Sailor Daddy contemplating next adventure.
All across the United States were wonderful pull outs for cars and trucks. They were free and often had picnic areas and rest rooms. We would often pull into these areas and play and relax while Mother prepared a meal in the trailer . Daddy would take us exploring and we would look for wild berries which we would pick and bring back to Mother. She would put them in a batter and make pancakes. We would then invite any Truck driver that was there to join us and we would share our bounty. These Truckers were so appreciative of our hospitality that they appointed themselves our Highway Guardians. They passed the word to other Truckers to be one the look out for the Green Frazier with the Green House Trailer. When we would pull in to gas stations for fuel there was often coffee and refreshments prepaid for us by one of the Truckers. When ever we had a flat tire or any kind of breakdown a Trucker would stop to assist us. They were our AAA road service, so to speak. I entertained myself for many hours day dreaming about marrying a Trucker and traveling across the country. It all seemed so romantic. The Truckers were my real life heroes.
We were in Washington State at a state park and to our delight there was a group of Native Indians putting on a Pow Wow. Complete with natives in full Indian Regalia, dancing and singing. While another group was cooking fresh Salmon over open wood fire pits on wooden spits. The smell was intoxicating. My parents were sleeping after driving late into the night. I so wanted some of that Salmon, gathering all the nerve a little girl of seven years could muster, I proceeded to make pot after pot of coffee and took it out to the Indian Fire Pit Masters. They cut off little bites of fish and appointed me the official Salmon Taster. I was in Heaven. They chopped up wild garlic and stripped wild rosemary into large vats of butter which they painted onto the slabs of Salmon with mops made of cloths wrapped around long sticks. I worked side by side with them while the chill of the early morning was burned off by the hot sun and the fire pits. I would run over to the faucet and bring them fresh cups of cold water to quench their thirst. They would give me their kerchiefs and I would soak them in cold water to place around their necks. I was hot and covered in a greasy smoke grim when my Mother came looking for me. She apologized to the Indians for me “pestering” them and hoped I had not been to much trouble. I hung my head in embarrassment. One of the head Pit Masters stepped forward and said; “This young lady has worked as hard as any of us here today and I think she will agree if we pay her in Salmon.” With that he placed four huge full Salmon Slabs on a wide piece of redwood and handed it to my Mother. I was thrilled.
Daddy took us swimming in the lake. I learned to swim at an early age. Daddy threw me into the water and dove in next to me. “Swim to me, Mary Kay. I know you can do it”. And I did. Mother would not allow him to do that to Linda. She was timid around water the rest of her life. In the pictures of us in a Lake with Daddy you can see Linda clinging to his neck and she is screaming. She liked a heated swimming pool and preferred the shallow end. Which pretty much defined her life. Always safe and comfortable.
Mother said I used an entire pound of coffee and dirtied every cup we had that morning. But she was pleased with our bounty.
We were driving through Montana near Helena. Daddy met a retired couple that was going exploring for “Picture Rock”. They showed him some flat reddish colored rock that a fossil had fallen on hundreds of years ago and left an impression. They assured him it was valuable and plentiful up in the hills of Montana. He asked if he could tag along with them. They were happy to take him along. They had a relative that owned a ranch at the foot of one such mountain and arranged for us to park our trailer there. I loved this place. They had a couple of children about my age. And they had a RED RYDER Wagon with wooden slats on the sides. I being the leader of every pack decided we would recreate the pioneers and make trails . I found some thin boards and fashioned a frame, taking an old sheet and created a pioneer style covered wagon. I appointed them the role of mules to pull the wagon and I was trail boss. Riding along on my mighty stead of a stick horse. The trail had to be created out of this wildness. I moved rocks and stumps in the way to blaze a trail worthy of our party of pioneers. I would toil from dawn to dusk.
Daddy would get up and I would pack us both a lunch. He would hike off into the mountains to haul down these rocks. And I would return to my travels of the pioneer. We were there for three glorious weeks. Daddy had managed to pack on his back down the mountain a handsome stack of these “Picture Rocks”. He spread some of them out around the trailer making a nice deck for us. “Just envision these in our back yard. We will have the most unique patio anyone ever had.” He would gloat. Finally, the day came when he decided we had enough rock. He then lined the entire floor of the trailer with this flat rock. He was so proud of his accomplishment. Lots of hard back-breaking work went into those three weeks. We said our good-byes to our host. I bid farewell to the little covered wagon , with its now tattered top from traveling so many hard miles on the trail. Off we went down the highway. I think we got to the other side of Helena when all the tires on the trailer went flat. My Mother was not happy. But, Daddy tried to cheer her up. “Just think of the lucky person that comes along and discovers this wonderful bonanza.” He said, as he carried out and neatly stacked the “Picture Rock” alongside the road. He left only a few in the trailer which we did indeed put in our patio.
When we went to the Petrified Forest, once again visions of a unique Patio went through Daddy’s head. Mother kept telling him it was against the law to remove any of the Petrified Wood from the forest, punishable by a large fine.
When we got about a mile or so out of the official Petrified Forest, Daddy pulled the trailer off the road. Got out and went under a barbed wire fence. After about an hour he came back carrying a gunny sack filled with petrified wood. He decided it was not on State Land and the Rancher that owned this land didn’t care enough about the rock to gather it up. So, it was alright for him to take it for our Patio. It would be treasured and respected. We did have a very unique and beautiful Patio.
We were traveling along a highway that ran closely along side a rushing river. It was teeming with trout. You could see them jumping out of the water. We kept watching this. “Are they still jumping, Mary Kay”, he asked. “How high are they out of the water?”, his voice filling with excitement. ” I can just taste some nice trout for supper, can’t you?” ” Yes, Daddy, but we don’t have a fishing pole”. I pouted. He pulled off the road, parking right next to the river. “Ahh, poles are for sissy s.” He took his buck knife and cut a couple of sticks off a tree. Whittling sharp points on one end. He handed one to me. “Now you stay next to the bank I will flip them to you and you flip them onto the grass.” He instructed as he rolled up his pant legs and proceeded to wade into the river. Now, I really did not think this would work. But I would try anything, for the fun of it, if nothing else. It took him a few attempts but soon he was actually flipping the fish over to me near the bank. Many of them got away from me. But I was able to scoop up some with my hands and spear a few with my stick up onto the grass. It was so much fun. We both got soaked. We threaded about ten of them onto one of the sticks. Daddy took one end and I took the other and we proudly marched back to the trailer. Mother hauled out her big cast iron skillet. After we cleaned them she dipped them in eggs and rolled them in corn meal, then fried them with Crisco. I have never had fish that tasted that good since. Fishing License? We didn’t have a pole. So, I am sure we did not have a fishing license.
We were traveling along a very narrow, steep and winding mountain. The wind was blowing hard. The trailer was swaying wide. I could feel it shifting the rear end of the big, heavy Frazier. I could see my Daddy’s face in the rear view mirror tensing up. He had slowed down, but now we crested the hill and were gaining speed as the big trailer pushed us along. I could smell the rubber from the brakes as my Daddy tried to gain control. WHOOP! the side of the trailer hit the side of the mountain. SCREECH! I could hear the siding of the trailer peel away. GRIND! My Daddy pulled on the Emergency Brake and geared the car down to the lowest gear. We limped into a garage just out- side of this little town. It was closing time and the owner was just getting ready to go home. My Daddy noticed that the man had started an addition to his building some years past and had left it unfinished. He talked to the man and arranged for us to park on his adjoining empty lot. After agreeing to an exchange of labor. Daddy would finish the carpenter work on his addition and the mechanic would fix the burned out brakes and weld a new frame for the side of the trailer. We spent about a week there. Mother went with his wife to pick fruit in their orchard and the two women canned fruit together. I remember the peach jam that Mother made to go along with her famous Oklahoma White Bread which she shared with their family.
Daddy encouraged us two little girls to pick up coke bottles along the side of the road. They were worth a penny deposit in those days. We also, picked up any trash we saw along the road. Daddy said it was the least we could do to show our appreciation of this fine country. We could save our coke bottle money and when we got to Boston, we were rich enough to buy the two things we loved best. Pizza and Italian Slush. Pizza did not find its way to California until the late 50’s. I remember us going to North Beach the Italian neighbor hood of San Francisco to get Pizza. It was not well-known in those days. The Italian slush never has quite made it here. I have tried various renditions of it here in California. But somehow it looses in the translation. In Boston they made it in an ice cream machine. Lemons zest, lemon juice and sugar with water that becomes perfect Slush. It was served in what they called a two penny white paper cup. One slurped it out of the cup, crushing the cup to get the last bit of goodness. And yes, it cost two cents. A pizza cost Fifty cents.
Daddy took me to Grand Central Station I don’t remember if it was in New York or if it was the Train Station in Boston. But, It had these long marble bars with brass rails. They served Oyster Stew. Made with fresh oysters, cream and butter. They made this right in front of the customer . There were no stools or tables. The customer stood up and ate the hot steaming soup from a mug, swallowing chunks of oysters with gusto. The little oyster round saltine crackers were served in little packets. Daddy got very good at duplicating this in California when we would get oysters from Tamalas Bay. Allowing us to sit at the table. Which I was grateful, if he thought it would make recreating his beloved East Coast experience more real, I am sure he would have had us stand at the kitchen counter. 🙂