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Summer Views from Route 66 (Part III)

August 24, 2016


Summer Views from Route 66 and Other Travels in the 1950s and 1960s  (Part III)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Having grown up with the original Mickey Mouse Club and having watched The Wonderful World of Disney on many Sunday evenings, I was quite pleased that my California relatives lived very near Disneyland.  On our family trip of the West in 1964, visiting Disneyland was the highlight of our vacation.  As I mentioned in my previous Wordwalk blog post (Part II of this three-part series), I was never interested in carnival-type rides; however, at Disneyland, I joined my younger cousins Nancy and Kenny, as well as my sister, parents, aunt and uncle on a whirlwind of magical rides.  Yes, I–now a connoisseur of tea–spun around in the Teacups.  Although I am not too comfortable with being in high places, I enjoyed riding over part of Disneyland in the Sky Ride and on the Monorail.  For many years, I had been a fan of the Saturday afternoon Tarzan movies; so I relished the realistic qualities of the Jungle Ride.  Somehow, everyone convinced me to take a submarine ride also; nevertheless, I was glad to exit the Nautilus.  Despite my being fourteen when I went to the Magic Kingdom, I was impressed with how impeccably clean all areas of the huge park were.  For our visit to Disneyland, the weather was a typically beautiful, sunshiny California day.


Later, Uncle Jules insisted that my parents, my sister, and I return to Disneyland to take in a little more of its many features and to have dinner at the Disneyland Hotel.  This dining experience was our first al fresco.  After the four of us had a delicious dinner with a splendid view, the smartly-dressed waiter asked for our dessert choices.  Well, between our first day at Disneyland and this day, I had discovered the delectable fruit–boysenberries.  Unfortunately, I did not quite recall the pronunciation correctly.  Thus, when the formal waiter asked me what I wanted for dessert, without hesitation, I responded that I wanted “booze-and-berry pie.”  Of course, My family quickly translated my request.


At Knott’s Berry Farm, all eight of us enjoyed another lovely dinner–including boysenberry cobbler.  On a roll with amusement rides, I enjoyed more rides with the rest of the family at Knott’s Berry Farm.


Another memorable part of our California vacation was a bus tour of homes of famous stars.  With Lucille Ball and her television series I Love Lucy among our favorites, we were fascinated to drive by the home of “Lucy Ricardo” even though little could be seen due to a brick wall, shrubbery, trees, and an iron gate.  Jimmy Stewart’s home, the Brown Derby, and other famous spots were part of the bus tour.  Still on the “star” theme, we marveled at the extraordinarily lifelike statues and Rolls Royces at Movieland’s Wax Museum.


After having splashed in the Atlantic Ocean along Daytona Beach in 1961, we, of course, had to spend a day on the beach of the Pacific Ocean.  Additionally, we happily walked around my uncle’s neighborhood of Orange.  Very near our relatives’ beautiful California-style home was an orchard of orange trees.  Sadly, this orange grove had already been sold to a developer who would soon uproot all the trees to build more California-style homes.  Although my California cousins and I did not often see each other, we shared  and still share a special family bond.


After we said goodbye to our relatives in Orange, we headed north to Berkley, the longtime home of my mother’s godfather, Carlo Bruno.  Despite all the miles between Berkley and Blanford, Carlo Bruno was exceptional about keeping in touch with us (long before the thought of e-mail).  Each Christmas, he remembered my sister and me with a card and small gift.  This older, single man, who never married, was delighted that we had stopped to visit him.  We would have spent more than two days with him; however, my dad was wary of the safety of staying in Berkley at that time.  That visit was the one and only time that my sister and I saw Carlo Bruno:  he was such a good-hearted man.


Instead of Route 66, we took the northern route home for cooler weather and for adding more states to our list.  A breath-taking segment of our journey home was driving through Donner Pass and being awestruck at the view below of Lake Tahoe.  While my dad was driving, he kept marveling at the striking view; we kept telling him to keep his eyes on the road.


We had read about Little America, Wyoming, and wanted to stop at this remote site.  At the souvenir shop of Little America, I purchased my best keepsake of this trip–a ceramic beagle puppy which still rests atop one of my bookshelves.  This darling pup is now fifty-two years old and, thankfully, is still in perfect shape.


Leaving Wyoming, we visited Colorado for the first time.  At that time, we never guessed that my sister would move permanently to Colorado with her husband eleven years later and raise their two sons on the Front Range of the Rockies.  Thus, this trip was the first of many vacations that my parents and I made to the Centennial State.  Our initial stop in this state was Colorado Springs, where we toured the Garden of the Gods and visited with friends (Mary and Kenny Benjamin and their two daughters) who were former Hoosiers.  Our friends took us to a special ice cream shop called Michelle’s and urged my sister and me to order one item on the menu–a Pike’s Peak Special, which the menu described as “Elevation:  14 inches.”  After waiting several minutes, we were surprised by the sounds of bells, noise-makers,  and much hullabaloo by all of he employees.  All of the fanfare was the ice cream shop’s manner of serving the specialty of the house–a huge ice cream soda (made for two or more people).  Realizing that the hullabaloo was for my sister and me, we were a little embarrassed; nevertheless, this emotion quickly passed as we sipped the soda and dug into our tall treat.  The fourteen-inch high soda glass must have been about eight inches in diameter.  Besides the usual ingredients, a huge piece of yellow cake was between the layers of ice cream.  My sister and I, together with a little help from our parents, managed to eat only about two-thirds of the Pike’s Peak Special.


Another day of our first visit to the Rockies was focused on trout fishing.  My dad was so busy with helping my sister and me with all the trout we caught that he barely had time to fish–until after my sister and I had caught our limit.  In addition to being lucky fisherwomen at this pretty spot in the Manitou Springs area, we were fortunate to be able to watch industrious beavers at their work.  after too much of “city life,” we soaked up the majesty of the wilderness.  Despite this wonderful experience in Mother Nature, my mother became especially ready to head home a little earlier than planned.  On that long stretch of US-40 (prior to the laying of I-70), my dad, my sister, and I became more eager to return to our Hoosier home.  We decided that Kansas seemed like the longest state ever to cross.  My most pleasant memory of this Kansas crossing was seeing for the first time darling pygmy goats at a rest stop.  The couple who had just purchased the tiny goats were proud to show off their two new pets.  Alas!  We arrived home to our own pet Prince, the Toy Manchester/Chihuahua.  Although we loved our longest vacation ever, we embraced being back “home, sweet home.”


Somehow, by the next summer, we were ready to wander again.  From a young age, I developed an appreciation for historical buildings, history, and politics.  Thus, what could top our California trip?  A family trip to our nation’s capital!  In 1965, before my sophomore year of high school, my parents, my sister, and I headed east.  On this vacation and subsequent trips east, we liked to spend the night at Washington, Pennsylvania, where the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge was located upon a hill.  Besides all the varieties of ice cream, the swimming pool was another draw to this overnight spot.  Each weekend we stayed at Washington, Pennsylvania, we attended mass at the nearby church.


Thanks to my mother’s pre-planning of our D. C. trip and to Congressman Richard Roudebush’s office staff, we were able to tour The White House and other places with special entry tickets.  In 1965, more areas of the White House were open to the public tours.  Most especially, I felt privileged to visit the Red, Green, and Blue Rooms; the silk wall “paper” surprised and fascinated me.  Besides the East Room, I recall seeing a display of White House china in another room.  I think my favorite book from all of my travels is the book which I purchased at The White House and whose topic is this famous residence.


Despite the heat and humidity of Washington, D.C., in August, we walked many miles during our week’s stay.  We toured the Capitol Building and saw Senator Ted Kennedy descending a flight of stairs.  At the Smithsonian Institute, I was intrigued by the Air and Space Museum, as well as the display of Inaugural gowns worn by the First Ladies.  In addition to all the impressive monuments, we visited Arlington National Cemetery (where we saw the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the gravesite of President Kennedy), National Archives Building, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Mount Saint Sepulchre Monastery.  Undoubtedly, this vacation was, in many ways, our most educational.


Shortly after my graduation from Clinton High School, my sister, my parents, and I went to Indiana Beach again.  For the first time, we stayed at the new addition of the hotel. Unlike the cabins, the new hotel room had a television.  During this stay at Lake Shafer, the news reported that Helen Keller, at nearly age 88, passed away on June 1, 1968.  Then, even more sadly, in the midst of this vacation, the young Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.  On that sunny June 5, 1968, our vacation stopped:  we watched the continuous news reports on the television in our hotel room.  While I looked toward beginning a summer term before my first fall semester at Indiana State University, so much was happening in the United States, so much was changing.


Changes even happened in our extended family.  My Aunt Kathy and her family moved away from Indiana to New Jersey.  Thus, beginning in July of 1969, we traveled to New Jersey for the first of several vacations to visit our relatives and to do some sightseeing in Philadelphia, New York City, and the beaches of New Jersey.  On one of our first excursions away from our relatives’ house in Cinnaminson, we wondered aloud how we would find our way back to the house.  My then four-year-old cousin Gina who accompanied us replied, “Just unturn the turns.”  Whenever we try to return home, aren’t we always unturning the turns?  Our complicated lives are really more simple than we sometimes wish to think.  Traveling to new places not only broadens our horizons, but also helps us to have a better perspective on how green the grass really is around our own hometown.  Amazingly, the first vacation which I clearly remember was in Wisconsin to where I moved for a job in 1991 and where I still live.  Additionally, one of the states which we visited on our trip west–Colorado–has been the residence of my sister and her family since 1975.  I never imagined that both my sister and I would have landed so far away from our beloved Hoosier home.  I believe that our many travels allowed us to be more accepting of the idea of making a home away from our roots in Indiana.


Although I have not written all of my memories of my family’s vacations in the 1950s and 1960s, I realize that I do not now remember as much as I would like to recall of the details of these travels.  On the other hand, I am quite pleased that I have finally written some of these travel memories and hope that I have herein encouraged you to do likewise.


While this blog post concludes this three-part travel series, perhaps, next summer I will write about some other vacations of more recent decades.  Please check my Wordwalk blog next Wednesday to read a much shorter  blog post on a new and different topic.


Enjoy the final weeks of this summer!

Alice and Willow


POST-SCRIPT:   Happy First Birthday to my smiling grand-nephew Caden James!  Also, thanks to Caden’s Mammar for her assistance with my bringing together all the details for this travel memoir!


August 24, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Hi Alice,

    I have enjoyed your vacation memories. We went to California when I was eight. We drove and also went to Disney land. I remember some of those rides.


  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Finally got caught up and read Parts 2 and 3 of your summer childhood travels. What I like best about traveling is reading a memoir such as these blogs and having memories of that place if we’ve been there, and if we haven’t yet, making a mental note to put it on the list. Of course, it is very special for us Midwesterners to have dipped our toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I also think you are very lucky to have a family that always dining an important part of the experience.–Sue

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Oops! that last sentence should read ” . . . a family that always made dining . . .” Sorry!

  4. I appreciate the credit, Alice, but you are the one with the phenomenal recall of details of the interesting places, people, and experiences! My contribution has been quite minimal. Thank you so much for your time and expertise in recording these treasured memories of special family times!
    Love, Mary

  5. Alice. Your third and final part of this series has completely touched my heart on many different levels. Disneyland, your ceramic beagle, boysenberry pie, and it all revolves around some of the best story telling I have ever heard. When you mentioned your ceramic beagle collectable that you bought coming home from California, I remembered back to our own Bubby, my beagle boy who graced our lives here in Clinton Maine until spring 2010. Thanks for pulling me back into my past again, and again. Your gift, your craft, your tales of adventure are a treasure my dear, and I thank you for them.

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