Autobiography of One Old Ford


John N. Lewis


Part One

1. North to Alaska
2. University of Alaska, Fairbanks
3. Mississippi State
4. Home for Christmas--by Canoe
5. Adventures In North Mississippi
6. Getting Involved
7. Back to Alaska--and Back
8. Thanksgiving Bride
9. Married Student Days

Part Two

10. California Honeymoon
11. Icelandic Interlude
12. Return to England
13. Continental Holiday
14. Farewell to England
15. California Here I Come--Again
16. Michigan Meander

Part Three

17. Home at Last
18. Journeys Missed by Being Second
19. Texas Tour

Part Four

20. Wyoming Via North Carolina
21. Return of the Vagabonds
22. From King Tut to Kansas City

15. California Here I come--Again

My long exile finally ended. I was a pretty sad sight when John first saw me after so long a time. Not only was I covered with dirt and grime, but my rear window had shattered into thousands of small pieces, as tempered glass does when it instantly self destructs, and the dirt daubers had made their mud houses beneath my dash. All the damage was superficial, however, and it didn't take long for my anxious owner to set things right. First, he dragged me from the lean-to to a sunny, grassy spot near a water faucet on his mother's south lawn and proceeded to remove four and a half years' accumulation of sparrow droppings. Then he got Pop (John's stepfather) to carry him out in the country to a junk yard where he removed a back glass from a wrecked Ford to fill the void in the rear of my passenger compartment. While they were at the junk yard John picked up a spare rear axle with bearing which he tucked away deep in my trunk as insurance against another breakdown such as occurred our last day in Alaska.

December 7 may be a day of infamy, but not for me in 1958. The day fell on Sunday just as it did in 1941, but for me it marked my coming out of retirement. Other than the new license plate, I was ready to roll again. My fuel system had dried out completely, so I was a little balky about starting the first time, but after running a few minutes to cough the cobwebs out of my system, I started as reliably as ever.

On Saturday night there was a welcome home reception at the home of John's mother. All the relatives and a few friends came to see the returned wanderers, or more likely, to see the newer members of the family. After all, John and Rita had left childless and returned with two little "blokes." At any rate, it was a happy occasion for them to have so many fine people come to rejoice with them for whatever reason. It seemed like Christmas already.

While he was overseas, John had convinced himself that my motor would need an overhaul when he returned. I really wasn't quite ready at just 73,000 miles, but having planned for so long to have the work done, he went ahead and had the valves reseated and new rings installed for $104. Then he took out the back seat and he and Rita made a trip to Batesville, Arkansas, to the home of Harry Fugett's parents to pick up a car load of the goods they had shipped from England. Betty and Harry had not made it home for Christmas from their new base. Later in December after these dear friends had made it home for the holidays, we returned to Batesville to visit and pick up the remaining household goods. On the second trip Don went along to see his friends, and he and his daddy cut a very full, but very stickery, little native cedar to take back to Louisiana for their Christmas tree.

December flew by. The last day of the year was John's twenty-ninth birthday. After the holidays the school-teacher mothers had to go back to school and John had to think about going back to work--somewhere. He had been in contact with Gilfillan and they had indicated that he would probably be returning to California. In anticipation of the trip, we returned to the old junk yard a few miles from Delhi to get the makings for a new trailer. The plywood trailer that I had pulled from Alaska twice was in no shape to make another journey without being completely rebuilt. Instead, John picked out a Studebaker pick up that had a good bed on it and bought it from the junk dealer. He loosened all the connections to the frame except the bed, passed a small cable from my trailer hitch over the truck cab to its floor board, and I rolled the cab free from the frame. After cutting the frame members, pulling them in to a point, welding in a small length of two-inch pipe and attaching a trailer hitch, the rear half of the truck made a dandy, two-wheel trailer. The shock absorbers were good, but John put on new 6-ply tires with new tubes. In the thirteen years he kept the trailer it never had a flat.

In late January I got a wash and grease job for $2.81 and a new carburetor from Western Auto for $5.00. Then on Monday morning, February 2, with the two kids in the back seat, the trailer in tow, and 76,586 miles on my odometer, I pulled onto U.S. 80 for another trip to California. That first day we only went as far as Fort Worth, where we stopped over again with Rita's Aunt "Eecie" and Uncle Ned Sandling. The weather in the southwest was seasonally cold, but the snow and sleet seemed always to stay just ahead of us. We met traffic bearing signs of having come through rough driving, but the sunshine followed us all the way. After a night's rest in Odessa, we passed through El Paso, taking the southern route to avoid the winter conditions farther north. In El Paso Don got a pair of cowboy boots so he could easily slip them on when he got out of the car and take them off when he got tired and wanted to nap on the back seat. Rita spent a good part of her time on her knees leaning over the seat back tending to Alison. The third night on the road, we stopped early at Lordsburg, New Mexico.

On the fifth we rolled through the grazing lands of eastern Arizona on U.S. 70, then joined U.S. 60 at Globe for its twisting climb through Miami and the Mescal Mountains. At mid-day we passed through downtown Phoenix with no pause other than the normal delay of city traffic. With California so close John did not want to stop again short of Fontana. He and Rita wanted to get to familiar territory. Consequently, we crossed the California desert at night, and sometime after midnight pulled into the same motel in Fontana where John had spent his last week before flying to Iceland in 1954.

John's work was not in Fontana this time; but a few friends were, as well as the church of which they were still members. Upon learning that the Lewises were back in town, the pastor and his wife cordially invited them to spend the weekend with them. Because of the baby's special needs, this offer was gratefully accepted. At Sunday's service a number of friends they had made during their brief summer in Fontana came around to welcome their almost-forgotten members back to California.

Monday morning John reported in to Gilfillan's main office on Venice Boulevard and learned that this would be his place of employment. He was assigned to the publications department as a technical writer. As he was introduced to the people in this new department by a colleague from the field engineering department, one of the first persons he met was Wilson. Wilson had been an airman in Iceland who was due for discharge soon after John arrived there. John had recommended him to the company, and now was assigned to his writing group for duty. There was no difficulty adjusting to the new assignment, but there was considerable difficulty finding a suitable home for the family.

Southern California had geared up for couples and swinging singles, but it seemed that children were a plague to be avoided by landlords. John moved into a motel in the heart of Inglewood between L.A. International Airport and Hollywood Park race track. It was an easy trip over to Western Boulevard and up to the plant each day. Every spare off-duty hour was spent house hunting. Houses were not especially scarce, but a landlord that would allow children was. Finally, after several weeks of searching, a suitable house was located in El Monte, twenty-two miles from work. John had located some used furniture and appliances in a store in Inglewood. The newly acquired household goods were too much to carry in one trip in the Studebaker trailer. As John was relocating to the house in El Monte, the super-efficient county tax assessor was actually in the house listing the Lewis personal property before John returned from Inglewood with the second load. This seemed to be indicative of the extent to which officialdom was organized against the individual in the country's largest megapolis.

There were many enjoyable advantages to living in the Los Angeles area if one could accept the fact that he had to compete with millions of other immigrants for the privilege. Food was abundant, of great variety, and cheap. A dairy was located only a few blocks down the street from the house in El Monte, and milk was delivered regularly. There was an endless variety of entertainments and other attractions within easy driving distance. A friendly church was located in the neighborhood with excellent nursery facilities. One of the greatest joys for John and Rita was being able to visit Jerry and Helen Moore. They did not know of John's transfer, so one night he was able to drive down to Seal Beach and surprise them. Parking a little way from the house, he had Don go up on the porch and knock. When Jerry answered the door, he looked about and saw no one until a small voice about knee level said "Hello, Uncle Jerry".

The Drive from El Monte in to the plant via the San Bernardino and Hollywood Freeways was twenty-two miles each way. Many mornings when we hit the freeway at 6:30 it resembled a four-lane parking lot stretching as far as the eye could see. The mass traffic jam alternated between flying at seventy miles per hour and a solid standstill, with occasional periods of creeping. The strain of the drive home each evening was more wearing than the day's work. The only time Rita could leave the house was on weekends or after John returned in the late afternoon, for I spent all the week days in the Gilfillan parking lot.

The Saturday excursions were the highlights of the week. Some Saturdays we just rode and looked, but on others John and Rita shopped through the many used furniture stores for bargains. These trips resulted in Rita getting a fine Singer portable electric sewing machine for ten dollars. The family also joined the rest of the nation in the stultifying pastime of television watching. John found a big mahogany console TV-radio-phono combination for seventy-five dollars. The dealer who delivered the television set knew very little about them, but he had been a sewing machine salesman for years. When he came in the house, John was trying to unsnarl the bobbin on the little Singer. When the dealer saw the machine he said he had sold many like it and if John would hook up the television he would fix the sewing machine. He cleaned and adjusted it so it ran like new. Rita now had something else to do during the long summer days other than just caring for the baby girl. Don was quite able to entertain himself.

There was a fine lemon tree in the front yard that produced abundantly. Each morning Don would go out and gather the large lemons that had fallen, and Rita kept a pitcher of fresh lemonade in the refrigerator most of the time. Also in the yard was a grafted plum tree that yielded the most enormous plums that John ever saw. Some of them would not go through the mouth of a fruit jar. They were so heavy that he carefully picked them before they fell. Rita often put a whole saucer of sliced fruit on the table from a single plum: they were that large and just as delicious.

During the summer, John drew a special writing assignment up the coast at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This west coast missile launching facility was testing the Atlas missile at the time. Although pleased to get out of Los Angeles for a couple of weeks, John did not care to leave Rita and the kids alone. He rode up with other members of the writing team, however, and left me for Rita to use during his absence. We met him Friday evening in Rosemead and carried him back to catch his ride Monday morning--at 3:30 a.m.

During the time that John had been a writer, another ex-tech rep had occupied the adjoining desk. During the lunch periods, the two played chess almost daily. When John returned from the temporary duty at Vandenberg, there was a note and the chess set in his desk. The good-bye note told John that his friend had left for good and had willed him the chess set. On top of this disappointment came another. John had worked for weeks writing a manual that he and his supervisor hoped to sell to the Air Force. The GCA alignment procedure was a small portion of a very large technical manual, and was scattered throughout the 4-inch-thick tome. John wrote a small alignment manual which could be issued to the individual repairmen, would fit in their pocket, and could be held in one hand while the alignment was done with the other. This was not just the old alignment procedures lifted from the larger manual, but a more precise and clearer set of instructions drawn from eight years of field experience. Both men knew that there was a real need for the book and that it would be very welcome by the field personnel. The big trouble was that the Air Material Command at Rome Depot did not agree. Rejects are expected sometime, but never welcome.

One very satisfying job that John was privileged to do was preparing a major field modification kit. He had installed a number of modifications in the field and knew how ambiguous seemingly clear instruction could be to one unfamiliar with their intent. He took great pains to see that the modification kit contained ample photographic illustrations and fool-proof, step-by-step installation procedures. Nevertheless, the unrewarding days seemed to far outweigh the rewarding ones; and during the dull moments of the day, or whenever he went outside and the smog burned his eyes, John's thoughts turned to the peaceful, shaded banks of the Tensas River.

There was a high turnover of personnel among the tech writers. They had to be well versed in the electronic field. Consequently, most of them had led quite active and mobile lives. Settling down at a desk in the heart of Los Angeles was just not their idea of permanent employment. John saw that the more skill one acquired as a writer, the more firmly he became locked into the publications department. He decided that the rewards did not equal the frustrations. Picking a Friday well in advance of his final day on the job, he wrote a formal letter of resignation and placed it on the desk of the section head. So many had used the threat of resignation as a ploy to secure more salary that perhaps Mr. Bull thought John's letter was for that purpose also. At any rate, John was soon summoned to report to the head of the department. This gentleman got straight to the point. He said, "Lewis, I have here on my desk two letters. One is your resignation, and the other is a letter from Mr. Bull recommending you for a raise. Now which one shall I honor?"

John answered unhesitatingly, "Which one has my signature on it?"

At this the department head became a bit more personal and asked to know why he was losing a promising writer and ventured that if money was a major part of the problem, he could do something about that. John tried to explain that, as much as he liked Gilfillan, and as well as he had been treated by the company, they just didn't have enough money to keep him in Los Angeles beyond the tenth of July, 1959. The department head accepted this without really understanding the country-boy logic and in parting told John that since his mind seemed to be made up he would not try to talk him into staying, but should he ever wish to return to Gilfillan he would certainly be welcome. This note made a very difficult decision more palatable and was sort of like a blank check that John carried away with him. On more than one occasion he has been sorely tempted to cash it.

When his companions at work learned that John was actually leaving the company to go back home rather than to another job within the industry, they could not believe it. It didn't make much sense. The space age had just begun, and electronics was the hottest field going. The Los Angeles papers had whole pages of ads for electronic technicians, engineers, writers, and test personnel. However, one of the group leaders, who had gotten to know John, understood the urge that pulled him from L.A. back to La. Harold Byerly was a farm boy from Indiana. He had gone into the electronics field with the hopes of earning enough money to return someday and buy a farm of his own. Of course, as time passed his standard of living kept rising with his income, and the price of farmland kept rising with inflation until Harold realized that he was no closer to his farm in Indiana than when he started. But his dream was not dead. Seeing someone else make the break that he could not disturbed Harold. One morning he came to work with a poem for John which he had copied over the weekend. It hit pretty close to the situation; but to quell any skepticism about his leaving, John appended a couplet of his own.

The Would Be Farmer

To the country I'm speeding to do my first seeding
I just bought some acres of land.
I hope to get wealthy and grow to be healthy
At farming I'm trying my hand.

Farm Journals I'm scanning and doing great planning
To learn to raise this, those and that.
I'll learn cultivation and pollenization
I'll get all the angles down pat.

I'm implements buying--new gadgets I'm trying
I'll show the old timers a trick.
I'll sow my seeds thicker and raise my crops quicker
And make my near neighbors look sick.

Some spray dope I'm getting, and brother I'm betting
I'll waylay the bugs and the mice.
I'll spray my tomaters--also my potaters
And kill all the germs that ain't nice.

Some buckwheat I'm growing and garlic I'm sowing
I'll put out a plotting of maise.
I'll earn some pin money by raising bee honey
And crops that the others don't raise.

Stock raising I'm trying--the best breeds I'm buying
I'll give them attention and care.
With my stock, and canning my wife does
We're planning the prizes to win at the fair.

From feathers of geeses and wool of sheep fleeces
I'll have me the downiest beds.
I'll fill my wee belly with jams and with jelly
And all kinds of juices and spreads.

Now I may be flirting with something uncertain
And farming may go to the dogs,
But if I don't make it, from me you can take it
I'll flood the lowlands and raise frogs.

H.H. Hunter

If you think I'm kidding, and the trail I'm not hitting,
That I've been here too long now to roam.
It's Eastward I'm journeying; for my home ground I'm yearning
Don't you stand between me and my home.

J.N. Lewis

One day during lunch an acquaintance from the Field Engineering Department dropped by John's desk and asked if the rumor that he was leaving was true. When John affirmed that it was, the visitor asked why he had not come over and talked to someone in his old department. Well, the answer to that was simply that he didn't think anyone would really care. However, after an invitation he did go next door to see what prospects there might be. Lee Stanton asked John, if he was going back to Louisiana anyway, wouldn't he just as soon have the company pay his way to go on over to Alabama and pull some extensive field maintenance on the GCA unit at Fort Rucker? Now that was an offer that could hardly be refused. I was going to make the trip anyway, and seven cents a mile beat nothing by a long shot. Gilfillan was a company that was hard to quit.

There was a lot of preparation for the return trip to Louisiana. John had found a new, wide-side GMC pickup bed at a local dealership where it had been removed from a truck so that a custom body could be installed. John bought the bed, and he and Don built a new trailer--not to replace the Studebaker, but to supplement it. He planned to take a houseful of goods back with us. Two days before time to leave, I embarrassed myself on the Hollywood Freeway. Steam started issuing from my radiator. Ducking off the first exit ramp before stopping, John saw at a glance that one of the fan belts was broken. Fortunately a Ford agency was only three blocks away. Getting there just before it closed, he was able to get a replacement belt, and for good measure he got a second in case the other one on the motor ever broke. So far it never has.

At last Friday, the tenth of July, came. It was not a typical day even for California. John worked a full day at the office, came home as rapidly as the jammed freeway would allow, and began packing two trailers. It rained. The last time rain had fallen in El Monte was on the day back in February that the Lewises moved in. It was past nine o'clock at night before both trailers were loaded and hooked in tandem. As I dragged them out towards Foothill Boulevard, my odometer showed 85,481 miles. John and Rita were dead tired.

We hadn't gone far before John and I knew we were in for a rough time. For one thing, the rain had not cooled the night air enough to compensate for the misery caused by the increased humidity. Worse than that, however, the rear trailer was so overloaded that it became unstable at speeds over thirty-five miles an hour. John was too tired to do anything but creep along at whatever rate the trailers and road condition would allow. It was too hot to stop and try to rearrange the loads. He had placed a piece of plywood in the back seat that also covered the boxes packed between the seats. This area covered with quilts made a large bed for the two children, but the snail's pace gave them little relief from the heat.

Progress was agonizingly slow, and the night seemed to grow darker and hotter. The wind whipping across the desert caused the trailers to sway dangerously, and eventually the sand became so unpleasant that the windows had to be shut. Soon we were creeping past parked vehicles. It was only when we came to a big truck stopped in the westbound lane that John realized that we were caught in a real sandstorm. Visibility was too bad for us to continue. We sat there in a blinding sandstorm and unmerciful heat, unable to open a window. Although it seemed a long time, the freak wind soon passed on. We eased into a service station in Indio at exactly midnight. The thermometer read one hundred and five degrees.

The plan was to cross the desert during the night and be in Arizona when the sun came up. The car springs that John had used under the GMC truck bed were too long and limber for the load they carried, and the sway of the trailer caused a tire to rub the inside of the wheel well. On a long upgrade about twenty miles east of Indio, the tire blew out. There was barely enough shoulder on which to pull clear of the roadway. There was no choice but to unhook the trailers so Rita could drive back to Indio for a tire while John stayed to guard the household goods. For awhile he stayed awake and used his flashlight to warn the occasional motorist of the parked trailers, but fatigue eventually caused him to fall asleep on the rocks beside the road. When daylight came, a commotion less than a hundred yards up the mountain caught his attention. A large truck had wrecked coming down the mountain and had scattered its load all over the shoulder on John's side of the highway. The crash didn't even wake him up. If it have happened a couple of hundred feet down the grade he never would have awakened.

When the highway patrolmen came to investigate the wreck, they stopped by the pair of trailers to see what was their trouble. John explained the situation to them but was not at all heartened by their response. With uncharacteristic gruffness, they demanded that the trailers be gone in one hour or they would have them towed away. Rita was still in Indio waiting for a tire store to open. When she finally returned, John lost no time mounting the tire, but he was still hitching up when the patrolmen returned. Seeing that progress was being made towards a departure, they slowed but drove on by. By this time the sun had really warmed the desert highway, The surface was like freshly poured tar. Pulling such a load so slowly, my motor could not cool properly, although the water did not actually boil away. It missed a mighty good chance, however, for when we finally came to a spot to stop at midmorning the thermometer registered one hundred eighteen degrees. There was a cafe on one side of the road and a small repair shop and a couple of motel units on the other. A big fan stirred the hot air within the cafe where a thermometer claimed it to be thirteen degrees cooler than outside.

Rita and the kids needed some rest and relief from the dehydrating heat. John decided to rent a motel unit for the day and start out again in the cool of the evening. While the family rested he made an effort to make the new trailer a little more travelworthy. There were a few used cross ties by the shop. Borrowing a saw from the operator, John sawed two blocks from a solid tie and forced them between the axle housing and the frame of the trailer, thus eliminating the effect of the leaf springs altogether. He thought that might make the trailer pull better, and quite surely nothing could make it pull any worse.

After noon when John got a chance to clean up, the water from the cold water faucet was almost too hot for shaving. Thinking that there was some mix up in the water valves, he went to see the proprietor to find out how to get the cold water on. The hot water was the cold water. The owner of the meager haven pointed out a series of tanks spaced about a mile apart in a line descending from the distant mountains. He explained that water was piped from a spring several miles away. The supply was so scarce that it was collected in the tanks which served as reservoirs for the gravity-flow system. The water flowing slowly through the small pipe lying exposed on the surface of the desert was delivered well heated by the sun. But hot though it was, without this precious trickle there would be no rest stop at all in that lonely stretch of desert.

After sundown I eased back onto the highway with the two trailers snaking behind. The rear trailer behaved some better after the hasty modification, but the pace was still agonizingly slow. By the time we rolled into Blythe, John had decided to relieve me of one trailer. It seemed a simple matter to put the rear trailer on a freight train at Blythe and then start rolling. Finding the freight depot was no trouble, but it was necessary to go to his home to find the agent. He had bad news. There was no practical way to ship the loaded trailer from Blythe. It would have to be towed to Phoenix. John knew there were some grades in western Arizona that we didn't need to tackle with both trailers. The freight agent offered to let him leave one trailer in his yard. By the time he had cut the rear trailer loose, it was midnight again. The air had cooled to ninety-nine degrees. In the past twenty-four hours we had scarcely made a good one hundred miles, but with only the Studebaker trailer to pull we made good time to Phoenix. John found a motel for Rita and the kids, took a short nap himself, then dropped the trailer and laid in a few groceries for the others before leaving them to go back to Blythe for the other trailer. The freight agent and his family were eating supper and watching Ed Sullivan when he arrived. They kindly invited him to dine with them, and he gladly accepted. However, as soon as Ed's show was over we hitched to the GMC trailer and set out over the Blythe-Phoenix stretch of U.S. 60 for the third time that Sunday.

The overloaded trailer did not handle too badly pulled singly, but it was near daybreak when we pulled into the motel in Phoenix again. Since the freight office wouldn't open until later that Monday morning, John got a much-needed rest before delivering the trailer to the railroad station. As soon as we could get back to the motel and pick up the Studebaker, we headed out into the blazing desert again. Rita was almost constantly pouring water for somebody. On one fairly level stretch of road she drove while her tired husband tried to nap on the passenger side of the front seat. He awoke to see fence posts flashing by like a picket fence. A glance at the speedometer showed that we were cruising at eighty-five miles per hour. The trailer was doing fine, but there was a lot less plastic protecting the couch than there had been. Rita was ready to get her children home again.

Monday afternoon we encountered another sand storm. Although not quite as bad as Friday night's blow, it made travel miserable. Somewhere about the last spot that could pass for a town in Arizona, John pulled behind an abandoned store to seek shelter from the wind; but there was no relief from the heat. Resenting the waste of time, he drove back into the gusty blast of dust and sand. By the time we drifted into Lordsburg, New Mexico, we had left most of the storm behind, and although it was too early for supper, it was quite late for lunch, so the only cafe stop of the day was made for whatever meal it may have been.

Darkness had fallen before we crossed the Rio Grande at Los Cruces, and another midnight passed as we slipped through the heart of downtown El Paso. As much as he desired to travel all night, there is a limit to human endurance. There had not been much sleep for John and Rita Thursday night before leaving California and very little since. South of El Paso, on a lonely stretch of U.S. 80, we came to a level place to pull off the road and park. There is where John joined the children in the rear seat, Rita stretched out on the front, and between passings of the large trucks, they slept fitfully until daylight.

Tuesday morning we stopped for gasoline and breakfast at Van Horn, just inside the central time zone. All day long we rolled steadily across hot, never-ending Texas. I had to stop for three tanks of fuel, but there were twice as many additional stops for Rita to fill the two quart Thermos bottles from which she poured cold water almost constantly. The heat, though not so bad as in the Mojave, was still over one hundred degrees and so dry that the passengers were perpetually thirsty. As they stopped in Abilene for a midafternoon snack, John and Rita thought of their English milkman who had immigrated to that west Texas city the previous year from verdant Huntingdonshire, where it is a rare summer day that reaches ninety degrees.

There was a great temptation to stop in fort Worth as we passed within a few blocks of the home of Rita's aunt and uncle, but who needs a weary, dirty bunch of vagabonds waking them in the middle of the night? About midnight we crossed that magic invisible, yet almost tangible, line that separates West from East, Fort Worth from Dallas, and arid from humid. The high humidity that is so refreshing to an internal combustion engine that it increases speed and efficiency, falls like a depressing blanket on people used to the dry desert air. Every mile east from Dallas, the humidity rose noticeably. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, at some roadside park, utter fatigue shut us down again--still in Texas.

Four people trying to sleep in a car is a little cramped for comfort, so John took a quilt and stretched out on the grass. When the early morning traffic aroused him from the first sound nap in days, he felt as if he had been mopped with molasses. The slight cooling of the saturated air had produced a dew which had soaked everything. Feeling like a damp tramp, John eased me out on old U.S. 80 again to try to reach the Sabine River before the summer sun got so hot. We were heading straight into the rising sun this morning, but there were trees for it to come up over instead of burning desert.

Rolling down Texas Avenue in Shreveport was almost like home, but small as it is, there was still the entire state of Louisiana to cross. There was no Interstate 20 then, and highway 80 split the middle of every town in north Louisiana. We went on to Minden before making a breakfast stop. My second tank of gas on the fifteenth carried me all the way to Tendal. John and Rita felt a tremendous sense of relief as we squeaked across the old wooden bridge over Henley Bayou and into the yard at home; but to tell the truth, I was about as glad as they, for this time I had dragged that overloaded trailer 2470 miles, and through some one hundred twenty degree desert had a larger one hanging on behind. When you are bone tired and beat to a frazzle, there really is no place like home.