I did research through the mail and going to the library – there was no such thing as internet – to find the best auditory/oral education for our son, mapped out a route and set a timetable for our exploratory trip. As we traveled we would meet up with my brother and Barb, and another couple of friends, Trudy and Herb, at specified locations around the United States. In between we’d visit with many friends made through the years of college and military life. Since there were no cell phones or email we had to rely on the US Mail General Delivery and public phone booths. Although there were several highly regarded oral schools on the Eastern Seaboard we decided to skip the crowded cities of New England and explore new territory in, for us, the wild west.
I’ve found the old loose-leaf notebook where my dream of telling this old hippie story started. I open it to: The First Day–June 26, 1974. What perfect timing. So we begin:
We left in a tropical storm on our shakedown trip from Ormond Beach to Venice, FL to say good-bye to family and friends. Violent winds and rain christened the new Dodge van and our carefully packed hand-built cartop carrier leaked like a sieve. All had to be unstowed. It took all day in Grandma Fifi’s clothes dryer to dry blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, while we did an epoxy repair job on the carrier. We tried to pack “intelligently” for the big haul cross-country and still have room for living. In a van? My mother spent many hours ringing her hands (and hankies) wondering what she would do with all the leftover gear that wouldn’t fit. She had just gone through the same thing with Terry and Barb the week before and her patience was wearing thin. I don’t blame her. The Green house has always been used as home base because of a welcoming attitude, ample space, and Fif’s delicious home cooking. Of course the real reason was that two out of three of her children and two of her grandchildren were leaving in vans for “God knows where” to live as hippies for “God knows how long”. Though we’d been hashing and re-hashing the plan for over a year, none of the parents thought we’d actually become wanderers.
I, myself, found it hard to believe that we were actually giving up our stable life with two kids, our little 3 bedroom/2 bath ranch in middle class suburbia. But harder still – how did I ever talk my husband into giving up his successful position as a white-collar “investment advisor” – the new-fangled word for a stockbroker?