Saturday, April 15, 2006

When we were wee . . . - Sunday Scribble #3





When I was very young, my dad was in the Navy. When he wasn’t stationed on a ship and overseas, we would live in either California or Illinois. At the time air travel was financially untouchable for most people and even though low ranking military could get along then on one income (unlike today) air travel would have been financial folly.

The romance of the road that is nostalgically recalled as Route 66 was for us a reality. When dad was with us, he would load us up in our old green Nash Ambassador Airflyte. The irony of the name of this car isn’t lost on me either considering cross-country flight was never an option for us. However, I had the entire back of that car for the days long trips back and forth between California, Illinois, and oh, let’s not forget the Korean War era and our trip to stay in Wisconsin. That car was so big you could practically set up housekeeping in the trunk. The backseat was a child-size bed and it was in that backseat that I claim my earliest memory.

Route 66 for us started in Illinois and dropped south through the Texas panhandle, across New Mexico and Arizona until we finally reached California. Somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona it was night and I was tucked into that big old bed of a backseat and was staring up into the desert night sky. I was maybe four at the most and definitely under five because my sister was not yet born. There was little or no moon and the stars were so dense and unbelievably bright. The world then was cleaner, the sky clearer, the stars visible even on a full moon night.

Now, fifty plus years later, when we travel at night through the desert I lean my head up against the car window and gaze at the night sky. It looks a bit different today. Even in the most remote areas one can see a solitary light where some independent soul has decided to live. Or high up on the horizon one can see lights blinking suggesting radio stations, weather stations, or military posts. The sky isn’t as bright, air pollution has dimmed its luster but that earliest memory still sparkles in my heart and mind like the stars that so enchanted me in my long ago childhood.

15 comments:

Becky said...

What beautiful writing! I've just come back from a little break from my blog and found the comment you left. I'm flattered that I've been part of your inspiration for your blog. The french postcards are a real treasure, that's for sure.

megg said...

this is so evocative! It took me back to my own childhood trips in the car. I remember how long they seemed back then - trips that now take less than an hour or two! Thank you for this!!

paris parfait said...

Your lovely post reminds me of some of my own travels-----especially traveling when it was still unaffordable to most. Really good description of those days!

GreenishLady said...

This was a lovely glimpse of a life. In my childhood, the person with a car was a rarity around us. When my uncle got his first car, he went patiently from family to family, squeezing us all in in turn, to take us for Sunday outings. Never travelled at night. Never very far. This was beautiful. Thank yo.

GreenishLady said...

OOPs. Meant to thank YOU. Sorry!

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

ah true memories of route 66, those I dreamt about and you lived! Wow! Road trips such as these are sweet postcards!

Marilyn said...

What a wonderful memory to have. I used to dream of traveling Route 66 in a backseat just like you described. :)

Laini said...

I loved car trips as a kid, too. They had such a ritual to them (we had three kids to squeeze in, and it all had to be just so), and there was some fighting, some boredom, but mostly just the excitement. Reading this I completely felt what it must have been to be that tiny child in that enormous car. I bet it felt so safe and cozy.

Jennifer said...

this made me think about hot, sticky, smelly car trips to TN with my siblings...it also makes me want to ask my mom about some of her car trip memories (her dad was in the service and they drove all over america). thank you for sharing your memories here (and for doing it so well).

Jennifer
(www.jenniferwells.typepad.com)

Alexandra G said...

Our landscape is changing so fast and I wish for every child experiences like yours, car trips spent dreaming about life in the new places your young eyes are seeing, and I wonder what we are losing when children don't have experiences as you so evocatively described. Thank you for such a sweet, lovely post to read!

Jeremy said...

Beautifully, succinctly written. Halcyon days... Keep it coming.

Jamie said...

What a wondrous place that back seat sounds like, a special place just for you, a place from which to see the stars.

mary jane said...

We live not to far from Route 66...now they have signs that say,"Historic Route 66"....that two line road is a very slow one today....

Joy Eliz said...

Beautiful memory...reminds me of the car trips I took with my parents...I remember the night time more than anything else.

tinker said...

I thought our family was the only one who put a bed in the backseat to travel - lol - we did that for trips from Calif to Arizona, Ark., Missouri, OK, etc to visit family. And yes, the dark, starry, starry nights! Thank you for bringing back those memories through sharing your own.