This is the second installment of my transcription of some cassette tapes I recorded in the early 1990s. This one is of my mother telling of a 26-day road trip her family took in 1952 when she was 10 years old. You can read her daddy’s version of the story in Part 1.
As told by Pallie Easley Ezell in 1992
Getting Ready to Go
We were getting the car loaded. Daddy had told Mother how many suitcases we could have which was, I think, seven. I don’t know where we were going to put all of them. And the tent had to go in the car, too. We weren’t concerned about where the luggage was going. We were concerned about where we were going to ride.
We had it all figured out that Mother and Daddy and Carlton would ride in the front seat. Mother, of course, would hold the baby. Ray was a year old and she was going to hold Ray. The whole trip, no doubt! Donnie and Linda and I were going to ride in the back seat. We had a bed fixed up behind the seat for Keith –a pillow and a blanket and the works, you know. *laughing* He could spend the whole 26 days up behind the seat!
Karla: I hope the behind-the-seats back then were bigger than they are now!
They were! There was plenty of room up there for a little 2-year-old to lay down. *still laughing* I don’t know about play and crawl around.
So that began our trip. This was how we were going to ride.
I remember Aunt Thelma and Uncle Dillon were down there that day when we were loading. I don’t know why they were there, for what reason. Maybe to check about the chores that they probably were going to do while we were gone.
I don’t remember leaving. I just remember deciding where we were going to ride and getting the car loaded.
Headed to Kentucky
One night we spent at Percy and Sylvia Ryan’s in Ryan, Oklahoma. That probably would have been the nearest. We probably spent the first night there and I don’t know if we stayed more than one night there.
We also spent a night with Daddy’s cousins, Lucille and Ernest Dameron at, I think, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, or somewhere around Tulsa. While we were at Ernest and Lucille’s Ray learned to walk. He took his first steps on their front porch on that trip. His birthday is July 9 so he was just a year old, and he learned to walk.
Then I remember that we were going to go through St. Louis and see the St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, that was supposed to be such a big event! I had no idea who the St. Louis Cardinals were. I could just see these big red birds. But it was a ball team.
It seemed like that we drove in the city of St. Louis for hours. Right down through town, narrow streets, cars bumper to bumper. There were 4-way stop signs and you stopped at every corner and would go on. There were no yards. There were sidewalks and then the buildings. It was just so crowded and spooky and depressing, these huge buildings towering up over you.
For some reason, which I don’t know, we never did see the St. Louis Cardinals. But we finally got through that huge city sometime that day.
Karla: Were you going to go to a ball game?
No, we weren’t going to the ball game. Evidently, we were just going to go by the stadium and see where they played.
The next thing I remember about that trip we were over in Illinois somewhere. It was getting late in the evening, toward dark. Their fields were different than ours. They didn’t have bar ditches and fences. The fields were plowed right up to the road, and the tractors had turned around right in the road. The crops came clear up to the edge of the road. It looked so different.
Here it was getting late in the afternoon. It just felt so depressing or lonesome or something. Keith, the 2-year-old, said, “I wish we was back at Uncle Percy’s!” We kinda all wished we were back at Uncle Percy’s that night.
I think that’s the night that we slept on the side of the road. Maybe that’s the night we didn’t sleep. We started to camp out on the side of the road and ended up not sleeping and driving on. I remember hunting a place but I don’t remember actually making our beds and going to bed. I don’t remember actually sleeping. I just remember we were looking for a place. I don’t remember going on. I don’t remember not staying.
One night… I don’t know if it was that same night or if it would have been the next night. We still hadn’t got to camp yet, I don’t think. We got some ice cream. We went to the grocery store and we got a carton of ice cream. It was strawberry ice cream. I guess Mother had paper cups and spoons. Some way she dished up that ice cream for us. We were eating our ice cream and it tasted like it had sand in it. It was just real gritty and grainy, nasty. We hardly could eat it. We ate some of it but I don’t know if we ate it all.
I don’t know how many days it took us to get to camp. That’s all I remember about the trip.
We got to the camp, found the campground. Daddy was going to set up the tent, if they would just let him set up the tent in a field nearby. But the people had these cabins that we could stay in. They didn’t charge anything. If we wanted to pay something we could. I think Daddy gave them $5.00 for the whole camp for the use of that cabin.
There were two rooms in the cabin. I don’t remember the beds, if we slept on the floor, or how we slept. There was a front room and then the back room was kind of a lean-to and that was where we had our kitchen. It seems like we carried water in but I don’t remember that we even did that. The bath house was in another building.
It seems like we went to the big tabernacle for the morning service, then in the afternoon we got to go to the children’s service in the little tabernacle. We had a little notebook that we made. We had our memory verses in it and we got stickers and stuff to put in our little book.
Two afternoons during camp we got to go into Wilmore to the college to go swimming. They took all the girls one day and then they took the boys another day. Each group got to go twice. We had our shorty pajamas made out of feed-sacks that we got to go swimming in. That’s what we wore for our bathing suits.
Karla: Was that what everybody else was wearing?
I have no idea what everybody else was wearing. Didn’t bother me what they wore. We didn’t have peer pressure back then like you all did when you were growing up. We were just so excited that we got to go swimming. I was just sure if we could have gone one more day I would have learned how to swim, because I just nearly learned the second time. I just knew if we could go one more time I would have been swimming the rest of my life. Think what I missed! *laughs*
We got to attend the youth service in the evening, too. It was before the night evangelistic service. It was in the same little tabernacle.
I can’t remember the names of the youth and children’s workers, but it was a lady and her younger brother that was in charge of the children and youth services. They had string puppets for their lessons. Their string puppets were Bible characters. That year they had a new puppet. This one was dressed according to the Bible directions. It was the color that it was supposed to be and it had the bells around the bottom of the robe. I can’t remember what Bible character it was, but it had ever how many little tiny bells around the bottom of the robe that it was supposed to have. He was dressed according to the directions that the Lord had given Moses or whoever and he was the new string puppet that summer. They did their Bible stories with these string puppets and they were really impressive to us because I’d never seen string puppets worked like that before. I don’t know if the puppets were in the children’s service or the youth. They might have used them in both services. Probably did.
One night after church the youth director–the young man, the brother–was taking a group of young people snipe hunting. We had never been snipe hunting so we got to go this night after church.
We ended up in the cemetery where we were going to hunt these snipes. Those that had never been snipe hunting were to to hold the bag. We had some bags we were supposed to hold and we had sticks we were supposed to hit them with when they come in.
The others went out to scare the snipes in. There were quite a bunch us. I would say it was eight or ten or twelve stayed to catch the snipes and the others went off. We could hear them yelling. They were out past the tombstones and we’d see them back in there. I guess it was kind of a dark night because we couldn’t see them too awful far. They’d holler and yell and we’d try to catch our snipes.
And we waited and we waited and we waited and we waited.
And we waited and we waited. I don’t know, an hour or more.
Finally somebody said, “Well, I think they have just gone back to camp without us.” So we started walking down the railroad track was supposed to be the closest way back to the camp. Here this young fella that had instigated the thing come looking for us because they had gotten worried. They thought we should have surely caught on and got back to camp far before then. We got back to camp and, of course, Mother and Daddy were worried, too, because it was 11:30 or later. Here we were, little kids out at that time of the night.
The Girl With Sugar Diabetes
There was a young girl there. She was some older than we were but her birthday was the same day as Donnie’s. She was a teenager. She had sugar diabetes. First time we’d ever known anybody that had sugar diabetes. One day we was walking across the campground with her and her sugar level dropped real bad, I guess, because she said, “Hurry, I’ve gotta go get a candy bar!” So we hurried to the snack stand where she bought a candy bar and ate real quick because she was low on sugar. She was staying in the girl’s dorm. I remember she’d come out of the dorm, we met her out there somewhere and was walking across the camp with her.
The Old Lady Who Gave Us a Chicken
One old grandma there decided that she would give us a hen to eat. We were eating in the cabin. We didn’t eat the dining hall. Mother was fixing our meals. This lady wanted us to go to her house and get one of her fat hens. I don’t know if we took the hen live back to the campground to butcher it or killed it at her house and took it back to pick it or not. But anyway we had that hen to eat while we were there.
She told us a story about her pappy being so sick one time. Oh, he was sick, he was so sick. The only thing that he could eat was bananas. But they didn’t have any bananas. And it was Sunday. So she went to the store and she bought Pappy some bananas on Sunday and took them to him. When he found out that she had bought the bananas on Sunday he didn’t eat them. He would not eat those bananas because she bought them on Sunday.
Shipping the Tent Home
After we didn’t use the tent Daddy decided to ship the tent back to PaPa by train and we didn’t have to haul it back. I guess he decided we couldn’t sleep in it on the side of the road anymore. The tent we took to sleep in was never opened, it was never put up, never unfolded. So we hauled it to Wilmore for nothing and then shipped it back by train.
After we left camp we went by Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and saw the log cabin where he was born and the spring down below the hill where they got water.
That might have been the trip that we spent a night with Daddy’s cousin in Arkansas. It seems to me like this trip back from Kentucky we went by these cousins’ to spend the night and it was after dark when we got there. The cousin came came out of the house barefooted. And we just were sure that nobody in Arkansas wore shoes. Or maybe Daddy had told us that people in Arkansas didn’t wear shoes. Then this cousin came out of the house barefoot in the dark to see who it was. We went in and we spent the night with them.
That’s what I remember about that trip. I don’t remember getting home. I guess we got home because I’m sure we lived there the rest of our days in Eldorado.