Every once in a while a certain song, or a picture, or a current event will illuminate a memory that is not forgotten, just not thought about very often. I got such a flashback when I was visiting with my dad.
In the summer of 1962, when I was shortly to become 13 years old, my father's sisters Vera (Uncle Bud) and Theresa (Uncle Bob) decided to take their children (Vera's, 3, Theresa's, 2) on a road trip from northern California to Seattle to see the World's Fair. Vera invited me to come because her oldest daughter Teri is a little more a year older then me (aaahh, what's a few months between cousins). We had a very good cousin relationship then and indeed, even now, she is one of the dearest people in my life, all these many years later.
I believe the airplane ticket for me to fly from Los Angeles to Sacramento, the nearest airport, was about $40 (which seemed a staggering amount back then). I had saved a bunch of money in my piggy bank, and so I was able to go.
I remember bits and pieces of that trip. I remember we visited a cheese factory and a brewery, and sand dunes on the Oregon coast. While we were camped outside of Seattle, we saw big slugs in the rainforest, and I fell into some stinging nettles, and yep, they really did sting. We went up on the Space Needle, I ate a Belgian waffle, which was an amazing treat, bought from a vendor at the World's Fair. I remember my Uncle Bud buying a malt at a restaurant in which he instructed the waitress to add cherry to it as well. I think it was a chocolate cherry malt. Or may be it was a "cherry soda." (help me Teri!) Regardless, no one in my family had ever done anything so bold. I also remember falling asleep in the back seat of Uncle Bud's new car, which cousin Richard (son of Bob and Theresa) says was a gorgeous Mercury station wagon, with gum in my mouth. It fell out of my mouth, and got all over the seat and he was furious with me.
I remember riding on a ferry through the islands off the coast of Washington and British Columbia, and getting a little seasick.
The song "Monster Mash" was popular that summer and we heard it over and over and over on the radio as we travelled -- at least Teri and I did, not sure about what they were listening to in Theresa's car.
But one of the things that I remember being the most fun was when the odometer in Aunt Theresa and Uncle Bob's car turned over from 99999 to 100,000. My cousin Richard, their oldest son and cousin I am becoming reacquainted with after a very long time, says it was a 1956 Mercury, and he remembers that event too. That's because the caravan stopped, and everybody in Aunt Vera's car who could cram into Aunt Theresa's car did so, and we crept down the highway laughing hysterically and all of us trying to see the exact moment when the odometer changed.
It was such fun.
Things were a bit quieter a few weeks ago in my dad's car as we were driving along on our way to eat lunch. Before we left the house, he said, "The odometer should turn to 100,000 today." And indeed it was about to. It conveniently began inching toward 100,000 while we were stopped...
And it then finally tipped over while we were in the midst of traffic on the busy thoroughfare....
This time there weren't 6 giggling children and four adults crammed into a car. Just me and him.