Before there were Interstate Highways, before there were GPS directions, before there were seat belts, before there were cup holders, before there was car air conditioning, before there were McDonalds and Denny’s along with Motel Six, there were narrow two lane paved and sometimes gravel roads across the great desert southwest and southern New Mexico mountains driving down into the humid cotton fields of flat west Texas. Monsoons, dust and electrical storms, flash flooding, bug splatter on windshields, hot and sweaty and young forever complaining car travelers, rolled down windows, greasy fried chicken along with apple slices, and vanilla cookies. So, all of this was the conditions in which made up our vacation experience in August each summer back in the 1950s.
We were all Los Angeles Okies taking our annual vacation trip out of southern California headed back to my parent’s motherland of Oklahoma in the 1950s. Destination, Wilson Oklahoma. Former oil boom town but depleted of most of its natural and human resources and now just a lazy hollowed out Mayberry north of the Red River. Definitely a trip in the retro-time machine. A look back to what might have been us had we stayed in Wilson years ago But very glad mom and dad decided to move to the west coast in the early 1940s instead.
But anyway, this grueling trek was a 24-, hour relentless marathon. Don’t stop for anything unnecessary until you get there. Just stop for gas, potty, and coffee along the way. My dad must had nerves of steel and an iron will to never spend much time or money on the road. So my dad’s fast driving was a blur of quickly passing tilted phone poles, tattered billboards, miles and miles of barbwire fences, prickly cactus, little red Burma Shave signs, weathered wooden windmills, rusting junk yards, big red Coca-Cola machines, and Texaco gas stations with the big red star. All of this but with the exception of an occasional stop for a highway trooper pulling us over for speeding. Requiring my dad to begrudgingly pay the fine before leaving the county. Darn!
So, without much thought, I wouldn’t trade these remarkable travel memories for anything. I’ll take the sticky fried chicken and rolled down windows all the way to Oklahoma in my mind. Land that time must have forgotten. Hello to my parents past. Goodbye for a few days to busy and smelly L A. Bottom line was in the end, we all were glad to return to our comfy home in Los Angeles. Thankful for toilets that flush and rolls of toilet paper. Don’t think I could get use to outhouses and bathing in galvanized tubs. But that was back then.