Crossing country in a Rambler Wagon
Continuing with my memoires, It was the summer of 1960 and I'd just graduated from high school. I had decided to go to college 2,000 miles from home, to a university that was affiliated with a religion not my own. In fact, I knew only one member of that religion, Betsy who sat next to me in high school English class. I had mixed emotions. Never even seriously thought I'd be headed for college but here I was, ever the adventurer, headed for the wild west...
My parents decided to drive me to Utah for my initial campus introduction and registration. They had a new 1960 Rambler station wagon that had been purchased to assist the Jeep to deliver papers. That Rambler wagon was to be the chariot to take us across some seven states, over the Rockies and into the state of Utah.
The day before we left I was on the paper route as usual. For some reason I was driving the Rambler instead of the Jeep. As I drove from store to store, I'd double park while Roy Potts ran the papers into the stores. Webb’s Drug Store, on State Street and Shaw Avenue was the next to the last stop on the run. The light at the intersection was red so Roy jumped from the car and as the light changed, I turned the corner and pulled as close to the curb as possible. The curb was unusually high - a fact I'd not noticed, and as I got close the rocker panel below the door had an unexpected meeting with the curb, pushing the panel back and preventing the door form opening.
There was Hell to pay when I returned home. My father was absolutely certain that I'd damaged the car on purpose. He let loose with his usual litany of foul and vulgar Anglo Saxon verbiage. I cried and insisted it had been an accident that could have happened to anybody. Fortunately Smokey DeCarlo was a neighbor and proprietor of a body shop that boasted a sign, “See us at your earliest inconvenience.” My father took the car to Smokey's Auto Repair for some quick and temporary body work. The car was soon repaired well enough to open the door and travel across the country.
At 6:00 the following morning and with the Rambler wagon loaded to the gills, we were on our way out of town and the state. I never looked back. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa. As a right of passage my father turned the steering wheel duties over to me and I drove much of the way. I loved every minute. It was the longest stretch of peace I could ever remember with my father. Nebraska, Colorado. The drive across the Rockies was something. Steamboat Springs, Hot Sulfur Springs, and our last night on the road was spent in Craig, Colorado where we had a breakfast of “Silver Dollar” pancakes (or flapjacks) like I'd never had before and the waitress answered most questions with, "You, bet!" an expression I'd only heard on television.
Finally we pulled into Provo and found my dorm, Stover Hall. The Dorm Mother was "Sister" Jean May; a sweet grandmotherly woman with whom my parents immediately fell in love. They made her promise she would keep an eye on their "Sonny" and keep them informed of whatever needs arose. I can see them driving down the street next to the dorms and turning right on Highway 89 that headed up Provo Canyon and eventually back home. What I didn't see was, as soon as they were out of sight my father had to pull the car to the side of the road because he was crying and sobbing uncontrollably. He was never able to express affection to me, but his feelings flowed in the privacy of the car with just his wife to comfort him. My mother told me later that they sat and cried for nearly an hour before they composed themselves and drove on, leaving me behind at the gates of my manhood.