Car Pooling Chaos

A benefit of divorce was having a dad who moved around the country. Of course it wasn’t enough to make up for Mom crying all the time with no explanation. Oh well. My sister and I had two worlds to explore.

I visited Mary and Dad in Connecticut. I remember taking a walk in the woods with all these caterpillar webs hanging from the trees. All through the leaves and twigs on the ground were rusty cans and trash. I even stumbled over an old car. This was quite a contrast to all my wilderness hiking out West. I’m prejudice against easterners but so many have moved west since the 60’s, the whole country is full of litter bugs and people who don’t wave.

Weirdly, the highlight of the trip was a 22 inning ballgame on TV and a movie. As a movie buff I had heard and read about Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. The New York Times said it was to be on TV after the baseball game. They were right, unlike their claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The game went sorta long but I stayed up anyway to see how Bergman’s crusader dealt with death. Bergman went all Woody Allen after that and I’m not a psychiatrist so I lost interest in his stuff.

Dad was a pal when he took me to Albany to get me on my way back home and mostly out of the urban nightmare. I hitched as far as Utica, New York and spent the night in a Salvation Army that sounded like a TB ward. In the morning I was glad to get on my way to Watertown to visit a friend and her family that lived on one of the Thousand Islands on the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Their home was a little thing on a rock with the water right by the house. It was strange after growing up by the ocean with tides.

The year was 1973 when Israel was at war with Egypt and Syria. OPEC suddenly raised oil prices by 70%. Traffic was light. There were lines at gas stations and they often ran out of gas. Canada encouraged students to hitchhike to see the country as summer jobs were scarce. They organized hostels for overnight stays across the Trans Canada Highway. One where I stayed was at a day camp so we had to get up and out by the time the kids arrived in the morning.

I met some striking miners in Sudbury, Ontario, home of the second tallest smokestack in the world. They had an old house in the country and we sat around a fire drinking beer and cursing the bosses. In the morning they took me to the highway. On the way, a big Caddie cut us off. My miner friends got ahead of this older couple before the next red light and one of them jumped out and stood with his hands on the front of their hood. The other guy went to the driver’s window and screamed at the poor old guy. I was curled up in the back of their Mini woody wagon and was glad when they called off the tantrum and got me to the highway.

In Sault Ste Marie at the eastern end of Lake Superior I got a ride from a high school kid with a new camera. He took me home to meet his folks and we had a great supper. He shared an upstairs room with his brother. It reminded me of our old house with a ceiling that followed the peaked roof. His brother was away at camp and I had his bed. When I arrived home in Oakland there were some pictures in the mail of me from him.

Stay tuned.


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