Friday, July 3, 2009

Road Trip from the Historical Record!

Our recent trip brought to mind another family journey taken 56.5 years ago! I wasn't there, but came along 9 months later... The story involves my Mom and Dad's wedding held in Paso Robles, CA, near Camp Roberts where my Dad was in basic training for the Army. Sweethearts since high school, he was drafted and about to be shipped off to Germany - thankfully near the end of the Korean conflict. So the family loaded up a couple cars of friends and relatives and headed West!

There isn't anyone around who was on that trip, but the guest list included my Mom (Janice)and her mom and dad (Katherine and Arnold), her grandmother (Viola), my Dad's mom(Selma), and a great aunt and uncle of my Mom's (Anne and Lew). All have passed, though I'm not sure who my Mom's attendants were. My Dad also had some army buddies that took part in the ceremony, some of which we were friends with for many years. The souvenirs I've collected from that trip were from a shoe box in my Grandmother's house when she died 20 years ago. The goodies include a good collection of matchbooks collected from gas stations and restaurants along the way (my Grandfather was a cigar smoker), travel guide paraphernalia, and my favorite - vintage postcards sent home to my 17-year-old Uncle John (Sonny) who was taking care of the farm and animals in the meantime.

Of course, this road trip was a lot different from one today since the interstate highway system was still a decade into the future. I'm pretty sure they took Route 66 out to California, but returned through Tucson,AZ and Witchita Falls, TX, so came back a little different route, visiting some friends and relatives at a little more leasurely pace back to Iowa.

This last postcard, sent from Texas is my favorite because of my great-great uncle Lew's quote concerning the food they were eating "Uncle Lew says these eggs we are eating now never saw a chicken, and the margarine never saw a cow..." I remember Lew and Anne well because they lived on Camanche Avenue in Clinton, next to Clinton Corn Processing, which was intolerably stinky when the wind was in the wrong direction. Their house always seemed very hot, but they lived near Elwood Dairy, where we frequently got ice cream, and also, Uncle Lew slipped me a dime whenever I saw him...

Interestingly, the more things change, the more things stay the same - back then, they had inspection stations checking for insect pests. These days, there are even more inspection stations, not looking for insects (though I can recall insect inspections in the early 70s), but rather for undocumented aliens! In fact the wording of the warnings for the food supply and increased living costs almost sounds similar to the warnings that illegals bring - increased crime, stealing our jobs and threatening our way of life...

Of course, I came along 9 and a half months after the wedding, while my Dad was deployed to Germany. In fact, he didn't see me in person till I was about a year old. In any case, a shoebox of items help define a family event pretty important in the lives of my siblings and me!

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