Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Car Trips

Well, it is summer. My thoughts turn to the mountains. In my pre-married life, I would be in Red River by now. By the last day of school my dad, who was a school principal, would have the truck and the car loaded up.  Dad drove the pick-up with sideboards, which he had made, and the truck would be full of furniture, appliances, carpenter tools, luggage, etc. Mom drove the car, also packed to the hilt, and had all us kids. Hmm, do you think Dad did that on purpose? Actually, we took turns riding with Dad in the truck, but usually it was me that rode with Dad. The first day school was out, he would do the last minute packing, and we would head west to Amarillo. We often spent the night in Amarillo or Dumas, TX.  I learned to swim at the motel pool in Dumas. I have lots of stories from those trips to RR.

One year Dad had bought a new car - a Buick Electra 225 (1974). It was a four-door something like this.  We all thought it was huge, and it was. So, we all packed more stuff. Dad ended up renting some sort of luggage carrier that set on the top of the car to hold all our junk. It irritated him that we all packed more than usual and still there was not enough room. Looking back, it was funny.

Before the Buick we had a 64 Chevy Biscayne - the family car something like this. When my brother and I learned to drive, the Biscayne became our car. Because we went to the mountains every summer, the Biscayne did not have an air-conditioner. Later Dad had one put in - it set under the dash in the floorboard on the hump between the seats. Both parents smoked cigarettes and with the air-conditioner going, Dad would not let us roll down the windows.  We kids would fight for a window so that we could barely crack the window and hold our noses close to the crack and get some fresh aire now and then - Pure misery!

Before the Biscayne, we had a Rambler - something like this. The Rambler was my favorite, because the front seats laid all the way back. My brothers and I would lay the seat all the way down and go back and forth from the front to the back seat easily. Then we could all take naps. When you rolled the windows down, it was like one giant window - no separation. It was a fun car. It was in the Ramber that Mom was driving over the Old Pass in Red River. The Old Pass was serious switchbacks up a steep mountain. It was so narrow that two cars could not pass. If you met another car, someone would have to back up to the switchback. Drivers would honk their horns as they rounded the switchbacks, because they could not see around them due to trees and mountain.  My brothers were in the Rambler with Mom on one trip. My brother Craig was six years old while Pete was an infant. Pete was crying, so Mom told Craig to change his diaper. Craig unpinned the diaper and in six-year-old-boy behavior he yanked it out from under Pete - sending baby poo all over the car. Mom said she wanted to gag, but she had to wait until she got over the Pass.

Of course there is also the story of Dad driving our old 55 GMC pick-up truck loaded down with appliances and furniture for our cabin. Dad had a blow-out just before we started up the Pass. The blow-out shot our truck out through a barbed-wire fence and across the pasture with Dad trying to control the truck and me bouncing all over the cab. My box of kittens went flying. When we came to a stop, Dad put his head down on the steering-wheel and laughed - he was relieved that we were not on the Pass when he had the blow-out. My mom came running up hysterical - screaming. My grandmother came running too. I didn't know what was going on. Why would Dad suddenly drive out across the pasture? But I gathered my kittens in the box. Dad went back to Eagles Nest and bought a new tire. We continued on.

One memorable trip, we took our Siamese cat, Penny, with us in the Biscayne. She didn't ride well in the car, so Dad went to a veterinarian and got some sort of pills for cats - to calm them. The pills had a horrible effect on our cat. She went crazy in the car, and she shat all over everything. My mom's mom was with us on that trip. We were constantly pulling over to clean cat poop. Then we got a wheel stuck in the soft shoulder of the road. Dad blew by us in the truck. My grandma thought he was not going to stop. According to my mom, Grandma, picked up the back end of the car so that we were no longer stuck. I guess the thought of being stuck in the hot summer sun with three kids and a shitty kitty was too much for her. She was a strong little woman. I take after her. The cat nearly died by the time we got to RR. It had no hair on its backside and was so weak it could barely walk. It crawled under the porch of the cabin and did not come out for a week. But it lived! It was one of our best chipmunk catchers. That's another story.


Jo Castillo said...

Thank you, thank you, for your stories on a Monday! Your trips sound wonderful! Ha!

We bought a big Buick one year, probably 1975 so it was probably a 1974, too, very similar and gene made a "shelf" in the back so that Joanna and David could play and take naps. What fun! We were on vacation from Bolivia and drove all over New Mexico and Colorado. Started to Yellowstone but too much snow on Labor Day.

Thanks for the memories.

Bag Blog said...

Our Buick was a tank, but very comfortable and easy to drive after the Biscayne, which was a three-on-the-tree standard. And the Buick had an 8-track tape player!

My brothers always slept in the back seat, but I slept up in the back window.

John said...

Classic tales Lou. And I remember very well that old Biscayne. I drove it once in a while in Red in '75 after I overfilled the transmission fluid in my 54 Chevy. If I'm correct, I think I had a fender bender in Red with it. And then you, Craig and I drove to WF in '75 and my folks came up from Austin to pick me up.
Didn't you and I end up in a field or something when Craig was sleeping on the way back to WF? And I'm surprised we didn't kill each other in the car. Remember how I was a "favorite" of yours back then!!! :-)
Great memories. I was pretty hard on cars in Red. Deposited 2 of them in RR in 3 years....hee-hee.

CenTexTim said...

We took road trips in a 1962 Rambler station wagon. Like yours, the big attraction was that the front seats went all the way back. But being a station wagon, the back seat also folded down, so we had a totally flat surface from the tailgate to the dashboard. We kids loved it. Our parents tolerated it.

Just to add to the fun, we took our dogs with us. Kids and dogs uncorralled - and no seat belts back in those days. Chaos reigned!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I would drive my cat to the Vet, he would hide behind my truck seat and meow. Every once in awhile he would lift his head look out the rear window and after a second or so duck back down like he saw an Owl.

Other than that he was pretty fearless.

Bag Blog said...

CTT, Chaos is right! Your trips sound much like mine.

Anon,I have had cats who would ride in a car, but most are scaredie cats.