Friday, March 27, 2015

The Summer of 1960

I had just completed my sophomore year at Redondo Union High School. Dad had told us that our family of 6 were going to go on a 51 day tour of the country and visit with friends and family. And, we were not going alone! One of Dad's co-workers, Elmer Leasure and his wife Virginia and daughter Judy were also going. Having read the previous stories, you know that dad was about the most handy person I have ever known. Construction, auto repair, it did not matter - he could do it or fixit. Elmer was just the opposite. He was not inclined to work on things or do other jobs beyond his duties as a supervisor at the post office. Our family were seasoned campers. This is not today's campers with motor coaches or large trailers. This is tent camping. All those jeep runs and trips to the desert in the 50's had honed our camping skills.  As word spread around our neighborhood about our trip Uncle Bill and Aunt Bernice wanted to join in for a few days and then Cal Pickens and his wife Vivian also wanted to tag along. Cal owned the local hardware store and was a frequent jeep run participant with our group.

Like a well oiled team (well not always ) we could set up camp while dinner was being prepared.  In the morning camp came down while breakfast was prepared and we could hit the road before the cook stove had completely cooled down. On the other hand, the three Leasures were always late to the starting line for the days journey.

For the trip, we had a 1956 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall that was surplus-ed from the power company. It was still the company Yellow and we had nicknamed it 'Ol Yeller. Uncle Bill had his new 1960 Chevrolet Corvair, Cal Pickens had his 1960 GMC pickup truck with an Alaskan Camper and Elmer Leasure had his 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne.

Uncle Bill Hamilton and Randy Sam Kerr and the Caravan
Before we go on I'd like to expand on the Suburban.  It had two bench seats allowing all six of us to ride 3 by 3.  Dad built a platform behind the rear seat back to the doors.  One of us could ride up there and sleep or whatever.  Under that was our camping gear and food storage.  The camp stove was a two burner propane stove with the bottle mounted under the rear bumper and the stove attached by a flex hose and stored on the outside of the rear door on a couple of hooks.  This allowed us to leave a campsite without waiting to let the stove cool down for inside storage.  Thanks to Uncle Bill we each had a CB radio so we could talk as we moved down the road.  This was at the very beginning of the truckers CB radio boom so there was not a lot of interference.
This little caravan left So California and headed East. Since this was a "See the USA" trip we would stop at just about every natural or man made attraction that was near our path.  Including road side zoo's with exotic "man-eating monkeys" or crocodiles.  Indian trading post?  But those with be future side stories.  Our first planned stop to visit friends would be in Missouri to see Anna June, Mom's BFF from high school and Mom's Maid of Honor at her wedding. Uncle Bill left the caravan somewhere in Oklahoma and returned home. So did the Picken's as they headed down to Texas to see one of their relatives before heading back to Redondo Beach.

Today we are going to jump to our visit with my Aunt Snow and Uncle Flem's home in West Virginia. I have rescued a few photos from this part of the trip and really wanted to share them with you. As we approached West Virginia, Elmer was always asking Dad where we were going. Dad's response was always “7 hills over and plum down the holler” in his thickest accent. That was always Aunt Snow's address as far as I was concerned. Where was it? Beats me. I know it was some where near Athens, WV but that is as close as I can get. 
The house with Judy Leasure and Tom Rose (sling)
The Rose family on their farm near Athens West Virginia

The farm is down in a holler in those beautiful green rolling hills of Southern West Virginia.  Today they would be considered "off the grid".  Cooking was done on a wood cook stove which of course heated the house in the winter months.  Water from a spring and no indoor plumbing.  Watching Uncle Flem using a two horse plow to till his farm was really interesting.  You would see that in movies on TV, but here it was real life.    

Here we have my Aunt Snow, cousin Martha Lu, cousin Irene, Uncle Flem and cousin Tom.  These are Aunt Snow's three youngest children.  She was always one of our favorite visitors to California and Las Vegas.  

I remember Dad telling Flem that he was a might dry.  And asked him if there was a source for some Moonshine in these parts.  Flem played it cool and acted like he did not know of any place like that.  The next morning Flem was not around and no one knew where he had gotten off  to.  After his return, he was working in the field and
Aunt Snow cleaning the bottoms of her cook ware
Dad went out to see him and returned with a mason jar of moonshine. 

Anyone who has cooked over a wood stove knows the black soot collects on the bottom of your pots and pans.  The removal of this soot is demonstrated in this photo of Aunt Snow just off the porch of her house.

From a genealogy stand point I have much to discover about the Rose family and most of the other relatives that are miles away. 

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating, Jan!! I loved reading about your family and your childhood trip!!! Can't wait to read more!!! ~ <3 Pattie