer flavor.
Robbie balanced the load in the trailer better so it won’t sway as much. Jeff announced that Humble Oil is not Enco here but Esso. He is so smart for seven years old.
Filled the tank in the afternoon near Baton Rouge. 16.5 gallons for $7.10. Seems high. We pulled into a roadside park to eat some snacks and stretch legs. The roadside parks here are not as nice as the Texas ones.
Baton Rouge has a high bridge over the Mississippi River. Industry on one side and woods on the other. We turn to go directly to New Orleans and the highway here is awful. So bumpy. I suppose since they are working on the new Interstate 10 that they haven’t paid much attention to this old road.
We arrive in New Orleans just as the five o’clock traffic is homeward bound. I notice a pelican on the bridge in Gretna, La. It is supper time so we pulled into a place called Buck 49. Jon’s shrimp is better than Christy’s. My catfish is too strong. We take the tunnel at Belle Chaise. We arrived at Vernon Schlief’s and they had a surprise – An apartment for us to stay in – very nice two bedroom with air conditioning.
Wednesday, July 1
We went to the French Market. On the way there we saw about four fender-bender type accidents. At the quarter we had plenty to do: Perfume shop, souvenir shops, coffee shops, creole lunch.
Jackson’s Square. The Schliefs said there would be a lot of hippies there (almost part of the must-see tourist view) but we didn’t see that many. Those we did see looked miserably hot and uncomfortable. Probably all that hair. The Schliefs told us if they weren’t there it was because they were on Bourbon St where there has been many robberies and murders done by them.
The souvenirs and curios are so pretty to look at but much too expensive. Took in the Wildlife Museum in the French Quarter.
The day’s total came to $32.
We drove back to the Schlief’s before the five o’clock mess that we got into yesterday. The Schleifs are famous for their hospitality and it is true. They keep the apartments for missionaries that need a place to stay. They fed us well and wouldn’t let us pay for the apartment stay.
Up early but didn’t leave until 10:45. These kids are slow as pudding in a sieve. Drove over the Mississippi bridge and saw no accidents. On the other side we pulled into pastry shop and got jelly donuts, fried pies, and a soft loaf of bread while R cashed a $20 traveler’s check.
Took the Interstate 10 truck route up onto the big highway. As we drove we saw a group of wild-haired, dirty hippies thumbing a ride. No one would pick them up, surely.
At 12:25 we entered Mississippi. No comment from the kids as they were all asleep. The #59 freeway is long and smooth so far, but I have seen no rest stops or Howard Johnson’s. There aren’t even a lot of filling stations. I hope we make it on what little gas we have.
About four miles this side of Hattiesburg there is a little rest stop but it didn’t look like much so we kept on driving. Robbie only had one cup of coffee this morning so he sure is yawning. Hope we make it.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Bought 13.8 gallons for $5.65, and some lunch stuff so we could eat driving along. We turned off the good highway through Pachuta to Quitman to Clarke County State Park. Between Pachuta and Quitman the winding road was bound on both sides with ruts of deep red/orange dirt. The state park is primitive with a pretty lake with no place to boat or swim close to the camp grounds.
We decided to keep going.
Drove to Meridian, Mississippi. 4:15 PM Stopped at the only campground in the area. Private so it cost a dollar to stay. The restrooms are filthy. The camping area is noisy and dusty as it is very near the highway. We were able to pop the camper up and get set up to cook some supper on the camp stove. We kept a little fresh meat on the ice in the box and knew we’d have to cook it soon. The box drains the melted ice away and we saw it wasn’t draining much. Cooked the steaks. So good though a little gritty with all the dust. Beans from a can. It was enough.
Settled in for our first night in the camper. I was awake as people were walking their dogs until at least 12 and the big trucks were blasting past us all night.
Packed up and left at 7:45. We ate a good breakfast at the Howard Johnson’s. Mileage 52,227.0 Meridian Mississippi 13.3 gallons for $5.70. By 10 AM we were in Alabama on a two lane highway, which was very bumpy all the way to Tuscaloosa.
An interesting thing about Mississippi – We noticed an absence of colored drivers or of colored people anywhere. Now in Alabama they are everywhere. They tend to drive very slow on the busy highway where the speed limit is 70. This means sometimes we are in a long line of cars behind a slow car like that. It really is nerve-wrecking. I wouldn’t have thought anything of the lack of colored people in Mississippi except that once in Livingston, Alabama we got stuck behind a slow-moving car. I had a chance to take in all the well-manicured lawns and houses and saw the colored people tending them.
I thought about this.
We never had any help growing up or since but I do think a nice, neat home like what we see here is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
As God is willing we are finally on the road. It is 3:45 and our mileage shows 51,518. The air is clear and warm. With all the shifting and tussling to get things in the camper and car I could use a shower. I never thought we’d leave. It took every ounce of forbearance to keep from screaming at the kids. They were forever getting packed and in the car. The pop-up camper is crammed to the gills (though I guess campers don’t have gills), so let’s say there isn’t an inch to spare inside the camper. Robbie spent $6.40 filling the tank at the Gulf station.
The worst thing – there was a terrible accident. A car went clean off the road and up into a house trailer sitting hundreds of yards off the highway. Fire trucks, police and ambulances, with wreckers fighting for space between them. It must have just happened. I check the kids in the back seat. Their eyes are wild. I tell them to look away. I must learn to be thankful for the things that slow us down in life.
Robbie tried to take a wrong turn but connected in time to get on the East-Tex freeway. The traffic is fast and furious. After our accident last year I still tense up in heavy traffic if R tailgates. I loosen my grip on the seat. R says there is a fierce tailwind so that is why the car is swaying so much. It couldn’t be because of the boat on top or the heavy loaded camper trailing behind. (!)
It is 40 minutes from our house to Baytown (Mileage 51,558). The air is heavy with the smell from the paper plant. We are going 70 MPH on the Freeway when some colored men in an old green car pull out in front of us doing 20 MPH. R swings around them just in time and he honks at them. We are back in the right lane again when the green car honks and speeds around us. I look at R. He looks angry. I tell him best not get upset, we’re just starting out.
We stop at Stuckey’s at 5:15. I get a sandwich as I had no lunch to speak of. Cold apple cider for everyone. Nut butter crunch is so good.
Becky dropped stuff out of her purse all over the floor. Her hairbrush went into the toilet. I tell her I left the Lysol spray in the trailer and just throw that nasty thing away. It only cost 69 cents.
Got gas before entering Louisiana as gas has a 12 cent tax there. Gas (Gulf) $4.39 for 11.6 gallons
On the road R keeps pushing up his dark glasses every minute. Why does he do that?
I glance back and see that Jon and Jeff have added dark glasses and a hat to my wig holder. Very funny.
Cross the line between Texas and LA – the Sabine River that is. The kids all holler “Leaving America and entering Louisiana!”
I’ve moved my mother to a nursing home. It is a gorgeous situation where she has an almost private room with her own shower. This is an unusual thing. Most of the nursing homes have semi-private rooms with a curtain between residents and a shower down the hall. She has spent the last three months in a tiny room with the shower down the hall, so we know. Now, her room has a wooden divider between her roommate and herself and a shower in the room. She is one fortunate woman.
I’m going through her things, which is no trouble because though she saved every little thing from 1939 on, this is only a quarter of what we went through trying to clear her house out.
But here is a sample of what I found in one box: Old rubber bands, old worn dog tags from every dog we ever owned, hat pins (a treasure!), human teeth with fillings, old lead bullets dug from our ditch in South Houston, broken paste jewelry, name tags from the Houston Fat Stock Show 1973, Amway reward pins (I used to sell Amway, too. Don’t get me started.), her diploma from Secretarial School, her rejection from the Civil Service during WWII, Canadian money, her saving account book dated 1942 in which she spent five months saving up pennies to $5.95, several lace mantillas that she wore to church, dozens of tiny old perfume bottles, and ancient salt and pepper shakers.
The most interesting find of all may be the letters from the German POW in France. He had found her address in an address book on her dead cousin’s body. MORE on this later.
I had never seen any of it before. After my father died suddenly, I squeezed a vast amount of her personal belongings from their large four bedroom ranch house into her one bedroom apartment. I did not spend a lot of time poking around. It was toss and go, her house was in foreclosure. It was a tough time for all of us. There wasn’t any time to peruse things. Also, it was horrid enough for my mother to lose her husband and her home at the same time, I needed to give her a bit of privacy with her personal things as much as possible. I would go through drawers, see her handwriting and toss the notebook or scrap of paper into a box while I was clearing her house. So most of her personal writing, poems, and photos were salvaged.
I never looked at them until now.
My mom was an aspiring writer. In those days there wasn’t much in the way of information about publishing but she sent her poems and short stories to Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, and Saturday Evening Post from 1959 until the mid 1960’s. She was never published. I look at what she has and know that with a bit of editing and some serious cutting she has some golden kernels.
I’m sad for her. If someone had taken the time with her, she could have been a contender.
So…I’m going to be publishing her poems and short stories on my blog. In honor of her, my mom, the writer.
I will do it within the jacket of an idea, a casing if you will, of the vacation notes she made of our trip to Canada and back to Texas in 1970. I found that she not only journaled everything we did, she included the mileage and the amount of money spent for everything. This trip was amazing. We left (I know this from the extensive notes that she made) on June 29 and returned on August 25. Who does that? Two months of vacation? Wow.
Also, she says some things that might seem shocking and controversial in our new politically charged environment, but these are real things that she said. The date is 1970, a very politically charged time indeed. So bear with the things she says, take them for being said at that time, and realize that something shocking and related to my mother’s controversial statements took place the day we returned from our vacation. You’ll have to keep reading to discover what happened.
I know that for so many years she tried and tried to get her efforts published. Now they will be, albeit not in the format she was hoping for. But I think that if she had ever learned how to get on the internet, I know that she would be pleased. It would be especially exciting for her to know that you will read what she had written.