We left off last time when Auntie Honey disappeared into the “Ladies” while Mom and Uncle Ernie got the rest of us out of the car. I grabbed Rick’s hand and headed for the “Gentlemen’s” door. After we’d all rested, we went to a little café next to the Texaco and had lunch. Rick puked up his pancakes, which he did a lot, and then we piled back into the blue Dodge and continued our trek to California.
Two days earlier, we had set out from Detroit, bound for the desert of Southern California – Westmorland, to be precise. Who’d ever heard of Westmorland? To this day, not many people have heard of Westmorland.
My Dad and Mom had decided to join forces with my Auntie Honey and Uncle Ernie in a joint venture in the Great American Southwest. They’d finally had enough of the harsh Michigan winters, and Uncle Ernie had secured a lease on a combination gas station/café/trailer court in the Imperial Valley. Dad had stayed behind to settle real estate affairs, and the rest of us crammed into the blue Dodge, Auntie Honey in the front with Uncle Ernie and the baby, and Mom in back with Wayne, Rick, and me, the big six-year-old. What an adventure!
2600 miles of Burma Shave signs – my favorite was, “Burma Shave Was Such a Boom, They Passed The Bride and Kissed the Groom – Burma Shave.” We saw odd attractions like The World’s Largest Catsup bottle in Collinsville, Indiana, and the Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World in Beaver, Oklahoma. One I’ll never forget was the place that had the larger-than-life concrete statues — the best was a naked girl wearing just a cowboy hat and boots and twirling a lasso. That was in Texas, of course, where we saw lots of cows and horses, and even a few cowboys, but no Bob Steele or Eddie Dean. I thought those Western heroes lived in Texas. Lots of boring desert in New Mexico and Arizona, until we got to the Arizona-California border, and then Mom said, “Look. The Colorado River,” and Uncle Ernie said, “There’s the Yuma Prison.” My head was spinning as I tried to see them both. It was all too much for somebody who had just finished kindergarten.
(Stay tuned for Pt. 3 next week)