Tuesday, June 18, 2013
In 1957 my parents decided that life in Odgensburg, NY was not their ideal paradise. My dad had taken a job that didn't turn out so good. Plus, there was a certain stigma lurking in that city. It was also home to one of the state mental institutions. People always joked about going to live in Ogdensburg.
So, they packed up everyone, my four-year old sister, newborn brother and me into the 1952 Ford Station Wagon, a U-Haul ® trailer behind and headed for Napa, California. They chose Napa, as their best friends, The Gosso family had moved there a few years earlier.
The interstate highway system was in its infancy and was only finished near a few major cities. So, we eventually found ourselves on Rt 66 headed west and hit every town mentioned in the song of the same name. There are certain things that a 9 year-old might remember: my first time staying in a motor hotel, tumbleweeds dancing across the highway in Oklahoma; being in four states at the same time (The Four Corners – New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah); traversing the Mohave Desert, and seeing all the orange groves and palm trees in Southern California. Oh and my very first custard ice cream cone. There is one other thing that comes to mind from that five day cross-country trip - Horse Horse a game that my sister and I played to pass the time. So, I would look out one side of the car and she would watch the other side. Each time we saw a horse, we would yell out “horse, horse.” But if you mistook a herd of cows for horses you lost a point. When we passed a cemetery on our side of the car we would yell out, “cemetery, bury all your horses.” The opponent would have to start all over again. Naturally that lead to some headed shouting matches. I think when we did the trip again in 1964 we played a variation and much more violent version called Punch Buggy, a game of spotting VW Bugs. There were a lot of bruised shoulders and arms after playing that one. We only lived in Californian for about a year and ended back in New York State to usher out the 1950s and bring in the 60s. It was an interesting time to be growing up. I got to be part of the the early days of rock and roll, the era of The Twist, experienced the surfin' sixties (no where near a beach) and was there for the third British invasion of the Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Freddie and the Dreamers, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I was there when the Stones played the Syracuse War Memorial in 1965. And yes, I even got to experience Mrs. Miller when she hit the charts with her rendition of Petula Clark's Downtown.