Thursday, April 9, 2015

1960 Trip continuation 4

Canasta was the favorite card game for our parents and most of the couples that visited our house. Elmer and Virginia Leasure were frequent visitors who tried to  beat Mom and Dad at this exciting game. Dad and Elmer were letter carriers at the Santa Monica Post Office following the war. Both moved up the supervisory ranks and by 1960 both were supervising their own units. Elmer was in charge of the Colorado Street Carrier Unit and Dad had the Building Maintenance Unit. Both of them were raised in southern states which only enhanced their friendship. I think I mentioned this before, but Elmer was my first supervisor when I began working at the Santa Monica Post Office.

In 1956 Elmer's eldest daughter Nancy married Maurice Philbrick and after a couple of years in Southern California they moved back to Maurice's home town of Epsom, New Hampshire. A few miles East of Concord, Epsom is an older small farm town which had many generations of Philbricks. In fact Nancy moved into one of the older homes in the area which had been Maurice's great grandfathers farm house.

Most of Dad's photos from this trip were destroyed in storage so I'd like to describe what I saw when we pulled up the dirt road to their home. Typical of this area, there are trees everywhere. The road which was not really dirt, but a gray color, was cut in the trees and lead to the barn. The barn was huge and attached to the two story house by an enclosed walkway. Again, something typical of these old New England farm homes. After our greetings we were invited in to the house. The entry had a huge slab of Granite for a step into the house. The smaller first step had sunk into the ground at fairly steep angle making a dangerous first step in the rain.

We were told that the Granite was from a local quarry that was still in operation after more than 150 years. The drive way was this same Granite crushed into small pebbles. Maurice explained the enclosed walk to the barn was due to the deep snows in the winter. It was used like a mud room after caring for the livestock living in the barn. It also provide covered access to the out house located through a door in the far side of the barn. The Philbricks were in the middle of upgrading the old home for their future family.

Dad used this chance to take a couple of day trips to cross Maine and Vermont off our states we have to visit list. One of those took us past the famous Old Man of the Mountain rock face.Unfortunately the face's long life ended in 2003 after a high wind and freezing weather struck it down.

We were now ready to head South West to visit with The Fox and Kerr's around Covington Kentucky. I don't remember where Uncle Bob and Aunt Lu lived, but I kind of remember they had a sloping driveway that lead to their back yard. That is where we set up our tent and made our base for the next few days. One night we had a thunderstorm pass through and lighting hit right near the tent. Scared the crap out of everyone. Our tent had metal poles and the one that stuck out the center of the top should have been like a lightning rod but we got lucky. It was a fast moving storm so the lightning threat left quickly.

Uncle Ed and Aunt Alice lived nearby and they had ponds on their property. Ponds mean Frogs and Frog gigging for a supper of Frog Legs. We did that one night and that was really fun for me as a city kid. Cousin Eddie was a trained graphic artist and he offered to paint 'Ol Yeller on the front of the Suburban. That made it official 'Ol Yeller was born!

Eddie also had a Model A Sedan and his sister, my cousin, Carolyn (who is just a few weeks older than me) wanted to go on a double date with her boy friend and me and one of her girl friends. Eddie let us borrow the Model A and I drove us to their favorite Shoney's Drive In for some burgers and onion rings. For readers on the west coast, Shoney's are Bob's Big Boy. Right down to the red checkered d├ęcor. We then drove around and I got a tour of their home town area.

Uncle Tom was, well, Uncle Tom and had some cars he had been hired to transport up to Dayton Ohio. So off we went. I have forgotten what we drove up but I know we all rode back in one car. During this drive, Dad asked Tom about any Jeeps that he might know about for sale. Dad and I had discussed this and I had enough money saved to buy one for the right price. Tom mentioned one that he thought we might get for a couple hundred dollars. We took 'Ol Yeller and drove to the farm that had the Jeep. It was a 1943 Jeep built by Ford during the war. It did not run but it moved free and had decent tires.

The farmer also had a pedal pump player piano and some rolls for sale. I bought the Jeep and Dad bought the piano. We towed the Jeep to Bob Fox's brothers house and he and Dad built a tow bar for the Jeep.
Terry and I and my Jeep in action after frame up restoration
We took the Jeep back and put the piano on its back onto the Jeep and tied it down.

So now we had the Jeep with it's windshield fastened down to the hood and the piano flat on it's back. My Jeep had become a trailer for Dad's piano. I really wish I had a picture of this rig.

One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip is my Civil War era musket. It is an E P Bond, 50 caliber smooth bore with a 39 inch barrel. Made in London England it survived all these years in pretty darn good shape.  The musket came from a theatrical costume company inventory that Uncle Tom had purchased.  A brand with the Wm Beck and Sons logo is burned into the stock.  Further investigation into the Cincinnati city directories of this era shows the company as "Regalia and Costume Manufacturers".  This example is from the 1880 directory.   

Wm Beck and Sons listing in the 1880 Cinn OH  city directory.
Upon returning home I took it to a gun smith and had it checked over before attempting to fire it. I had a lot of fun shooting that musket out in the deserts of California and Nevada.
That is it hanging above my fireplace and it is still shoot-able today.

'Ol Yeller is loaded up and with our Jeep trailer in tow we are ready to hit the road towards Yellowstone Park.

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