Virginia Woolf wrote a wonderful book A Room of One’s Own about the space a woman needed to be a thoughtful writer. I amended this to suit my automobile theme which continues today.
Above is pictured a 1965 Ford Fairlane 500, 289 with a dual carburetor, blue and white, with four doors. It is, regrettably, not the original car of my own. But it is a remarkable likeness to mine, save the fancy wheels which I didn’t have.
In the autumn of 1968, when I was about to return to Cambridge, Massachusetts for my senior year in college, my parents surprised me with the gift of my father’s car. He was going to buy a new car and thought I might enjoy having one for my last year of school. The only major problem was that the car and I were in Oregon, 3084 miles away. But I, the intrepid(or loony) 21 year old said yes to the cross country solo trek.
Armed with a map of the United States and a Shell Oil credit card, I set off on the interstate. In those days, I could use the Shell card at motels as well as gas stations. I also had traveler’s checks for meals. I drove each day until I was exhausted and then checked into a handy motel. One morning I woke up to see a large water tower with WSP on it. I had, unknowingly, slept next door to the Wyoming State Penitentiary!
Wyoming had no speed limit and I had the thrill of blasting the AM radio and careening down the road at 110 mph. The previous day, as I drove the hill down into Ogden, Utah, I had heard the Beatles song Hey Jude for the first time. It astonished me and is forever linked to my long trek.
By the time I got to New Jersey, on the way to stay with friends who lived in Washington Heights in New York City, I was exhausted. I could not figure out how to get to the George Washington Bridge. I could see it, but pulled over and wept at my inability to get on it. I pulled myself together, tried one last time, and successfully crossed the Hudson to the safe arms of my worried friends. There were of course no cell phones then, and they couldn’t figure out what was keeping me.
Well, I wasn’t Charles Lindbergh on his solo flight across the Atlantic, but it challenged me deeply. I made it across the country by myself. That was a true accomplishment.