My four-stage 1973 road trip started in Apache Oklahoma. Katie Patterson drove us down in her Ford LTD in Stage One to stay with her folks, Mama and Papa Hays, in Shreveport Louisiana. There we ‘visited’, were spoiled (I was a third, honorary grandchild!), played golf – I recall smacking the ball under big old trees draped in lichen, or old man’s beard – and ate superbly.
Larry and his sister Ginny joined us, having driven down from Cobleskill NY and we got ready for Stage Two of my Great North American Road Trip: Heading north-east in a light greenish-grey Volkswagen Bug.
Larry and Ginny had packed their camping kit on the back seat; One more passenger meant we now needed a U-Haul carrier on the roof.
I remember surprisingly little about this trip north-east! We left the Red River and crossed the Arkansas River near Little Rock; I remember camping:
I remember crossing the mighty Mississippi River in or near St Louis, where the Missouri joins it;
The only thing I remember clearly is hoping my ID would be checked at the door when we went for my very first legal beer at a TGIF bar in Missouri. I held my SA passport ready . . I now know it was a Sunday; Richard Nixon was the President; We were listening to Killing Me Softly With His Song, and Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree; and the man at the door just waved me through. ** sigh ** why have I always looked much older than I am? Nowadays people think I’m a hundred in the shade. Next they’ll be wanting to take away my drivers licence . .
Oh, well, at least there some other world-firsts happened that week: The first cellphone call; The World Trade Center twin towers opened; the first international rugby sevens tournament took place; the last American soldier ignominiously left Vietnam; and Pablo Picasso died.
I also remember getting to Larry’s hometown Cobleskill, a beautiful little town in upstate New York, and meeting his parents. I’d heard about Cobleskill since 1969 when Larry breezed into Harrismith and we spent a fun year making memories and amok; early experiments mixing beer and petrol – which he called gas. Well, we had a gas! Fun times!
That’s a really vague and sketchy recollection of a magic route! Larry doesn’t remember much more. In fact he confidently remembered the VW Bug as being red! ‘Tis not only my memory glands that are dodgy, I’m relieved to tell.
He’s going to ask his sister Virginia. She’ll know more. I know we went here, cos my trust Olympus trip 35 camera recorded it, but where is it?
A few days later, another VW Bug arrived, full of gorgeous Oklahomans; and one less-than-glamorous Aussie . . and this Bug was red.