I have found the most perplexing thing in my bookcase. It's a steno pad in which a person records an epic twenty day journey from Saint Louis to points west and back. I read it mainly to solve the mystery of who wrote it. It could be Mom, Dad, Carleen, Delores, or Great Aunt Rosemary. Gary says it wasn't any of his relatives.
It starts on 7/7/1956, and I'm afraid that disqualifies Mom's sister Delores, who would be dead by then. (Then there were four.)
Day 1: St.Louis to Beloit Kansas. Every page lists the expenses for that day and a running total for the trip as a whole. Day 1 cost all of $6.70 cents. The motel was $2.60. Dad took similar to-the-penny accounts on our trip to Washington D.C., so Dad was the front runner for Mystery Traveller on Day 1.
Day 2: Moniton Springs Colorado. Great disappointment the scenery didn't change the instant they crossed the border.
Day 3: Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Rhapsody! Closeness to God! Dad is disqualified! Might be family friend Carleen, who did visit Pikes Peak.
Day 4: Denver.Pretty and modern. Total is up to $33.40.
Day 5: Vernel Utah. Venomous hatred of Vernel. "Berthold Pass is the Continental Divide. After much discussion, we none of us could figure out just what the Continental Divide is. However, we are all of the opinion that it divides the Continent some way."
Day 6: Salt Lake City. Disappointed. Missed a tour and missed the organ recital at the temple.
Day 7: Tripped over the curb and had the "first mishap of the trip," in which the Traveller got a scraped hand by bracing against the fall. This disqualifies Mom, who couldn't throw out a hand to brace herself. This might also disqualify Carleen, who in family lore reacted to Pikes Peak and altitude sickness by having her very first period. If so, I can't see a hand scrape as "the first mishap." However, it does fit with Carleen's timeline, because she could have been twenty in 1956 and she was a late bloomer. Day 7 is a big day because after the mishap they visit Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. The Traveller is not impressed with Hoover Dam; Vegas is more her style.
Day 8: They (The Traveller and her mysterious cohort, "Sue") have lunch in San Bernadino, and it occurs to me they've gone through Saint Louie, Joplin Missouri, and now San Bernadino. It's an actual journal of the Route 66 song, only the Traveller has not seemed to have many kicks so far. Finally they make it to L.A. and visit Chinatown, "Old Mexico," and The Strip. They go clubbing and see Joe E. Lewis, and "sometimes he was a little vulgar" (evidence for Carleen) "but he was so funny you just had to laugh" (pointing to Rosemary). They see Eddie Fisher (underlined) on the way out to put their feet in the ocean.
Day 9: "We had lunch in Capistrano. I tried Mexican food and I did not like it one bit." Okay, that nails it, this is Carleen. The day is spent at Laguana and Long Beach. The Grand Total so far is $66.00, including the root beer float (.25) and the Coke (.10).
Day 10: Dazzled by the Farmer's Market. Smog hurt her eyes. The running total is $67.50 and is abandoned for the rest of the trip.
Day 11: Visited CBS, NBC, and took in a radio show. Saw Donald O'Connor (also deserving of underline) at dinner. Went clubbing that night at "the Purple Onion. It is a really Bohemian type place. Undiscovered talents, but they were all terrific. The patrons were really the end though, just like something out of Greenwich Village."
Day 12: Catalina Island. "I saw the best looking young man I've ever seen on the boat home. They have the most (underlined TWICE) attractive young men here." The pendulum swings back to Rosemary ... only she reports she called "Momma" that evening, and Rosemary never had a mother at all. This clinches it for Carleen.
Day 13: Forest Lawn Cemetery and lunch with relatives.
Day 14: "We had lunch at Disneyland and it was simply awful." This has not changed. Then they went to Knotts Berry Farm that same day.
Day 15: Tour of The Star's Homes, lunch at the Brown Derby, Pasadena, and a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, where they are in the nosebleed seats, surrounded by "mad lovers" and "hillbillies."
Day 16: They pack up to head home.
Day 17: Cross the desert in 115 degree heat, then see the Grand Canyon. There is a very strange segue in which she can't really enjoy the Grand Canyon "thinking of those people who crashed." I did a little research and that would have been this accident, which happened a week before they left.
Day 18: Have breakfast at 4:30 in Gallup, New Mexico (everybody sing!) and see the Painted Desert at sunrise.
Day 19: She sleeps through Texas, but wakes up to observe that "Oklahoma City is mighty pretty." No, not really. They eat lunch at a ritzy place in Oklahoma City ($1.10!) and she reports "Oklahoma is a lovely place. They have both trees and water." I think she's exhausted. I would have been exhausted on Day 4.
Day 20: Arrive in Missouri. "Had lunch in Cuba, Mo, the godawfulest place we have ever been in." I believe Mom's parents had bought land there a year earlier, so this is an inside joke.
Of course, it made me want to follow in their footsteps on Route 66, kind of like those Oregon Trail re-creation trips history buffs take. I can't imagine driving the 12 hour days, though, especially capped off with clubbing at the Purple Onion.