As soon as school let out for summer, we loaded up the car and drove back out to Vona. This was years before there were interstates. Only two lane roads that went through every city, town, or hamlet. It was a grueling trip, especially with two boys fussing in the back seat, yelling and hitting at each other. We were not great travelers.
|Bob, Grandmother Helen, John, Grandfather Harry|
But as soon as we arrived, we were back out hunting and exploring.
One summer we took a trip to Colorado Springs and drove up to the top of Pikes Peak in our 1928 Chevy. Quite a trip over a steep, dirt road. In those days the car radiators were not pressure sealed, so they tended to boil over very easily. Going up to the top there were water spigots all along the way, so you could refill your radiator as it boiled over. And the trip down, in low or second gear for breaking help, was quite long.
Had a bit of excitement on the way to Colorado Springs. My Aunt Ruth was driving (she never drove much and was a poor driver), and my mother was frightened by something Ruth did and pulled the emergency brake hard. The car went off the road and turned over on its side. Some men came along a few minutes later, stopped, helped us out, and set the car back up on its wheels. We thanked them and were off again, this time with mother driving. The cars in those days were made with such thick sheet metal that there were absolutely no dents in it from turning over. Amazing!
In the summer of 1940 we took a trip down through Raton Pass to Taos, New Mexico, then on through Santa Fe and Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon, where we met my uncle, Lyle Vincent, and his family. Spent a few days with them, saw the canyon, then headed back to Colorado.
During the summer, Bob and I would lay in the winter's supply of wood and do all sorts of stuff that needed to be done. Sometime during those years we acquired a moveable trailer (like that one that Frank Morgan used in "The Wizard of Oz"), and this became Bob's and my private quarters. Got us out of the house. I suppose it was about 8 by 12, on metal wheels, with steps that led up to the door.
One year, right before going back East, I helped Dewey Nelson harvest his wheat for a week. 100 degree temperature, but your shirt never got wet. At that low humidity the sweat evaporated immediately. But, you drank a lot of water. A lot. But I sunburned my lips. They got cracked and bleeding, couldn't hardly eat or talk. A mess! Don't ever sunburn your lips.
I went to Vona alone in the summer of 1942. The war was on, and gas was rationed so we couldn't drive. Took the bus out - two days and three nights - and was a horrendous trip. In those days the buses were much smaller than now, bumpier, smaller seats, less leg room, and no lavatories. So, there was a rest stop every couple of hours for fifteen minutes or so. I accomplished by summer chores at the house, but when it came time to return I took the train. Much better form of transportation.
That was the last time I saw the place. During the World War II, my grandmother and aunt moved to California, and the land was sold.
And so ended my "growing up years" in Colorado.
All in all, it was quite an experience. I learned a lot during my time out there - self reliance, ingenuity, improvisation, living with and in solitude with nature. I also learned that nature can be violent, nasty, destroying, and killing. No, you don't fool with Mother Nature.
After the War, my father studied theater at the University of Delaware where he met my mother, Margaret. They were married for over fifty years and had five children and eight grandchildren. John had a long and successful career directing theater and television shows, including DARK SHADOWS, THE EDGE OF NIGHT, and SANTA BARBARA. He kept his sense of humor all his life. Many of the jokes and puns in COYOTE WINDS came from my father. We all still miss him every day.